The 2024 Kia Telluride Still Knows How To Be Great

By 8 Min Read

It seems every last company would rather disrupt an industry than simply build something good. But in 2019, Kia did both. With the Telluride, Kia found a novel pocket in the luxury SUV market and left every other mainstream automaker catching up. 

In short, the OG Telluride asked buyers a question: What do you actually want from a luxury SUV? Is it some flinty, half-assed crossover with the right badge? How about a capacious and handsome chariot with surpassing comfort and peerless road manners instead?

Quick Specs 2024 Kia Telluride SX Prestige X-Pro AWD
Engine Naturally Aspirated 3.8-Liter V-6
Output 291 Horsepower / 262 Pound-Feet
0-60 MPH 6.7 Seconds
Base Price $54,750
As-Tested Price $55,540

Those waitlists thinned, and last year, Kia refreshed the Telluride to gin up interest. The redesign included tweaked sheet metal outside, a new digital instrument panel inside, and a couple more-rugged-looking trims, including this one, the X-Pro. 

Those letters are some gobbledygook, an alphanumeric amalgam to conjure Toyota’s TRD Pro and Nissan’s Pro4X branding. We get it, Kia: This is the off-road one. 

I’d say it’s about time.


During a 3,000-mile road trip with the last Telluride I had on loan, I got the SUV stuck in a hole. I’d strayed into a remote-backroad rut and wedged the Telluride up to its belly in freezing muddy slop.

The Kia’s locking central diff did nothing but produce one-tire fires at each end of the truck, and those tires’ street-oriented treads packed with muck. No way out. The setting sun forced me to hitchhike back to Fargo on dirt roads, ultimately leaving my wife stranded at night, alone, in the wilderness. 

No bueno. 

When the off-road tow rig arrived the next morning, the Telluride had nowhere in the front or rear bumper to receive a tow hook, so the tow operator drug the Kia out sideways by a wheel, but not before I’d looped a tow strap around the Telluride’s a pillars in stupid desperation. 

Would X-Pro have saved me?


Pros: Unrivaled Quietude, Easy Road Manners, Handsome Exterior

Certainly not. I stuck the truck in mud, but the old Telluride offered no escape hatches either, only the infuriating frequency of spinning tires, a soundtrack to accompany my misery. To step seriously into the off-roader realm, an X-Pro Telluride should offer a locking diff at the rear, a transfer case with low range, another inch of ground clearance, and the most-aggro off-road tires. 

This Telluride has none of those goodies.

At least Kia leaned into the image its badge conjures. A bit. X-Pro offers increased towing capacity (up to 5,500 pounds, a mere ten-percent increase from other AWD Tellurides), a smidge more ground clearance (0.4 inches), and a set of knobby Continental Traction Plus tires. Plus there’s a set of black 18-inch wheels and some other black accents that make the Telluride look the part of butch off-roader, even if it’s better suited to KOAs than honest-to-goodness wheeling.

21040_2024_Telluride (1)

As with Tellurides across the trim range, there’s one engine option. The lone 24-valve 3.8-liter V-6 produces 291 horses and 262 pound-feet. It pairs to a conventional eight-speed automatic. All-wheel drive comes baked into the SX Prestige X-Pro trim at $55,385, but cheaper Tellurides are still available with both all-wheel- and front-wheel-drive

Thankfully, the Telluride’s core virtues remain. Those knobby Continentals don’t damage this Kia’s stellar civility. The Telluride leads the pack in suppressing road noise, with seemingly more sound deadening and thicker glass than its luxury-striving competitors from Japanese brands. This cabin is a quiet, calming place to spend time. For me, that’s luxury. 

The engine and transmission feel aligned with the Telluride’s core mission, to provide a civilized experience for pilot and passengers. It’s a smooth powertrain all around; the transmission acts like it’s rubbing a pad of warm butter between gear changes. Fewer than 300 horsepower and 275 pound-feet won’t leap off a spreadsheet, but the Telluride makes the most of what its engine can provide.


Kia’s engineers calibrated the engine’s throttle mapping to provide a nice little jump from a stop with those first inches of pedal travel, allowing the Telluride to sprint from a stop light without giving the impression you’re flogging the ‘six. Car and Driver reported a 6.8-second sprint to 60 mph, which won’t challenge established German luxo-utes, but is plenty quick for interstate on-ramps.

Once you’re up to speed at 80 mph, the engine transmits negligible noise and vibration into the cabin. 

On a 200-mile road trip with the X-Pro, covering interstate, local highways, and even rural backroads, the Telluride’s rear hold swallowed a whole 56-cm road bike, a stroller, a full crib, suitcases for two adults, and the assorted sundries of a weekend away with an infant. There was even a huge chunk of usable space left over and none of the packed cargo blocked my view out the rearview mirror. 

Later that weekend, third-row occupants found the space acceptable for an hour round-trip jaunt. 

And downsides?


Cons: Seat Comfort, Off-Road Credentials, X-Pro Pricing

The Telluride’s front seats don’t feel quite as supple or supportive as I remember; I arrived home with sore haunches after about four hours in heavy traffic; On my previous 3,000-mile trip, my bum arrived in joyous comfort after four full days of driving. Your posterior joy may vary, but spend some real time in the seats before you buy. 

Thankfully, the revised Telluride does have removable covers in the bumper and a tow hook that’s easily accessible in the trunk, whether you spring for X-Pro or not. And maybe you shouldn’t, unless you want to sink some money into black wheels and cladding, without meaningfully increasing the SUV’s capabilities. 

For everyone else, the baseline Telluride SX and its AWD system will provide enough capability, and represent a huge cost savings against the X-Pro trim. If you live in the sticks or frequent a ski hill, swap winter tires onto your Telluride SX or pick a competitor’s rig with more options for lugging yourself out of a snow bank. 

All that said, the Telluride is still the benchmark for midsize, affordable-but-not-cheap luxury. Mazda has closed the gap with its CX-70 and -90, but the Kia offers a quieter cabin, better amenities, laid-back road manners, and greater overall value. 

Most other mainstream Japanese automakers are still playing catch-up in this segment Kia pioneered, and that’s the reward for disrupting a market, well and truly. 

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