2022 Kia Telluride Review | Our top-recommended 3-row SUV

2022 Kia Telluride Review | Our top-recommended 3-row SUV

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Who would've thunk that one of the hottest cars on the market would be a three-row family crossover from Kia, of all brands? Yet, that's exactly what the 2022 Kia Telluride is. Demand was already through the roof before pandemic-related shortages compounded things, resulting in customers either finding no Tellurides available to purchase or gigantic dealer markups driving prices up far beyond the not-insignificant MSRP. In other words, no matter how much we recommend the 2022 Telluride, you may not be able to find or afford one.

All of that said, the 2022 Kia Telluride is indeed our top-recommended three-row family SUV. First and foremost, it is supremely practical, providing space in all three rows for full-size adults or teenagers — that's not a given in its segment. It also provides more cargo space than most, including its mechanically related Hyundai Palisade sibling (speaking of which, if you can't find a Telluride, trying turning next to a Palisade or at least Kia's smaller Sorento three-row SUV). Kia also provides loads of equipment, user-friendly infotainment features, well-executed safety tech and above-average fuel economy. The only real downside, besides its general scarcity, it that it's merely OK to drive, with an engine that's nothing special in terms of fuel economy and acceleration. Ultimately, the Telluride's most appealing attribute is that it manages to be one of the most practical family crossovers without looking overtly like a practical family crossover. There's more than a whiff of Range Rover about it, which undoubtedly has fueled its on-fire demand. The fact that Kia has finally adopted a new logo for 2022 that doesn't remind one of crummy old Kia Sephias and Spectras should stoke that fire even more.

Interior & Technology | Passenger & Cargo Space | Performance & Fuel Economy

What it's like to drive | Pricing & Features | Crash Ratings & Safety Features

What's new for 2022?

Yes, the Telluride gets Kia's new logo for for 2022, but the Telluride is otherwise visually identical inside and out (that's why we've kept most of our same photos in this review). In other badging news, the trim level and engine badges have been removed from the tailgate. More important, the 10.25-inch touchscreen upgrade trickles down to the LX and S trim levels along with the Highway Driving Assist adaptive cruise control.

Read what's coming for the 2023 Kia Telluride, including its updated styling and new X-Pro trim level.

What are the Telluride interior and in-car technology like?

Admittedly, we've only had contact with the ritziest, range-topping Telluride SX model that boasts soft, interestingly stitched leather, convincing faux wood trim, and a generally luxurious ambience that trumps nearly everything else in the segment (it's a coin flip between it and the mechanically related Hyundai Palisade). It also costs less than range-topping rivals that actually have less equipment.


Now, will an LX and EX be as swank? No, but the general quality of plastics, switchgear and other materials should still be above average. Every Telluride is also extremely well equipped. Check out the pricing and features section below for a full breakdown, but suffice to say, you don't need to pay top dollar to get heated and ventilated seats, sunshades and an abundance of infotainment features.

Indeed, every Telluride comes standard with five USB ports, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite radio, and for 2022, the same wide 10.25-inch touchscreen that used to be found on only the top trim levels. Not only will this large screen impress your friends with its largesse, but it's one of the more functional on the market as well. You can find our full Telluride Infotainment Review here. You still have to get one of the upper trims to add to it wireless smartphone charging, integrated navigation and a grand total of seven USB ports spread throughout all rows. The ports embedded in the backs of the front seats are unique (pictured above, bottom right), and shorten the distance between phone and port for those in the second row.

How big is the Telluride?

The 2022 Telluride is a large, three-row family crossover, eclipsing most competitors in terms of overall length and interior space. On paper, second- and third-row legroom is particularly generous, and we confirmed this in person by comfortably fitting 6-foot-tall people back-to-back in all three rows. That's a rare feet for any vehicle, especially in terms of the third row. The way-back's comfort and space are enhanced by its ample headroom and reclining capability, as well as the sliding second row (available as a bench or captain's chairs). We also like the large rear quarter windows that help the Telluride's third row avoid the claustrophobic feel of many competitors. Access to the third row is gained by pressing a button on the second-row captain's chairs (if so equipped), which automatically slides and flips the seat forward. This may be conveniently simple, but the resulting gap isn't that big.

Cargo space also betters that of most competitors, even with the third-row raised. There's 21 cubic feet with all seats in place, versus the 16 to 18 range of most rival crossovers (it's even more than the mechanically related Hyundai Palisade that's jumbo in its own right). Now, as we discovered when cargo-testing the Telluride, achieving that 21-cubic-foot max capacity behind the third row is accomplished by removing the floor panel (stored outside the car) that adds 5 inches of depth, but nevertheless, the result is being able to stow more bags than any other three-row crossover besides the Chevrolet Traverse/Buick Enclave.

With all seats lowered, only the Ford Explorer and Chevrolet Traverse outdo the Telluride's 87 cubic feet of maximum space.

What are the Telluride fuel economy and performance specs?

Unlike the Sorento, which provides a choice of hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains, the Telluride continues to offer a single choice of engine: a 3.8-liter V6 engine that produces 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. These are strong numbers for the segment. An eight-speed automatic and front-wheel drive are standard, but all-wheel is an option. That system constantly alters the amount of power going to the front and rear axles, with the percentage of distribution differing depending on the selected drive mode. For instance, Sport splits power 65/35 front/rear, whereas Comfort and Snow have a 80/20 split. There's also a Lock mode best suited for off-roading, which keeps things 50/50. Towing capacity is rated at 5,000 pounds, which is typical for a large family crossover.

EPA-estimated fuel economy is 20 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined with front-wheel drive, and 19/24/21 with all-wheel drive. This is effectively the same as most competitors.

What's the Telluride like to drive?

The Telluride definitely doesn't follow in the footsteps of the Stinger or other sporty Kias that demonstrate sharp handling and even driving fun. There's lots of body roll, but it's not uncontrolled, as the suspension sets itself nicely through a corner while maintaining composure over big bumps or undulations. The steering, at least in Smart or Sport modes, is also precise enough and provides confidence to the driver. The Comfort mode is too numb and allows too much play at speed.

In terms of ride quality, the optional big 20-inch wheels create choppy reactions to certain road imperfections and we'd avoid them. In general, though, the ride is perfectly pleasant and at least comparable to most competitors. Really, the Telluride strikes a great balance between comfort and driver confidence that should be perfect for many. It also, importantly, doesn't drive as big as its sizable dimensions would imply.

Power from its standard V6 engine is ample and similar to what you'll find in most competitors, though it certainly won't blow you away. Really, it's in keeping with the rest of the Telluride's driving experience: largely forgettable but also vice-free.

What other Kia Telluride reviews can I read?