The Right Spec: 2023 Kia Telluride
Leaving aside the absolutely psychotic dealer markup being slapped on these things by some sellers over the last couple of years, the squared-off Telluride represents a good-looking and reasonably equipped SUV which has been eating the lunch of more than a few established competitors.
This model year brings a few cosmetic changes and a dizzying 10 different trim levels. Which one do we prefer? Why, the one without any greedy markup, of course.
Until recently, we would have said ‘good luck’ to anyone using those parameters in their search. However, some (*some*) stores have begun coming back down to earth, which is good news for shoppers – less so for the poor sods who paid $10k over sticker and rolled in a yaffle of negative equity. Alas.
But back to the car. A two-wheel drive LX trim starts at $35,690 which is a sum generally associated with rigs at least one size down the ladder from here. It comes with the near-as-makes-no-difference 300 horsepower V6, the ability to haul 5,000 pounds, and room for eight people (just not at the same time as towing all that weight, mmmkay?). Toss in the likes of an enormous 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen, dual-zone climate, stop-n-go cruise, and five USB chargers to create an affordable beast that some customers apparently compare with a Chevy Tahoe. We know the difference, of course, but that squared-off styling is apparently enough for some to draw the similarity.
Still, color choice is sorely limited – even at extra cost – in the LX. Making the $2,000 walk to an S trim opens the palette to much more interesting hues, also bringing 20-inch wheels and items like push-button start and wireless charging. It also bins the second-row bench in favor of bucket seats, which may appeal to some buyers but not this author. After all, folding the third-row for storage simply turns this (and many other large SUVs) into an enormous four-passenger conveyance. All-wheel drive remains an option.
Which is why if we’re going to move up the trim ladder, it’s just as well to settle at the EX X-Line version. All-wheel drive is standard at $45,485 as are things such as a sunroof, leather seats, and a generally more ‘rugged’ appearance with its black trim and available Jungle Green paint. Practically speaking, the X-Line trims have 0.4-inch extra ground clearance than other trims, matching the new X-Pro which does admittedly have a smidgen better approach/departure angle.
All the same, if you decide to save 10 grand and stick with the LX, we won’t blame you. Every single Telluride, regardless of trim, has precisely the same interior space, horsepower output, brake size, and ability to tow around 5,000 pounds. If one can live with a dreary color (and chooses to slap on a set of BFG KO2s) it might just be the pick of the litter.
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