2023 Kia Telluride Hands-On Preview: 5 Reasons Kia's Biggest Vehicle is Even Better

Evan Williams
by Evan Williams

The Kia Telluride, with its rugged looks, huge cabin, and surprising levels of luxury, was a huge hit for the automaker when it arrived in 2019.

This year, Kia is giving the three-row crossover an update that helps make it more capable and gives it more high-tech features as well as new off-road abilities. We got to check it out in-depth and up-close at the New York International Auto Show, and here are five things we think you’ll like to know about the 2023 Kia Telluride.

Get a Quote on a New Kia Telluride

X-Pro Off-Road

For 2023, Telluride gets two new X versions, each one marking the spot for a different group of buyers. X-Line is the one that’s for buyers who want to look rugged. It has a different grille, 20-inch wheels, body-colour door handles, and unique roof rails. It does get some capability upgrades in the form of an extra 10mm (about half an inch) of ground clearance, and it does have a tow mode to help trailering performance.

X-Pro is the one for buyers who want a more rugged vehicle. It has the same exterior trim changes but adds a 110-volt power outlet in the cargo area. It also increases max towing from 5,000 lbs to 5,500 lbs. The most useful feature for buyers who want to take their Telluride down rough roads, though, are the exclusive 18-inch wheels fitted with Continental Terrain Contact tires.

SEE ALSO: Hyundai Palisade vs Kia Telluride Comparison

The extra sidewall these tires offer should give you a much more compliant ride on dirt, gravel, or worse. The all-terrain tread design will also give you more grip when the surface isn’t paved, and are more resistant to punctures from rocks, branches, and other trail debris. It’s still not a rock crawler, but if you want to get down a logging road to a remote campsite or a twin-track path from the main road to the cottage, these tires and wheels should really help you out.

We also love the gorgeous quilting on the seats in the X-Pro. It might not make the crossover more capable, but just look at it!!

Bigger Screen

A 10.3-inch screen in an SUV this size? The horrors! Kia is dropping that tiny display (how quickly we become accustomed to screens that match a TV from four decades ago) for a 12.3-inch navigation screen. The larger monitor uses the same underlying interface, so rather than making it look better, this one only makes it easier to see. Since none of us are getting any younger, a bigger map and larger text are greatly appreciated by all.

Missing from the press release is the design that goes with the new screen. It’s now integrated into the same bezel as the dashboard, with the elegant new design curving around the driver. Kia has thinned down the dash vents to accommodate but kept the stylish wood trim. The small move makes the cabin look much more cohesive, and, importantly, much more premium than the price would suggest.

The new screen will be accompanied by a new display mirror. Like we’ve seen before from GM and more recently Toyota, the rear view mirror flips from a conventional view to one that’s taken from a camera mounted in the rear of the Telluride. It lets you see behind the vehicle without having to look through passengers, cargo, and the body of the Telluride itself.

Something Missing

Hyundai’s refreshed for 2023 Palisade added one of the best features we’ve seen on any three-row crossover: Heated third-row seats (for the US, at least). Is Kia going to do the same? Nope. The biggest cabin in the class will do without that one hot feature. We can’t get too upset, because Hyundai is the only three-row SUV to offer it, but, still, wouldn’t you rather have the option?

More Driver Assistance

Knowing that we all spend most of our time in the car on our phones, Kia is making the job of driving less stressful with some improved and new driver assist features. Intelligent speed limit assist recognizes speed signs along the road and can tell you how fast you should be going. It can also limit Telluride’s speed based on those signs.

Navigation-based Smart Cruise Control – Curve uses map data to know when you’re coming up on a bend in the road. It will slow the Telluride down if need be to help you make it around the corner.

SEE ALSO: 2021 Kia Telluride Review: Living Up to the Hype

Forward Collision Avoidance changes add steering input to avoid a head-on crash if you’re passing a car and provides steering assistance to help avoid a crash with a pedestrian, vehicle, or obstacle in your lane. The upgraded system also improves Highway Driving Assist, which can now help with lane changes as well as keep you centred in-lane.

The New Nose

The Telluride has a very solid look to its bodywork, and Kia ramped that up for 2023 with a new grille and headlights. It’s something every automaker is trying to do, make their crossovers (and everything else) look like it might take your lunch money by force. That unrestrained aggression, like an automotive version of an animated Disney villain, can seem overbearing and unnecessary in an age where stress levels are already high.

Telluride still looks capable and ready for anything, but the aggression isn’t there. Like a mustachioed Nick Offerman in a flannel button-up or Mackenzie Davis’s Grace in the latest Terminator film. You’re left with no doubt about its capability, but you’re also not watching your back to make sure it isn’t kicking puppies when you’re not looking.

We were already fans of the Kia Telluride, and for 2023 we think they’ve made a good package even better. Expect to see plenty of these showing up at soccer fields, school pickup zones, and grocery stores. Now we think you’ll see more of them at campgrounds and at trailheads thanks to the X-Pro package.

Become an AutoGuide insider. Get the latest from the automotive world first by subscribing to our newsletter here.

Evan Williams
Evan Williams

Evan moved from engineering to automotive journalism 10 years ago (it turns out cars are more interesting than fibreglass pipes), but has been following the auto industry for his entire life. Evan is an award-winning automotive writer and photographer and is the current President of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. You'll find him behind his keyboard, behind the wheel, or complaining that tiny sports cars are too small for his XXXL frame.

More by Evan Williams

Join the conversation
  • Jean Dussault Jean Dussault on May 19, 2022

    Trs beau j'aime les nouveaux phares et l'ensemble du vhicule

  • Duke Woolworth Duke Woolworth on May 21, 2022

    Sorry. We do not spend any time on our phones while driving. Our cars thus have no scratches or dents, and our drivers licenses are clear. We believe that piloting a couple tons of steel around the neighborhood takes our full attention with both hands on the wheel.