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Toyota Highlander vs. Kia Telluride: Pros, Cons & Differences

Toyota Higlander vs Kia Telluride

The Toyota Highlander and the Kia Telluride seem similar to one another since both deliver comfort and style. The Toyota Highlander is excellent on the highway. On the other hand, the Kia Telluride is known for its off-road capabilities. As we delve deeper, it becomes clear that each vehicle has its strengths and weaknesses. The question is, which one’s best for you?

When it’s time to buying an SUV, you expect to do a lot of research—and you should! There are so many options that it can be challenging to feel like you’ve narrowed down your list to the best choices. This calls for a helpful resource like this Toyota Highlander vs. Kia Telluride comparison. Read on to learn more about these two outstanding SUVs.

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Review Summary

The Toyota Highlander has a spacious interior and many standard safety features. It is also among the most fuel-efficient three-row SUVs in its class. So, if you want to save money on fuel, the Toyota Highlander is your best bet. It even has an above-average predicted reliability rating.

The Kia Telluride has a unique cabin. Its upscale materials and attractive styling make it feel more like an expensive luxury SUV than an affordable family hauler. There are over 20 cubic feet of luggage room behind the third-row seats, which is much more than you’ll find in some other three-row SUVs. The second row slides back and forth to help you maximize passenger or cargo space as needed. So, if you want an SUV for a large family, go for Kia Telluride.

At a Glance

Image Credit: Left – (Toyota Highlander ) BONDART PHOTOGRAPHY, Shutterstock | Right – (KIA Telluride) Mike Mareen, Shutterstock
Toyota Highlander is for people who prefer:
  • 5-liter engine
  • 295 horsepower at 6,600 rpm
  • 263 foot-pounds of torque
  • 8-speed automatic transmission
  • EPR rating of 21 mpg (city) and 29 mpg (highway)
  • 5-liter hybrid version and all-wheel drive
  • Maximum seating capacity of 8 passengers
  • 3 cubic feet of cargo volume
Kia Telluride is for people who prefer:
  • 8-liter V6 engine
  • 291 horsepower at 6,000 rpm
  • 262 foot-pounds of torque
  • 8-speed automatic transmission
  • EPR rating of 10 mpg (city) and 26 mpg (highway)
  • All-wheel drive
  • Maximum seating capacity of 8 passengers
  • 0 cubic feet of cargo volume

car and road divider

Overview of Toyota Highlander

Toyota Highlande
Image Credit: BONDART PHOTOGRAPHY, Shutterstock

Do you want an affordable SUV that’s packed with features? If yes, the Toyota Highlander is worth a long look. If you are ready to buy a new SUV, continue reading this review as we go over its key features.

Engine and Transmission

The Toyota Highlander has a V6 engine. It produces 295 horsepower and comes with a standard 6-speed transmission. It sends power to either the front wheels for front-wheel drive (FWD) or all four for all-wheel drive (AWD).

Two engines can power the SUV. Each is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Fuel Economy

The Toyota Highlander has an EPA rating of 21/29 (city/highway) with its base V6 engine. The hybrid model gets up to an EPA-estimated 34/30 miles per gallon, making it one of the most fuel-efficient SUVs. The fuel economy of your Toyota Highlander varies based on the model, year, trim, and engine size.

Interior Features

The Highlander can seat up to eight people, but you can also configure it to have as few as five seats if you don’t need as much room. The second-row seating can even slide forward or backward, which makes it easier for rear passengers to get to the back row. This SUV also has second-row bench seats or captain’s chairs. An available back seat DVD entertainment system will keep your passengers engaged on long road trips.

The interior has enough headroom and legroom, so everyone can stretch out on longer trips. Heated front seats will keep you warm while cold weather lingers.

The Entune audio system offers navigation and traffic updates. It even features Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free phone calls.

Cargo Space

Cargo space is one area where the Toyota Highlander shines. With all seats in place, you have 16.0 cubic feet of luggage room after the third row to work with. It’s more than enough to fit a few bags or suitcases. You can fold down the third row to open up 48.4 cubic feet of cargo space if you need more room.

You’ll get 84.3 cubic feet of total cargo space when you fold both rear rows. That is plenty of room for those big shopping trips or weekend getaways. Also, this SUV has a towing capacity of 3,500 to 5,000 pounds.

Driver Assistance and Safety Features

The Highlander has a full suite of optional active safety features. It offers buyers a level of confidence few competitors can match. It has blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

All versions come with standard driver assistance features. It includes automatic emergency brakes and forward-collision warnings with pedestrian detection.

  • Powerful engine
  • Its interior features are refined
  • Better-than-average handling
  • It gives you a comfortable ride
  • Excellent fuel economy
  • Clear outward visibility
  • Cramped third-row seating
  • Small cargo space
  • Moves like a heavy vehicle

car and road divider Overview of Kia Telluride

Kia Telluride
Image Credit: Steve Lagreca, Shutterstock

Kia has made a big splash in the SUV segment with the new Telluride. The Kia Telluride is an excellent SUV on the market. It’s gaining popularity and is beginning to compete with some great cars in its class.

Here are several outstanding features of this SUV:

Engine and Transmission

A V6 engine powers the Kia Telluride. It has 291 horsepower, and the engine is paired with an eight-speed transmission.

There’s an AWD option on the two lower trims. The AWD system delivers up to 50% of torque to the back wheels. It also uses a center differential to transfer torque from the front to the rear axle.

Fuel Economy

The Kia Telluride has a combined fuel economy rating of 23 mpg, which is about average for the class and relatively good for a vehicle of its size.

Interior Features

This SUV has a seating capacity of up to eight people. It has heated front seats, leather upholstery, and ventilated front seats. It also has heated second-row seats and a heated steering wheel with soft-touch surfaces and comfortable seating in all rows.

