2022 Kia Telluride SX | Long-term ownership review #1
There isn’t a more in-demand car on the market right now than the Kia Telluride, and after the last six months, I can see why.
Six months ago, I wrote about our journey getting into a Telluride. It wasn’t easy. There are but few available on dealer lots, and finding one with the color and options you want is even more difficult. But, last October, we were blessed to find exactly the one we wanted, way out in Maryland. Thankfully, we only paid a very small markup. I didn’t want to pay any markup at all, but we needed a car right away, and given our luck at finding what we were looking for at such a fair price (relatively speaking), we didn’t hesitate in finalizing the purchase.
So, after six months, how has the Telluride fared as our primary family vehicle? Overall, very well. It’s an excellent value package and impressive at hauling family in comfort and style. But, the Telluride isn’t without its drawbacks.
Read on for the things I love and dislike most about our 2022 Kia Telluride SX.
Four things I love about our Kia Telluride
I admit, it was the styling that first drew us to the Telluride (along with Paul & Todd’s recommendation), and it’s still one of my favorite things about it. The design is clean, well-proportioned, and looks far more expensive than its price tag suggests. It's Range Rover-esque, and everyone notices it. We get compliments all the time and many people can’t believe it’s a Kia. I expect the styling of the 2022 Telluride will age gracefully for years to come, and I love it — especially in our Wolf Grey paint color with the Nightfall Package (sadly discontinued for the 2023 model year).
The interior is also very well designed. Everything about it feels naturally ergonomic and just makes sense. It looks nice, modern, and simple enough that it should age pretty well.
Overall, this is one gorgeously styled SUV.
We bought the Telluride to replace our Land Cruiser as our primary family vehicle, and to that end, it’s been wonderful. We have two kids, and the Telluride is the “just-right” size for small families that like to take road trips and cruise in comfort. We’ve taken the Telluride on several extended road trips and the kids have done well in it, with space for all of our gear inside. That said, if we had more than two kids, a rooftop carrier would probably be necessary (or a bigger car) ...
The Telluride is also excellent at transporting adults. We’ve had six full-grown adults in the Telluride and everyone was comfortable. The interior packaging is so good, it’s the stuff of wizardry. There's way more space inside than the exterior dimensions would suggest.
Six months and dozens of test drives later, I’m still convinced the Telluride, especially in its EX and SX trims, is one of the best car values on the market. I’ve driven many cars much more expensive than the Telluride that are supposedly more luxurious, but I have yet to feel persuaded to trade up. The Telluride packs a ton of features, luxury, and style, all for a very competitive price. Even at a fully-loaded $49k like ours, the Telluride still feels like a value. I mean, who else is offering features like second-row heated and cooled seats for less than $50k?
One of the Telluride’s most admirable qualities is its smoothness. Everything about it is just smooth and easy. It rides smoothly, steers smoothly — everything about it is smooth and easy. This makes for especially nice road trips, and, coming from a 23-year-old Land Cruiser, the Telluride positively floats in our eyes.
Three things I don’t like about our Kia Telluride
One thing we’ve been not just surprised by, but shocked by, is the Telluride’s fuel economy. It’s bad. Around town, we average around 14 mpg. That’s Land Cruiser, Ford Raptor fuel economy, and at least with those vehicles, you’re getting a lot of power. Here, you’re only making 291 horsepower which … doesn’t seem like it should be putting itself in the mid-teens for fuel economy. I can’t make sense of how horrible the city fuel economy is, but thankfully the rest of the car is so good, I’m willing to (mostly) overlook it.
However, on road trips, fuel economy is markedly improved. On our last trip to California, we averaged just over 25 mpg — not bad for a fully loaded SUV with four people in tow.
Another aspect of the Telluride that I just don’t love is the power. Call me spoiled, but the 291 horsepower, 262 pound-feet of torque 3.8-liter V6 just doesn’t cut it for me. It’s adequate, but not enjoyable, especially at 4,300 feet elevation. I’m always having to dig for power, and when it finally comes on, the transmission doesn’t know what to do with it. We live in a fairly hilly area of Utah, and the Telluride can be a bit of a chore as we trek around town.
It’s too bad Kia didn’t make the Stinger’s twin-turbo V6 that produces 368 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque available here, as it would certainly liven up the Telluride's lethargic personality. I would happily pay $3,000 - $4,000 more on the MSRP for an upgraded Stinger engine option.
After two 14-hour road trips, I can tell you that the front seats in the Telluride are not great. After just a few hours, my lower back was sore, no matter how much I adjusted the seat. The side bolsters are fine, but the lower cushion is especially unsupportive. If Kia could steal the Genesis GV70 seats and put them in here, that would do wonders, but as it stands, these are very much middle of the pack front seats.
Six-month ownership verdict
After six months, nearly 6,500 miles, two 1,900-mile road trips, and dozens of trips to Costco, carpooling, and soccer games, the Telluride has proven itself worthy of the hype and praise it has received. It’s not perfect, but the Kia Telluride is an astoundingly good value and a supremely stylish and luxurious place to spend time. I definitely recommend it as a family hauler. In fact, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a better family hauler for the price.
If only it had more power and better front seats.
About the author: Having owned everything from a DeLorean to an E46 BMW M3 and a Toyota Land Cruiser, Jason Bell is a lifelong car enthusiast who loves sharing his passions as a teacher, writer, speaker, and social media manager. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org for comments/questions, or just to say "hi."
The views and opinions expressed here are my own and may not align with the founders of Everyday Driver.