When the Telluride arrived in 2020, America was still living high on low-cost eggs and plentiful toilet paper.
For about a year, Kia sold the Telluride in droves, filling the eager driveways of families still keen on going to soccer games, road tripping to grandma’s house and hitting four school drop-offs in one day.
Little did we know that this SUV would be the last gasp of normalcy before the ’Rona came and the world shut down. Back then, we went places, hugged each other, had plenty of wiping paper and eggs were under 2 bucks a dozen.
Then, everything changed.
Initially, Kia Telluride sales kept going strong because we only had two weeks to beat the curve. No big deal. We can plan past two weeks. Then two became three, then a month, then three months.
And before we knew it, we had no reason to haul the kids to school drop-offs, no soccer games were being played and a new underground butt-wipe economy emerged.
Sales of the Telluride started to drop. Sales of everything started to drop.
At the time there was, we were told, plenty of money. And more would come. For free!
The government, like any good dealer, pimped the free pesos to juice consumer buying. Usually delivering shortly after it was actually needed and often in ways that kind of screwed over those who actually needed it. Which, as we all know, is basically how government operates. Good intentions and all that.
Now in 2023, we’re past all that.
Our only cost was inflation. (What a deal!) And for 2023, the Kia Telluride is changed.
It has a few upgrades, and is about $3,000 more expensive. Which, coincidentally, is probably about what most of us gained in income thanks to the gig economy that the pandemic caused to flourish. Or so I’m told.
Most of the Kia Telluride’s strengths are what I’ve already mentioned. It’s a great family hauler, it’s spacious and strikes a nice balance between being premium in appeal without being premium in price point.
Starting price for the 2023 Kia Telluride is about $37,000 or so, plus delivery.
For 2023, Kia has added some changes to the front and rear styling of the Telluride. Most of these changes soften the “truck” look of the SUV to make it a little more contemporary. The interior gets bigger driver information/gauge and infotainment displays. And some of the technologies present get improved operation.
But what didn’t change was the stuff that made me not really get excited about the Telluride to start with.
The Telluride has been very popular with the motoring press. My colleagues all love this thing. It has the right look and appeal to hit all the correct “I’m not old yet” parental vibes while containing the three-rows of seating and interior comfort levels that make a minivan so great. The Telluride is, for sure, a good-looking vehicle.
But some of us have to drive it in the winter.
And to be really frank, the Kia Telluride isn’t terribly great at that. Its all-wheel drive system is good and, if anything, better than discount rack all-season or winter treads are put on it, it’s OK in the snow and ice. But not great. And the windshield wipers go underneath the top of the hood, which is in a U-shape. So, snow impacts in there, causing the wipers to stick and not work, which is past annoying.
The Kia’s platform-sharing cousin, the Hyundai Pallisade has neither of these problems.
The 2023 Telluride has a 3.8-liter V6 that outputs about 1,309,500 hamsters (aka 291hp) to an eight-speed automatic transmission. This is a solid combo that feels good in most driving situations. The all-wheel drive models are good goers, but aren’t as sure-footed as some rivals in the snow and ice.
Both Subaru and Honda have better grip and the Toyota option is better at distributing torque when things get slick.
On the up side, the 2023 Kia Telluride has one of the most comfortable interiors (even in the third row) in its segment. No other three-row SUV I can name is better. A few are close equals, but none are better.
And the technology in the Kia Telluride is top shelf useful.
Standard in the 2023 Telluride is adaptive cruise control, blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic alerts, forward collision mitigation and lane-keeping assist. Both the instrument cluster and the infotainment screens are 12.3 inches and navigation comes standard.
Added this year are the X-Line and X-Pro trim upgrades. The X-Line’s upgrades are mainly cosmetic, adding about half an inch in ground clearance, higher roof rails, grille changes and all-season tires. The X-Pro does the same, but changes suspension tuning for a more off-road focus.
I will note that if you’re planning on considering the Kia Telluride as an off-road machine, you probably don’t know what off-roading is. So … yeah, have at it. Who am I to inject wisdom in here?
The 2023 Kia Telluride is a nice SUV and a great family machine with a lot of upsides. In the Wyoming winter, however, it might pay to look at other options. During the week I had the X-Pro model, and stuck wipers and slippery maneuvering were the norm as the snow came down.
Photos by Aaron Turpen