Kia Sorento vs. Kia Telluride

By

Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


, Automotive Editor - April 16, 2021

Not too long ago, the Kia Sorento was the brand’s largest SUV. That changed with the debut of the Kia Telluride, which has quickly become a strong contender among midsize crossovers.

The Sorento received a redesign of its own for 2021. Which of these new three-row SUVs is worth your money? Here’s our take based on a comparison of key specs & features.

See a side-by-side comparison of the Kia Sorento & the Kia Telluride »

What the Sorento Gets Right

Though both are technically midsize crossovers, the Kia Sorento is eight inches shorter than the Telluride. As the smaller vehicle, the Sorento is several thousand dollars cheaper than the Telluride in equivalent trim. For the price, buyers get many of the same features, including the same safety features and infotainment system.

The Telluride is only available with a V-6 engine, but the Sorento offers several powertrains. Most notably, the Sorento offers a hybrid option, and a plug-in version is due sometime this year. That makes the Sorento far more efficient — it will do up to 37 mpg combined against the Telluride’s rating of 23 mpg combined.

The Sorento is a few hundred pounds lighter than the Telluride, which gives the smaller crossover better handling when the road gets twisty. When equipped with the optional turbo engine, 311 lb-ft of torque makes the Sorento feel quicker off the line, too.

Finally, the Sorento offers a dedicated off-roading trim (albeit a pricey one) in the SX Prestige X-Line. With 8.2 inches of clearance, it’s the Kia to have if you plan on straying from the pavement.

What the Telluride Gets Right

The Kia Telluride makes good use of its extra size. Although both are three-row SUVs, the Telluride’s third row is much more spacious. It has enough room for three passengers, and it’s more comfortable for adult-size riders.

The Telluride has extra leg and headroom in the first two rows, too. It has a significant advantage in cargo space, with an impressive maximum capacity of 87 cu ft. Thanks in part to the airy interior, the Telluride feels more luxurious inside. The Sorento’s interior design isn’t quite to our taste, and we prefer the high-quality materials in the Telluride.

The Telluride follows a long tradition of boxy SUVs, but it updates the look in admirable fashion. Its clean lines are easier on the eye than the new Sorento, which has a few too many creases and angles.

Finally, the Telluride’s simple V-6 powertrain gives it the edge on utility. The Sorento can tow up to 3,500 pounds, while a properly equipped Telluride will handle 5,000. Aside from the Prestige X-Line, the Telluride will be more confident in rough conditions.

The Price of Size

The Sorento is a versatile crossover, and it’s a decent value in most trims. If you don’t need the towing capacity or interior space of the Telluride, the Sorento offers most of the same features for less cash. Its hybrid powertrain is a particularly compelling advantage.

For many buyers, the Telluride’s extra size will be worth the asking price. Its third row is much more usable, and its interior is spacious and luxurious. A stylish exterior helps, too.

Our Verdict: Kia Telluride

We’d love to see the Telluride benefit from a hybrid powertrain, and eco-minded buyers should still look to the Sorento. In most other respects, however, the Telluride is a more polished package. Kia’s largest model is a winner, and it’s among our favorite three-row SUVs.

Take a closer look at the Kia Sorento »

Take a closer look at the Toyota Sienna »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


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