Nonetheless Punching Above its Weight

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2023 Kia Telluride SX X-Pro in blue, parked on dirt outdoors in San Antonio TX.

Picture: Steven Ewing

Usually, “best-in-class” is only a silly advertising phrase in terms of automobiles. Then I get in a Kia Telluride and I’m like, alright, tremendous, I get it. That’s as a result of each time I drive a Telluride, I’m wondering why anybody would ever purchase another midsize SUV. It appears rad, drives nicely, comes filled with creature comforts and it’s even (comparatively) reasonably priced. Hell, I’d take certainly one of these over loads of luxurious SUVs. The Telluride is a benchmark outlined.

Heading into 2023, the Telluride will get a few little updates that solely bolster its inherent goodness. A brand new X-Professional off-road trim, higher cabin tech and an extended record of security techniques are the principle highlights of this mid-cycle zhuzh. However the most effective factor concerning the Telluride has nothing to do with what’s modified — it’s all about what hasn’t.

(Full disclosure: Kia put me up for 2 nights at a stylish resort in San Antonio, TX, that vaguely smelled like Axe physique spray so I might drive the 2023 Telluride with a bunch of journalists. Kia additionally let me take a Telluride to Buc-ee’s so I might expertise this beacon of Americana in all its glory. In fact, I paid for the memento beaver hat myself.)

Close-up photo of the driver's side headlight on a 2023 Kia Telluride SX X-Pro painted blue.

Picture: Steven Ewing

Right here’s your 2023 Telluride spotter’s information: Search for the brand new daytime operating lights. I’ll admit I’m slightly pissed at Kia for ditching the previous Telluride’s amber headlamp define in favor of twin white vertical LEDs. And I do know I’m nitpicking right here, however come on, the Telluride appears actually cool, and amber lights are simply higher.

The X-Pro updo makes the Telluride slightly more butch thanks to less than half an inch of suspension lift and 18-inch wheels wrapped in 245/60 Continental TerrainContact all-terrain tires. Kia added a less-impressive X-Line model to the Telluride’s roster for 2023, too, and while it has the same ride height increase and visual tweaks as the X-Pro, it comes with 20s and basic all-season tires. The X-Line isn’t really any more rugged than a normal Telluride, and it doesn’t even look that different. But hey, cool roof rails, I guess.

Blue 2023 Kia Telluride SX X-Pro on an off-road course, with its left front wheel in the air as it crawls out of a ditch.

Photo: Steven Ewing

Driving on a manicured off-road course through what I can only describe as half quarry, half wild animal sanctuary, the Telluride X-Pro shows its strengths — and its weaknesses. The little hike in ground clearance means you can drive over slightly more stuff, but the Telluride doesn’t have any underbody protection at all, so you’ll hear lots of expensive-sounding scrapes, and you might damage something vital if you come down hard on a rock. Retuned traction control settings and a new hill-descent function give you a little more surefootedness on dusty trails, but really, the X-Pro is not an off-roader. Sure, it’ll get you to the trailhead, but if you want to go any further, buy a Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Three blue 2023 Kia Telluride SX X-Pro vehicles drive in a line on a dirt path in San Antonio, TX.

Picture: Steven Ewing

However, these all-terrain tires include a bonus on-road profit: The taller sidewalls enhance the trip high quality. Kia did an incredible job tuning the Telluride’s suspension throughout the board, however the X-Professional is especially comfortable. Sure, the knobby tread sample is slightly louder than the inventory all-seasons, however not annoyingly so. Crank the tunes and also you received’t even discover.

Driving a Telluride X-Line with the 20-inch wheels can be fairly serene. Physique motions are properly managed; the Telluride isn’t tippy whereas cornering and is regular and assured when I’ve to hit the brakes to keep away from rear-ending the bro within the lifted Silverado who minimize me off (ah, Texas). Even the steering is surprisingly partaking, with a pleasant, weighty really feel. In comparison with the Telluride, rivals just like the Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander and Volkswagen Atlas are simply so freaking uninteresting.

Close-up image of the left front wheel and tire on a blue 2023 Kia Telluride SX X-Pro

Picture: Steven Ewing

Kia didn’t contact the Telluride’s powertrain for 2023, so it makes use of the identical naturally aspirated 3.8-liter V6 as earlier than. This engine’s 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque are tremendous, and the 8-speed computerized transmission is silky easy. It’d be neat to see Kia swap in a smaller-displacement turbocharged engine with extra low-end torque, or provide some form of electrified choice, particularly since so most of the Telluride’s rivals have these powertrain decisions. However Kia already can’t construct sufficient Tellurides to maintain up with demand, so the only real V6 engine clearly isn’t an issue. The 23-mpg mixed EPA gasoline financial system ranking (with front-wheel drive) isn’t out of line amongst midsize SUVs, both.

Energetic security techniques are in excessive provide, with forward-collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping help and adaptive cruise management coming normal on each Telluride, in addition to Kia’s Freeway Driving Help that mixes these final two. A extra strong Freeway Driving Help 2 suite is accessible on a number of the extra loaded trims, although it actually solely provides computerized lane-changes to its record of can-dos.

The interior of the 2023 Kia Telluride SX X-Pro, shown with caramel brown leather upholstery and a detailed view of the steering wheel and center console.

Picture: Steven Ewing

The good tech improve is discovered contained in the Telluride; get a load of that new curved show. Each Telluride has a 12.3-inch middle display with embedded navigation and a Wi-Fi hotspot, although, annoyingly, this software program nonetheless doesn’t assist wi-fi Apple CarPlay or Android Auto — one thing Kia incorporates on smaller touchscreens in its different fashions. No less than there are each USB-A and USB-C ports up entrance, and an obtainable wi-fi charging pad with built-in cooling. All Tellurides have a digital gauge cluster, too, however solely the dearer grades have reconfigurable screens with a selection of designs.

All the things else concerning the Telluride’s inside carries over unchanged, which is ok, as a result of it’s excellent. The chairs are plush, there’s loads of head- and legroom in all three rows, and the Telluride is hella capacious, with 87 cubic ft of house with the again rows folded. Go for an SX Status and also you get gentle leather-based seating surfaces, a pretend suede headliner, actual metallic controls and open-pore wooden trim. You would possibly balk at a Telluride SX Status with an MSRP above $50,000, however this Kia is healthier than luxurious SUVs from Acura, Buick, Infiniti and extra. Severely, are you able to think about shopping for a Cadillac XT6 over this?

View of the 2023 Kia Telluride SX X-Pro's dashboard and steering wheel from the driver's vantage point.

Picture: Steven Ewing

Even on the bottom finish, the 2023 Telluride is a good worth. Its $37,025 beginning value (together with $1,335 for vacation spot) is true according to the aggressive set, however the Kia appears higher than every thing else in its class and has an extended record of normal facilities. The most affordable technique to get into an X-Line is on an EX mannequin, at $46,820, and the X-Professional choice turns into obtainable on the SX degree, for $51,220.

Kia is presently within the course of of creating room for elevated Telluride manufacturing, and given the continued sturdy demand, that’s positively a wise transfer. Gross sales present no indicators of slowing down, and why would they? The unique Telluride set a brand new normal for midsize SUVs, and the 2023 mannequin solely furthers that achievement.

A blue 2023 Kia Telluride SX X-Pro parked at the top of a steeply sloped pile of dirt at an off-road course.

Picture: Steven Ewing

2023 Kia Telluride SX-P X-Professional AWD Specs

Engine sort

Common Unleaded V-6

Transmission/Drive

Automated w/OD

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