Kia Telluride vs. Toyota Highlander

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 - June 13, 2019

It’s a good time to be in the market for a family SUV. Modern SUVs are safer, more spacious, and thriftier than ever. Two of the frontrunners are the Kia Telluride and the venerable Toyota Highlander. The two cars have much in common. Both seat up to eight, can tow up to 5,000 pounds, and start at around $33,000. Which one’s the better buy? Here’s our take.

See a side-by-side comparison of the Telluride & Highlander »

What the Telluride Gets Right

The starting price of these two SUVs may look similar, but that’s deceptive. The Telluride starts with a 291-horsepower, 3.8-liter V6. The Highlander’s base engine is a four-cylinder engine producing just 185 horsepower. A V6 is available on the Highlander, but it adds more than $2,000 to the starting price. This makes the Telluride a better value.

The Telluride’s other advantage is space. Though both cars come with seating for eight, the Telluride’s boxy shape lets passengers stretch out more. The Telluride has nearly four inches more leg room in both the second and third rows, and the third row has more head room than the Highlander, too.

Cargo capacity is more of the same. Even with the third row upright, the Telluride can fit 21 cubic feet of luggage in the trunk. That’s substantially more than the Highlander’s 13.8 cubic feet.

The Telluride’s final salvo comes on the tech front. Kia’s infotainment system is compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, neither of which are available on the Highlander at time of writing.

What the Highlander Gets Right

Though the Highlander may start with a smaller base engine, it has an ace up its sleeve. Not only does it offer two engine choices, but a hybrid powertrain is available.

The hybrid only comes in all-wheel drive, but the fuel economy is far superior to competitors. The EPA estimates that a Highlander Hybrid will get up to 29 miles per gallon combined, compared to a mediocre 21 mpg combined for an all-wheel drive Telluride.

The Highlander also comes with a refined ride and Toyota reliability. Toyota also leads the pack on safety tech. Although both cars come with an impressive suite of standard active safety features, the Toyota’s strong crash testing made it an IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus.

Clash of the Titans

Both of these SUVs are power players. The Toyota Highlander in particular comes with a long legacy of reliability and practicality. Both offer distinct advantages, too. The Kia Telluride is the better value, but the Highlander’s hybrid drivetrain will appeal to drivers who prioritize fuel economy.

Our Verdict: Kia Telluride

The Kia Telluride offers more bang for the buck in our eyes. The extra cabin space is welcome, the infotainment is superior, and the standard V6 engine makes it a bargain. Though we applaud the Toyota Highlander’s frugal hybrid, the Telluride makes sense for a wider range of buyers.

Take a closer look at the Kia Telluride »

Take a closer look at the Toyota Highlander »

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.


Privacy Policy|Terms of Use|Cookie Policy|Disclaimer
COPYRIGHT 1999-2019 MH Sub I, LLC dba CarsDirect.com