2024 Kia Telluride vs Toyota Highlander: Which Three-Row Crossover SUV is Better?

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Kia Telluride vs Toyota Highlander

Kia Telluride versus Toyota Highlander which is the better three-row crossover SUV? That’s what we are going to find out.

The Kia Telluride is a relatively new player in the three-row crossover SUV segment, I’m going to find out whether it’s worthy of all of the buzz and whether it stands a chance against one of the most reputable, well-established players in this class, which is the Toyota Highlander.

Now, I know some might be Oh, a Kia? Really? How does that stand a chance against decades of Toyota reliability? But the Telluride is actually a total game changer.


It is an incredibly well-designed SUV that has so much going for it in terms of both design, technology, and also the features that it includes.

It has a great look to it with a beefy boxy profile, and it has great details as well, especially if you go for the top-of-the-line Night sky edition with its blacked-out trim.

It’s a real sharp-looking SUV and does stand out on the road. It’s also incredibly spacious with a huge interior with lots of room for all three rows for occupants to stretch out and a good-sized cargo area as well.

Naturally, you can fold down all the seats, which is super easy to do, creating even more space.

Interior Space and Comfort

The interior design should really blow away any doubters because it’s incredibly well-finished with lots of upscale materials, fit and finish that looks as though it belongs in a proper luxury SUV.

Technology and Features

The extra-large touch screen infotainment system is super easy to use with really nice-looking graphics, a clear easy-to-use menu structure, and it also comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which works very well.

All of the controls are very straightforward, well laid out, easy to master, and you get tons of features, especially on the higher trim levels.

Higher trim levels get tons of features, even for the back seat passengers, like multiple USB ports for charging your devices, window sunshades, and even heated and ventilated middle row seats.

Safety Feature

On top of all the really well-designed tech available, the Telluride also offers plenty of useful safety features.

The Telluride also offers Kia’s amazing Highway Driving Assist, which is basically a semi-autonomous driving feature that takes control of both the steering, braking, and acceleration when driving at highway speeds.

All the tech and features just come together in a really well-rounded, well-designed package that’s really tough to compete against.

But the Highlander does a pretty decent job. Fully updated for 2020, the Highlander has a new look to it with plenty of its own features and tech to help it keep up with the Telluride.

There is a noticeable difference between the two, and the Highlander just doesn’t offer quite as much space as the Telluride in terms of rear seat space for the third row and a slightly smaller cargo area as well.

The interior, though, is nearly as nice with really nice fit and finish, excellent materials, and it definitely gives off an upscale luxury SUV vibe, especially on the highest trim levels.

Touch Screen

Like the Telluride, the Highlander offers an extra large touch screen infotainment system that’s very easy to use, but the responsiveness and graphics are not quite as sharp, but it does offer both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Although the Highlander doesn’t offer quite as many gadgets and tech as the Telluride, there’s still plenty of toys to play with to keep occupants happy.

The Highlander also comes standard with Toyota’s Safety Sense technology, which includes a wide range of active safety features.

Driving Experience

Both SUVs offer a solid driving experience with excellent ride quality, sound isolation, and good power from the V6 drivetrains.

Engine Specs

In both cases, you get a standard naturally-aspirated V6 engine with around 290 horsepower, matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission with front wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive.

Both SUVs feel like they have a similar amount of power from behind the wheel, and they’re both rated to tow up to 5,000 pounds, which is really nice.

But the Highlander definitely edges the Telluride out when it comes to overall fuel economy with slightly higher numbers.

The Highlander also has the huge benefit of being available with an optional hybrid electric drivetrain, which is something that you can’t get in the Telluride or most three-row SUVs.

The Highlander Hybrid uses a smaller four-cylinder engine matched to a pair of electric motors and a battery pack to produce amazing fuel economy and a still pretty decent 240 horsepower.

Toyota even brags that the Highlander Hybrid has better fuel economy than their smallest, most economical car, the Toyota Yaris, which is a pretty bold claim, but actually mostly true, because when it comes to fuel efficiency, the Highlander Hybrid is one of the best options on the market.

Reliability and Resale Value

Value for money is another area where I feel that the Highlander edges out the Telluride.

Kias were traditionally known for offering a lot of value and features for a significantly lower price than their competitors, but that’s not the case with the Telluride, which actually commands just as much money as the Highlander and other top-rated SUVs in the segment.

In fact, the top-of-the-line Telluride SX Limited Night sky Edition actually has a higher MSRP than the top-of-the-line Highlander platinum package, which is a pretty bold move but shows you how much confidence Kia has in this SUV.

Even though the Telluride is a phenomenally well-designed SUV that has so much going for it in terms of its overall design with plenty of space, features, and technology, pretty much everything a family could ask of it, the one thing that lacking that you get with the Highlander is a really well-established reputation for reliability and longevity.

The bottom line is that the Highlander has been on the market for over 15 years, and over that time, it’s built a really strong reputation for solid reliability, low cost of repairs, and just the general ability to last for a very, very long time without having any serious issues.

Its amazing reliability has also led to really strong resale values, and the Highlander commands a lot more money on the used car market than most of its competitors because it’s such a desirable car overall.

Final Word

So even though the Telluride is a really well-designed SUV that’s done wonders for the Kia brand and its image, I’d still have to give the win to the Toyota Highlander.

As an SUV, it’s nearly as nice as the Telluride in the areas that matter most, but it also offers the bonus of that rock solid reliability, high resale value, and even slightly lower pricing, making it a fantastic value.

It’s the safer choice for long term ownership, and it’s just the easier SUV to recommend.

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