This SUV has two sets of LATCH car-seat connectors. Also, the middle seat has a top tether anchor. The middle anchors are user-friendly because they’re on rigid bases rather than straps. However, the tether anchors are set deep in the seatbacks and are somewhat challenging to access.

Cargo Space

The Telluride comes with several practical features to make life easier for owners of this spacious SUV. The second row slides forward and backward, allowing you to maximize space for people or luggage as needed. The second-row seats also fold down nearly flat, which makes it easier to load long items, such as snowboards, skis, or golf clubs.

When you fold the second and third-row seats, the Telluride has up to 87.0 cubic feet of luggage space. That means there’s plenty of room for your family’s luggage, camping gear, or other crucial items. This SUV’s towing capacity is 5,000 pounds.

Driver Assistance and Safety Features

The Kia Telluride offers the latest driver assistance technologies to keep you safe on the road. The Blind-Spot Collision Warning feature alerts you if another vehicle enters your blind spot. Lane Keeping Assist features also keep you centered in your lane. The Kia Telluride even has an Available Lane Following Assist that keeps you in your lane at highway speeds. It controls acceleration, braking, and steering inputs.

  • Spacious, high-quality cabin
  • Easy-to-use infotainment system
  • Large cargo space
  • Smooth interior finishes
  • Plenty of safety features
  • Only one powertrain available
  • Base trims are somewhat expensive

car and road divider How Do They Compare?

The Toyota Highlander and the Kia Telluride are two similar eight-passenger SUVs. Both boast generous cargo capacity, comfortable interiors, and state-of-the-art amenities and safety features.

Let’s look at several differences between these two SUVs.

Interior Features and Technology

Edge: Kia Telluride

The Toyota Highlander has a more upscale interior than the Kia Telluride. However, the Telluride has more advanced technology features. It is known for its luxurious interior and many standard tech features. So, it should come as no surprise that it beats the Toyota Highlander in this category.

The Kia Telluride comes with a standard 10.25-inch touchscreen display. On the other hand, the Toyota Highlander only comes with an 8-inch display.

Engine and Transmission

Edge: Toyota Highlander

The Toyota Highlander’s standard powertrain is a 295-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine. On the other hand, the Kia Telluride has a powerful 291 horsepower, 3.8-liter V6 engine. It’s paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission as well.

Both crossovers offer AWD as an option. It’s standard with the top two trims (Limited and Hybrid Limited) for the Toyota Highlander. Also, it’s available with every trim level, including base LX models in the Kia Telluride.

Fuel Efficiency

Edge: Toyota Highlander

The Toyota Highlander is the better choice over the Kia Telluride if your goal is a fuel-efficient crossover.

The Toyota Highlander has an EPA rating of 24 mpg combined and 21/29 mpg (city/highway). The Kia Telluride has an EPA rating of 21 mpg combined and 20/26 mpg in the city and on the highway.

Interior Dimensions

Edge: Kia Telluride

Convenience is a big part of vehicle shopping. Comparing interior dimensions can help you determine which of the two models will be more comfortable for you.

The Kia Telluride has more headroom than the Toyota Highlander for front and rear passengers. The Kia Telluride offers 40.9 inches of headroom, while the Toyota Highlander offers only 39.7 inches in the front row. The difference is less pronounced in the second row.

Also, the Toyota Highlander has 141.3 cubic feet of passenger volume. The Kia Telluride offers 178.1 cubic feet of passenger volume.


Edge: Kia Telluride

The cost of a Toyota Highlander starts from $35,205 and comes in five base trims. They include XLE, LE, Limited, Platinum, and TRD Off-Road.

The Telluride starts at $32,790 but comes in fewer trim options. These trims include LX, S, EX, and SX trim levels. The highest-priced versions of these vehicles are close in price.

A fully loaded Highlander tops out at $47,560, while the most expensive Telluride has a $42,690 sticker price.

Passenger and Cargo Space

Edge: Kia Telluride

When you’re buying a three-row SUV, your passengers are likely your priority. Both SUVs have room for seven or eight people, depending on the model.

The Kia Telluride has more passenger space than the Toyota Highlander in most rows. But, the difference is minimal. When it comes to cargo space, there’s still no contest here. The Telluride has a larger cargo space behind its third row compared to the Highlander. The Telluride is much better for hauling luggage or groceries on family trips.

What the Users Say

We’ve researched various sources about what users are saying about these two midsize SUVs. Here’s how the Telluride stacks up against the Highlander based on what consumers are saying about them.

The Toyota Highlander is a popular SUV with families because it’s reliable, comfortable, and practical. There is plenty of space in all three rows of seating for adults on short journeys. The ride quality is smooth over most surfaces.

Also, users like it due to its fuel efficiency. While owners appreciate that the Highlander has healthy cargo space, they wish it had more space behind the second-row seats.

On the other hand, users say that the Kia Telluride is an impressive SUV. It has plenty of space for passengers and their gear. Also, it costs less compared to Toyota Highlander. It’s an off-road SUV, but some users don’t prefer it because it’s not fuel-efficient.

car and road divider Conclusion

The Toyota Highlander and Kia Telluride are excellent SUVs. Both offer many benefits, but it is hard to know which one is better.

You’ll love how quiet Toyota Highlander can be once you start rolling down the highway. However, the Kia Telluride will amaze you with its tech features once you get in. This SUV performs much better than the Toyota Highlander. It’s the best off-road SUV that can haul large cargo and is more powerful. Regardless, it’s up to you to choose which one is right for your needs and lifestyle.

Featured Image credit: Left: Toyota Highlander (Image Credit: Kevauto, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0) | Right: Image Credit: Steve Lagreca, Shutterstock


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