Compared: 2022 Kia Telluride vs. 2022 Toyota Highlander

The ever-popular three-row Toyota has a real rival in this cool Kia.

Kia | Toyota

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Say “three-row SUV” and the Toyota Highlander likely springs to mind. It’s easily the most popular—and best-selling— model in that segment, but a relatively new nameplate from Korea has begun to steal some of the spotlight. Introduced in 2019, the Kia Telluride readily became a darling of the automotive media, racking up awards from the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, MotorTrend, and Car and Driver. But while accolades are nice, a vehicle’s price, fuel economy, and interior space are where the rubber meets the road. We’ll explore how the Kia stacks up against the best-selling Toyota in these key categories.


Kia Telluride vs. Toyota Highlander: Price

The base Telluride starts around $35,000, about $2,000 less than the entry Highlander. Every one of the four trim levels (LX, S, EX, and SX) uses a 291-hp V6 engine and comes standard with front-wheel drive, though Kia offers all-wheel drive for between $1,900 and $2,000. Those who want niceties such as leather seats and a power liftgate will need to pick the EX (around $40,000) or a higher trim, but only the top-of-the-line SX—which starts at about $45,000—comes with a surround-view camera, premium Harman Kardon stereo, and front parking sensors.


The Highlander offers a choice of powertrains: a 295-hp V6 and a 243-hp, four-cylinder-based hybrid.

The lowliest model without electrification opens just above $37,000, whereas the least expensive hybrid model costs around $41,000. Shoppers can opt for all-wheel drive for another $1,600 or $1,950, depending on the trim level and powertrain. You’ll find a power liftgate in the one-up-from-base LE model for around $39,000, but for leather seats, you’ll need to upgrade to at least the sport-tuned XSE for a little less than $44,000.


Kia Telluride vs. Toyota Highlander: Interior

The Telluride, with more than 178 cubic-feet of passenger volume, has a more spacious cabin than the Highlander, which has a touch over 141. Passengers in the second and third rows will find more head- and legroom in the Kia, which also boasts more cargo room without folding the seats. With the third row stowed, the Toyota comes out on top, 48.4 cubes to the Kia’s 46.


Both vehicles offer many amenities, including heated seats in the first two rows, a heated steering wheel, and three-zone climate control, but the Kia feels a bit more modern inside. It also comes standard with a 10.25-inch infotainment screen (versus the Highlander’s 8-incher), and buyers can spec seat ventilation for the first and second rows, whereas Toyota limits it to the front.


Kia Telluride vs. Toyota Highlander: Fuel Economy

The Telluride falls short of the Highlander in fuel consumption: Front-drive versions return 23 mpg combined, while all-wheel-drive models manage just 21.


The comparable V6-powered Highlander, meanwhile, manages 24 mpg combined in front-drive form and 23 mpg with all-wheel drive. Of course, none of those ratings comes close to the hybridized Highlander, which returns 36 mpg combined with only the front wheels in play and 35 mpg with all-wheel drive.

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Sami Haj-Assaad
Sami Haj-Assaad is an award-winning automotive journalist who has contributed to several automotive, electric vehicle, luxury lifestyle, and technology publications. His work isn't just limited to the written word, as he's also hosted YouTube videos and podcasts. Having grown up in the '90s, he has a strong sense of attachment to that era's style, though he also loves to geek out about the modern, futuristic tech and powertrains rolling out today.