After spending a week behind the wheel, it seems clear to me that Kia not only identified and addressed Telluride’s modest shortcomings. It also found ways to improve on what were already some notable advantages. Among other things, Kia has added two new trim packages for 2023, the X-Line and X-Pro.
It’s easy to imagine that the Kia Telluride will continue to gain momentum in a growing market for three-row SUVs.
In short: The new X-Pro package is my favorite 2023 Telluride offering. The latest Kia Telluride doesn’t offer a very sporty drive or great fuel economy — and lacks a hybrid option — but it is still a very compelling three-row SUV option.
- Engine 3.8 L, V6, 8-speed
- HP/Torque 291 @ 6,000 rpm / 262 lb.-ft. @ 5,200 rpm
- FWD 26 hw, 20 city, 23 cmb
- AWD 18 hw, 24 city, 21 cmb
- Cargo 21 cu. ft.
- Towing 5,500 lbs.
- 2 new trim packages for 2023: X-Line and X-Pro
- Roomy third row
- Large rear quarter windows provide great visibility
- Larger screens and Wi-Fi hotspot for 2023
- USB ports for all 3 rows
- Lacks a hybrid option
- OK fuel economy
- Not very sporty driving experience
2023 Telluride: Modest Design Tweaks
As a mid-lifecycle update, the visual changes to the Telluride are relatively modest. These include new, vertically-oriented LED headlamps — now standard across the line-up. There’s a new grille design and revised bumpers, front and back. The taillights are updated, and each version of the big SUV now gets its own unique wheel design.
A key element of Telluride’s appeal is its roomy interior. Even the third row — typically a “penalty box” on other vehicles in this segment — can fit real, grown adults. The flip-and-fold second-row seats make it reasonably easy to climb in the back. Those in the middle row can take advantage of tilting, sliding seats.
There’s also great visibility for all onboard, thanks to the rear quarter windows. Even with all rows up, there’s a near segment-leading 21 cubic feet of cargo space when you remove the cover from a hidden storage compartment.
Inside, Telluride’s dashboard and steering wheel designs also have been updated. But it’s on the technology side that you’ll find the biggest updates.
Plenty of Tech Upgrades
All trim levels of the 2023 Telluride now feature 12.3-inch screens for both the gauge cluster and infotainment system. Along with the larger displays, there’s more useful technology onboard, starting with a WiFi hotspot.
The package of advanced driver infotainment technologies also adds new functions, including a road sign detection system that automatically limits the vehicle’s speed.
The navigation-based active cruise control system also can automatically adjust vehicle speed when approaching tight curves to help maintain stability and passenger comfort. The Highway Drive Assist 2 system is standard on SX trims and above.
As before, the 2023 Telluride features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as Sirius/XM satellite radio. There are now USB ports for all three rows, and, in one of the more creative moves, Kia has placed some of those ports in the back of the front seats, making it easier for folks in the middle row to connect.
New X-Line & X-Pro Packages
For 2023, the big news comes with the launch of the two new Telluride trim packages. The X-Line replaces the old Nightfall Edition and gets some distinctive design cues, including a unique grille, bridge-style roof rails, and exclusive 20-inch wheels. X-Line also adds 0.4 inches of ground clearance — bringing it to a total of 8.4 inches — while modestly improving approach and departure angles.
The Telluride X-Line also adds a new Tow Mode to help when pulling a trailer. Among other things, this is designed to reduce inadvertent sway when towing at higher speeds or while driving on especially windy days.
Those who want to do some serious towing or deal with light to moderate off-road conditions might consider the new X-Pro. It adds unique 18-inch wheels and tires and a 110-volt outlet in the cargo area. It also boosts the 2023 Kia Telluride’s towing capacity from 5,000 to 5,500 pounds.
To haul such heavy loads, Kia carries over Telluride’s 3.8L V6 producing 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. An active on-demand all-wheel-drive system is available, though the base package drives power through the front wheels.
You’ll get as much as 26 miles per gallon on the highway with the front-drive version of the 2023 Telluride, with the EPA estimating 20 mpg in the city and 23 combined. The AWD package cuts the numbers to 18/24/21. Reasonable figures for a three-row crossover, though it would be great to get a hybrid package like Kia offers in the smaller Sorento line.
Telluride beats out some key three-row competitors if you’re going by the numbers. The newly redesigned Honda Pilot, for example, makes 285 horsepower and 261 pound-feet of torque.
But the Pilot’s new TrailSport package may be a slightly better choice for those who expect to do some moderately serious off-roading, based on my time driving both vehicles.
2023 Telluride Driving Impressions
Under less aggressive conditions, on-road or off, the updated 2023 Telluride is one of the best choices available in its segment.
That 3.8L V6 certainly is reasonably responsive, though it won’t put the accent on “sport” utility vehicle. And, with so much mass, there is a moderate amount of body roll when you head into a sharp corner.
Steering is predictable, albeit a bit light in Comfort and Eco modes, but tightens up in the Sport and Smart settings, the latter automatically adjusting to driver input and road conditions.
I found the X-Pro package to be my favorite. It adds a bit more off-roadability to the 2023 Kia Telluride, a benefit of both the higher ground clearance and the Continental Terrain Contact tires. I had expected to suffer degradation in ride comfort on paved roads but noticed little difference from non-X-Pro models.
2023 Kia Telluride Review: A Good Price for a Great Package
For those who want maximum comfort on-road, as well as the ability to adapt to rougher driving conditions, a rear air suspension package is available. Even without that option, the 2023 Telluride offers a smooth ride and a surprisingly quiet one, at that.
There were plenty of reasons why the 2020 Kia Telluride scored so well with critics — full disclosure; I was one of the NACTOY jurors who voted for it — as well as consumers. Based on my initial experience with the updated 2023 model, I’ll predict it should fare equally well going forward. And I don’t think that puts me out on a limb.
The mid-cycle refresh adds a variety of features that buyers should appreciate on top of the clear advantages the original model brought to market. And, with a base price of $37,255 — climbing to $54,350 for the top-line SX Prestige X-Pro — you’ll get all that for a surprisingly reasonable investment.