See How The 2020 Kia Telluride Stacks Up To The Competition

We recently took a spin in the 2020 Kia Telluride and came away pretty impressed by the crossover’s combination of style, comfort and spaciousness.

The Telluride certainly has a lot going for it, but it’s far from the only family-friendly crossover on the market. In fact, Kia wants to challenge well established competitors such as the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander. Those are the segment heavyweights, so we decided to see how they all stack up.

Exterior Dimensions

Since all four crossovers are designed to accommodate seven to eight people, it’s not surprising to learn that they’re all pretty big. The 2020 Ford Explorer is the largest of the group as it measures 198.8 inches (504.9 cm) long and has a wheelbase of 119.1 inches (302.5 cm).

The Telluride and Pilot are pretty evenly matched in terms of exterior dimensions, but Kia’s crossover has a 3.2 inch (8.1 cm) longer wheelbase. The Highlander, on the other hand, is the little guy of the group as it trails the competition in all four categories.

Interior Dimensions

One of the most important things about family crossovers is interior space, as they’re designed to haul a lot of passengers and cargo. The results are all across the board.

Front seat passengers will probably like the Highlander the best, as it has the most legroom and the second most headroom. The Telluride has a bit less legroom, but a tad more headroom. The Explorer isn’t too far behind, while the Pilot is a distant fourth with just 40.9 inches (103.9 cm) of front seat legroom and 40.1 inches (101.9 cm) of headroom.

Moving to the second row, the Telluride is the clear winner, boasting 42.4 inches (107.7 cm) of legroom – or 3.4 inches (8.6 cm) more than the second-best in that area, the Explorer. The Pilot and Highlander both have 38.4 inches (97.5 cm) of legroom, but the Honda has more headroom.

Third row seats often feel like a prison sentence for adults, but that isn’t always the case. The Explorer excels here with 32.2 inches (81.8 cm) of rear seat legroom, while the Pilot and Telluride are neck-and-neck at 31.9 inches (81.0 cm) and 31.4 inches (79.8 cm), respectively. All three also have similar headroom with the Pilot and Explorer tied for having the most.

This brings us the Highlander, which has just 27.7 inches (70.4 cm) of third row legroom. That’s less than most economy airline seats and, to make matters worse, there’s just 35.9 inches (91.2 cm) of headroom.

Last, but not least, there’s the matter of cargo room. The Explorer barely edges out the Telluride with 87.8 cubic feet (2,486.2 liters) of space behind the front seats, while the Pilot and Highlander are pretty evenly matched at 83.9 cubic feet (2,375.8 liters) and 83.7 cubic feet (2,370.1 liters).

The Explorer is also the best with the third row folded down, as it boasts 47.9 cubic feet (1,356.4 liters) of boot space. With all seats up, though, the Telluride comes out on top as it has 2.8 cubic feet (79.3 liters) more than its nearest competitor.

Performance Specs

While three of the models have competitive standard engines, we have to exclude the Highlander’s anemic 2.7-liter four-cylinder which produces 185 hp (138 kW / 188 PS) and 184 lb-ft (249 Nm) of torque. The Explorer is still top dog thanks to its 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder which develops 300 hp (224 kW / 304 PS) and 310 lb-ft (420 Nm).

The Highlander’s optional 3.5-liter V6 takes second place, but it’s pretty evenly matched by the Telluride’s 3.8-liter V6 which churns out 291 hp (217 kW / 295 PS) and 262 lb-ft (355 Nm). The Pilot comes in last with 280 hp (209 kW / 284 PS) and 262 lb-ft (355 Nm).

Fuel economy numbers are pretty similar between the three crossovers with announced ratings, so it’ll be interesting to see what the Explorer is rated at. Regardless, the Blue Oval’s crossover is the only one of the group that can tow more than 5,000 lbs (2,268 kg).


Pricing is a bit complicated. All four offer varying degrees of equipment, but the Pilot is the most affordable, starting at $31,450, barely edging out the Telluride, which has a $31,690 starting price.

The 2020 Explorer is a bit more expensive as it starts at $32,765.  Since we had to exclude the entry-level Highlander, the V6 is the most expensive of the group as it starts at $33,580.

