Face-Off: Kia Telluride vs. Toyota Highlander

On paper these two midsized three-row family haulers are similar, but on the road it’s a different story

2023 Kia Telluride and a Toyota Highlander Photos: Kia, Toyota

Since it arrived in North America in early 2001, the Toyota Highlander has been an incredibly popular SUV, both with Consumer Reports’ members and the general public.

It’s also been a strong performer in CR’s testing, ranking among the top-scoring models and capturing the midsized SUV Top Pick award an impressive 10 times since it was first eligible in 2002.

But in recent years, a number of competitors have caught up to—and surpassed—the Highlander, dethroning it from both the top of CR’s ratings charts and the coveted Top Pick status.

One of those is the Kia Telluride, a no-compromises three-row SUV that debuted for the 2020 model year with a V6 engine, front- or all-wheel drive, and seating for up to eight passengers.

That same year Toyota introduced a redesigned Highlander that also has a V6 engine, front- or all-wheel drive, and seating for eight. But Toyota also offers a four-cylinder hybrid version, something Kia can’t match. 

MORE ON Midsized SUVs

These two SUVs are similar in many ways, including size, weight, and cargo capacity, and both include a number of active safety systems as standard equipment.

But there are differences between them, too, especially since their road test and Overall Scores differ significantly. To unpack these differences, we take an in-depth look at these SUVs, compare how they fare in CR’s testing, and determine which one is the clear-cut winner in our metrics . . . and which one is right for you.

While both the Kia and Toyota will be freshened for 2023, with the Toyota receiving a more significant change with a new powertrain, this face-off still applies to the existing 2022 models and upcoming 2023 ones. We will retest the Highlander with the new engine when it goes on sale.

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