Kia Hits the Trails With the Slightly Rugged X-Pro Trim

Tougher looks and a dose of off-road capability add to the Sportage and Telluride lineups.

Closeup of an X-Pro badge on a 2024 Kia Telluride X-ProKia

Updated on September 19, 2023

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It seems these days that even the most commuter-friendly crossover buyers are hankering to hit the trails. At the same time, there are likely those who merely want to appear as if they could tackle something more treacherous than the morning coffee drive-through.

Seeking to tap into these consumer desires, Kia introduced for 2023 an almost-rugged trim level called X-Pro. The trim is available on two of the automaker's most popular sport-utility vehicles, the compact Sportage and the three-row midsize Telluride. These X-Pro versions are aimed at the heart of the overlanding craze that has sent many car campers off the beaten path to find weekend fun.

 Front three-quarter view of a green 2024 Kia Sportage X-ProKia

What Kia's X-Pro Gets You

Kia has kept the X-Pro upgrades relatively light. On the cosmetic side, Kia adds bulkier-looking bumpers front and rear, with unique matte-black wheels and plastic cladding along the rockers, providing the illusion of protective rock rails. Roof racks and a special color palette inside and out are hallmarks of an X-Pro. Kia's SynTex upholstery that is more resistant to stains and other grime is also included.

 Closeup of a tire on a green 2024 Kia Sportage X-ProKia

On the mechanical side of the equation, Kia provides standard all-wheel drive, a suspension update that tweaks shocks and springs to add a smidge of additional ground clearance — up to 8.3 inches for the Sportage and 8.4 for the Telluride — a locking center differential, and knobby all-terrain tires.

Rear three-quarter view of a green 2024 Kia Sportage X-ProKia

The Kia Sportage and Telluride Offer the X-Pro Trim

For 2023 and 2024, Kia will offer the Sportage X-Pro and Telluride X-Pro. Although the styling details vary somewhat between these two vehicles, they have almost identical trail-focused gear. The Telluride X-Pro does offer a towing capacity of 5,500 pounds. That's an additional 500 pounds over the base V6 version.

Another Kia X family member is the X-Line, which affords buyers most of the look of an actual Sportage X-Pro or Telluride X-Pro without the extra off-road hardware.

Front three-quarter view of a gray 2024 Kia Telluride X-ProKia

How the Kia X-Pro Fits In With the Competition

Kia has entered a suddenly crowded market of options that appeal to drivers who want to head off-road but aren't interested in hardcore rock crawling.

At the entry level, the Kia Sportage X-Pro faces stiff competition from Subaru's Wilderness upgrade on the Outback, Forester, and Crosstrek.

Side view of a gray 2024 Kia Sportage X-ProKia

Models such as the Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road and the Mazda CX-50, a pair of compact crossovers on roughly the same level as the Sportage X-Pro, are less focused but still on the radar.

The Kia Telluride X-Pro faces off most directly against the Ford Explorer Timberline and the Honda Pilot TrailSport. Each offers three rows of passenger accommodations and a modest level of off-road improvement in features and equipment.

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Benjamin Hunting
Benjamin Hunting is a writer and podcast host who contributes to a number of newspapers, automotive magazines, and online publications. More than a decade into his career, he enjoys keeping the shiny side up during track days and always has one too many classic vehicle projects partially disassembled in his garage at any given time. Remember, if it's not leaking, it's probably empty.