Kia adds styling updates for 2023 to award-winning Telluride

By Paul Borden

(January 6, 2023) Introduced as a 2020 model at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, it didn’t take long for the Kia Telluride to make a good first impression. Within a year of its launch, a panel of 50 judges for the North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year competition named the Telluride its Utility Vehicle of the Year; MotorTrend selected it as its SUV of the Year; and Car and Driver put it among its 10 Best Vehicles of the Year, a veritable Triple Crown of automotive awards.

In its first full-year on the market, the 2020 Telluride became the South Korean automaker’s third-best selling vehicle behind only two of its budget-minded offerings, the Kia Forte compact sedan and Sportage compact SUV.

The success has continued. The Telluride just missed the six-figure mark in sales with 99,891 sold in 2022. (Kia reported 125,245 for the Sportage and 108,424 for the Forte.)

Though the basics remain the same for all Tellurides (i.e., a 3.8-liter V6 engine is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission and seating capacity is 7 or 8 in three rows), Kia has added styling touches the last couple of years to keep the Telluride looking fresh. The new Kia logo and grille are just two tweaks.

The 2023 Kia Telluride adds X-Line and X-Pro versions in its lineup as well as an SX-Prestige trim to its traditional portfolio of LX, S, SX, and EX models. This review is based on the 2023 Kia Telluride SX-Prestige X-Line which is packaged with all-wheel drive as standard. AWD is optional on other trims, FWD is standard.

Standard features for the 2023 Kia Telluride SX-Prestige X-Line include a new 12.3-inch display screen with navigation, a digital rearview mirror, dual sunroofs, Smart key with push-button start, Harman/Kardon sound system, Nappa leather seat trim, heated and ventilated power front seats, a heated steering wheel, power liftgate, 20-inch wheels, and roof rails.

Photos by Paul Borden

Safety features include Forward Collision Avoidance, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic warning, adaptable cruise control, lane-departure warning, and parking assist. The 2.0 version of the standard Highway Driving Assist and Safe Exit systems also are included.

The X-Line features add black alloy wheels, a self-leveling rear suspension system, tow mode, and distinctive styling tweaks.

With 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque, the 3.8L V6 engine provides enough punch for a suitable driving experience. Five drive modes — Smart, Sport, Comfort, Eco, and Snow — are featured.

Fuel mileage is so-so at best with EPA ratings of 18 miles-per-gallon city, 24 highway, and 21 combined, though it does run on regular 87 octane fuel.

The 2023 Kia Telluride SX-Prestige X-Line carries a considerably high starting MSRP of $51,785 compared with other Telluride trim levels that start under $40,000.

But the break comes with the news that few options are required to enjoy all that the Telluride has to offer. My test version totaled out at $54,129 with the bulk of that the $1,335 for destination and delivery. The only options were the exterior paint that Kia calls Wolf Gray but will remind veterans familiar with Naval vehicles of Battleship Gray, the terracotta interior, and carpeted floor mats.

What I liked about the 2023 Kia Telluride SX-Prestige X-Line: The interior is roomy with an upscale appearance. The abundant infotainment features are user-friendly, and the 12.3-inch screen for navigation covers a lot of territory. There’s even a knob to surf the radio dial. The V6, standard on all trims, provides a lively driving experience.

What I didn’t like about the 2023 Kia Telluride SX-Prestige X-Line: Storage room behind the third row is tight, which is a common lament among 3-row SUVs. The alerts on safety functions can be a bit on the aggressive side and sometimes you may wonder exactly what that annoying bing could be for.

Would I buy the 2023 Kia Telluride SX-Prestige X-Line? I’m not looking for a 3-row SUV, but if you are, it definitely belongs on your shopping list. And high up, too.