And The Winner Is…

That’s a hard question to answer on specifications alone, but the Explorer certainly has a number of wins on paper. Whether of not it’s a compelling proposition in the real world remains to be seen. The Telluride manages to be pretty competitive and seems to edge out the Pilot, and the Highlander is dead last. It’s the older of the bunch, though, and Toyota is working on an all-new model that will most likely be larger and much more competitive.

Long story short, there’s no shortage of crossovers on the market – and this comparison doesn’t even include rivals such as the Chevrolet Traverse, Hyundai Palisade or Volkswagen Atlas, among others. Consumers have plenty of options and can find a model that fits their needs, which goes to show that competition does improve the breed.

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  • ErnieB

    Already have seen the telluride on the road an it looks awesome! This would be my pick over the Toyota and the Honda— bland and blander.. tough choice between the Explorer and the telluride..

  • PhilMcGraw

    It’s funny how the Explorer is the biggest in exterior dimensions, even having a 5 inch longer wheelbase than the Telluride, but it comes up short in nearly every interior dimension except for like 3.

    The one dimension the article doesn’t touch on that should also be mentioned is the curb weight. The Explorer weighs between 4300 to 4700 lbs depending on the configuration. The Telluride weighs 4100 to 4300 lbs depending on configuration.

    • Rocket

      The Telluride vs Explorer comparison is essentially a wash in terms of interior space, which is pretty impressive considering the Explorer’s longitudinal/RWD drivetrain. As much as I like the Telluride, on paper the Explorer wins this one easily.

      • PhilMcGraw

        I don’t see how it wins on paper besides the powertrain offering and that it is RWD. The Telluride just about beats it in interior space which is pretty important. And it more importantly beats it on price. A top trim Explorer will fetch north of $50k and that horrible looking sideways tablet infotainment screen is just too much.

        If I were to spend $50k for an Explorer I might as well pony up for the Aviator.

        • Rocket

          You answered your own question … powertrain and RWD. As I said previously, to offer RWD without sacrificing interior space is an accomplishment on its own. Yes, you can spend more on the Explorer if you opt for the hybrid or twin turbo V6, but you don’t have to. How can you deny having the option to significantly upgrade what’s under hood is an advantage?

          • PhilMcGraw

            For the majority of consumers RWD and having 300hp instead of 291hp is not gong to be deal breakers. Especially since you can get the Telluride in AWD even if it’s FWD biased.

            What is a deal breaker is that horrific interior and spending $55k for comparable equipment. I’m sorry but you can’t honestly argue spending $10k for just RWD and a slightly better engine.

          • Rocket

            You seem to be completely disregarding Ford’s other engine options. You know … the two versions of the twin turbo V6 as well as the V6 hybrid. That’s a lot of choices.

          • PhilMcGraw

            No there is no choice. On a 2019 Explorer Platinum you are forced to get the twin turbo V6. Now you might say: well if you got the Limited you wouldn’t have to spend so much but you also would be getting a less luxurious interior. And even still a 2019 Explorer Limited with comparable equipment to a Telluride is $48k.

            If you’re spending $50k on an Explorer then something is wrong with you.

            And as far as engine choices is concerned, Kia will most likely be introducing a plug in hybrid variant making around 400 hp in the near future.

          • Rocket

            You have to take the TT V6 if you buy the Platinum. You do not have to buy the Platinum to get an extremely well equipped Explorer. Plus, we’re talking MSRP here, not average transaction prices.

      • bd0007

        Wouldn’t say easily since when priced comparatively, the Explorer costs more (and still don’t know the fuel economy for the Explorer).

        Basically what it comes down to is preference for design and whether one wants more performance (the RWD/longitudinal layout of the Explorer allows for more performance-oriented powertrains).

        Despite the Explorer having 2 inches on the Telluride, the Kia has more cargo space behind the 3rd row and from the looks of it, also has the nicer interior.

    • Paul Webster

      And still the Telluride cannot haul it’s own weight.

  • timii

    I think i’d Pick the explorer or the Durango. RWD + ST 400hp or RT 360hp/SRT 475hp. Doesn’t get any better. Plus best third rows for in case you need to use them.

    • Salih Ahzem

      Durango is almost a decade old, only thing keeping it still desirable is the usual Dodge “muscle” treatment as it’s the case with the Challenger/Charger.

