But Every Penny is Justified
Kia introduced Telluride in 2020 as a brand-new nameplate. And The Savvy Drivers were some of the first to test drive it. We were among the voting members of the Texas Auto Writers Association who named it 2020 SUV of Texas. Telluride went on to earn 2020 World Car of the Year and MotorTrend’s 2020 SUV of the Year.
Reviewers have consistently touted Telluride’s stylish, modern design, refined interior, smooth ride quality. It also stands out for an abundance of included features and technologies to enhance convenience, comfort, and safety.
At one point Kia dealers were even adding a premium over MSRP for new Tellurides because of the popularity of the three-row mid-size SUV. And now, the Telluride has been out long enough to prove great resale value. But one of the reasons used Tellurides are popular is because the new ones will cost you more.
Telluride Got its First Major Refresh for the 2023 Model Year
The 2023 Telluride sports a redesigned front grille and bumper and updated LED headlights and taillights Other tweaks include new wheel designs and additional exterior colors.
Every Telluride still sports a 3.8-liter V6 that producing 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. And Kia continues its 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
While some criticize Kia for leaving affordable-minded buyers behind, pricing for the base LX trim 2023 Telluride still starts at $37,025. The new Kia Telluride expands upon an already extensive list of included standard features. This includes updates to the SUV’s forward collision avoidance and traffic sign recognition safety systems. Even the base Telluride now comes with a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite radio, and a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Our weekend trip from Dallas to San Antonio in the Telluride provided the perfect opportunity to test Kia’s semi-autonomous highway driving assist system– another feature that’s standard on all Telluride trims. The Highway Driving Assist system pairs adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability and lane centering assistance. It worked impressively in Interstate 35’s bumper-to-bumper traffic that we experienced several times along our way. Had we needed to venture off-road, we could have tested the now-standard hill-descent control, too.
And the list of Telluride’s standard safety features goes on. If you try to make an unsafe left turn across traffic, the Junction Turning detection system automatically brakes to prevent the action. There’s also a rear seat reminder system with ultrasonic sensors that can detect movement in the SUV for up to 24 hours after you’ve locked and left the vehicle.
Kia Justifies the Price Hike as a Response to Increased Demand from Affluent Level Buyers
With Kia’s sales numbers showing a 60 percent rise in the average transaction price across its line-up since the brand began importing to America in 2018, Kia execs say its top trim level Tellurides will be the best-sellers.
The SX-Prestige now has a starting MRSP above $50,000. But from its leather upholstery and simulated suede headliner to its digital instrumentation and infotainment systems, the top level Tellurides convey a distinctly upscale look and feel to justify the higher price tag. The 2024s are rolling out now with few changes and another slight bump in price.
All-wheel drive is standard on SX Prestige. Added comfort features start with a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated second-row captain’s chairs. Prestige trim also adds a dual-panel sunroof and Harman Kardon premium sound system. There’s also a head-up display, digital rearview mirror, surround-view camera, and a camera-based Blind-Spot View Monitor system. And a digital key technology allows you to unlock, start and drive the Telluride using your smartphone.
The X-Line package can be added to SX Prestige as well as EX and SX level Tellurides. That brings heavier-duty roof rails, a distinct front grille design, a 0.4-inch boost in ground clearance, a tow mode, and 20-inch alloy wheels.
Our SX Prestige X-Line tester had total MSRP of $54,120 including inland freight and handling. The only extras included were its Wolf Gray paint, Terracotta interior color package and carpeted floormats that added exactly $1,000. So, if you’re comparing Telluride’s top-of-the-line to other luxury SUVs, the top shelf Kia is a contender, indeed. And in that comparison, the SX-Prestige Telluride remains the value option.