    • MarketAndChurch

      It’s like a budget alternative to the new Ford Explorer.

  • Bash

    And the highlander is still top seller!!!

    • FactChecker90803

      Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the Explorer outsold the Toyota Highlander in 2018, ahh 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013.

      • PhilMcGraw

        You are both technically correct but also wrong with some context.

        Sales numbers for the Ford Explorer include sales for Police Interceptor vehicles and it’s regular Explorer sales.

        So, for example, Ford sold 250,000 Explorers in 2018. Out of that total number, 33,000 were Police Interceptor Explorers. This means in reality Ford sold 217,000 Explorers to actual consumers and fleets. By comparison, the Highlander sold 244,000 in 2018.

      • .. EL CHAPO THA GREAT ??

        -Ford fanboy

        The police interceptor doesn’t count. It’s a governmental vehicle, not a civilian.

  • FactChecker90803

    My son and his wife just got a 2019 Explorer Sport Edition, great family vehicle, 365 hp 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, 10-speed auto, AWD and plenty of room.

    • Rocket

      The 2019 Explorer only comes with a 6-speed auto.

      • FactChecker90803

        Yes, your correct it has a 6-Speed Select Shift Automatic.

        • Paul Webster

          6R80, a bulletproof tranny.

  • Rocket

    if only I could get the Telluride’s snazzy interior in the Explorer.

  • Maykel

    Telluride GT would be welcomed.

  • Kirkster

    I think it’s hard to draw any real-world conclusions from these sorts of spec comparisons, except maybe for headroom numbers. Some of things that are most important to some buyers, like handling, seat comfort, interior materials quality, infotainment system, safety features like 360 degree view in the backup camera system, lane assist, braking distance and more, need a more in-depth review. And probably some test drives. We’re cross-shopping the Telluride SX with the Volvo XC-90 T6 Momentum.

    • MarketAndChurch


  • Six_Tymes

    I thought the Telluride was a full size?

    • Salih Ahzem

      Think Ford Expedition, Chevy Tahoe etc. as full size, but still I get your point because one can think the 2-row crossovers like Ford Edge, Chevy Blazer, Honda Passport etc. as true midsize… IIRC, Kia will introduce an even larger CUV as they showed a concept a couple of weeks ago…

    • MarketAndChurch

      No. It has full-size styling, because Hyundai and Kia doesn’t have a full-size SUV, so it is meant to attract those buyers ( who typically drop 40-80k on their full-size SUV’s ) to the brand, while also giving growing families a budget alternative to the Tahoe/Expedition/Suburban/Sequoia. A large mid-size SUV, with full-size styling.

  • Fred

    You are spoiled for choice, which we can get proper 7/8 seters in Thailand.Explore will be fine.Thais will quickly point out it’s to big. In reality even a Ford Ranger is nearly 5.5 m long.Excuses excuses.Then offcause there is the idiotic import tax of 324%.In away i agree with the size problem, for Thais anything bigger than 125 Honda motorbike is too bick for them. But there are those of us that need and can drive bigger vehicles.Wonder if Ford will sell a righthand drive Explorer over here even if it is just for image building.

  • Salih Ahzem

    Explorer would be in a different league with its new RWD based platform, really wonder how it’ll stack up against the competition in the segment.

    • Bige Lee

      Because that’s high in priority in this segment.


    Sorry, but the EXPLODER is still UNRELIABLE

  • TB

    The true comparison that matters is really between the Pilot and Telluride. The Explorer is not up to the same quality and the Highlander, like most Toyota’s, are over prices & have a goofy dash layout. Just my opinion.

    • DHG2605

      I have had my 17 Explorer Sport for over 2 years now, one recall and regular service that’s it. And with the 3.5 EB it literally blows the competition away.

      • TB

        Yeah my 15 Pilot has one recall for an airbag sensor (Takata) & regular service/maintenance as well. Historically the majority of these SUV have been more reliable than the Explorer . I’m sure Ford has upped their game a bit but would still be a bit of a climb to get where the others are. Still I have no doubt you have a sweet Ride.

  • وليد عبدالله

    My opinion is the most beautiful Kia Telluride
    It sold during the month of March only 5080 cars

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