The SUV segment has grown in popularity. Whether it’s full-size or midsize models, SUV demand is at an all-time high. The title of best midsize SUV with three rows of seating is hotly contested, with models from multiple manufacturers, including Kia and Subaru. Many publications agree the 2022 Kia Telluride is the best midsize SUV on the market. However, one argues the 2022 Subaru Ascent is better. Here’s how the three-row midsize SUVs from each automaker compare:
2022 Kia Telluride specs and features
The 2022 Kia Telluride comes in four trim levels: the LX, S, EX, and SX. They all come standard with a 3.8-liter V6 engine generating 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard on all four trims, and all-wheel drive is optional. As a three-row midsize SUV, the 2022 Kia Telluride has room for eight passengers.
The base LX trim includes plenty of perks inside the cabin. There’s a six-speaker audio system and a 10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. The simulated leather upholstery and dual-zone automatic climate control keep the passengers inside comfortable.
Driver aids featured in all 2022 Kia Telluride models include adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, and forward collision mitigation.
The S trim adds a sunroof, roof rails, heated front seats, a wireless phone charger, captain’s chairs in the second row, and upgrades the wheels to 20 inches.
The EX trim goes back to the second-row bench seat and 18-inch wheels but adds more features like ventilated front seats, leather seating, a hands-free liftgate, and sound-absorbing front door window glass. The EX Premium Package adds captain’s chairs in the second row and 20-inch wheels found in the S trim.
The SX – the top trim for the 2022 Kia Telluride – builds on the prior trims by adding dual sunroofs, a 10-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, a blind-spot view monitor, and a surround-view camera system. The SX Prestige Package adds premium leather upholstery, heated and ventilated second-row seats, customizable ambient interior lighting, and a 110-volt power outlet.
2022 Subaru Ascent specs and features
Five trim levels are available for the 2022 Subaru Ascent: the base, Premium, Onyx Edition, Limited, and Touring. All models are powered by a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is standard across all models, and there’s room for eight inside the cabin.
The base trim comes with 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, and a 2,000-pound towing capacity. Inside, the 6.5-inch infotainment touchscreen includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and is connected to a six-speaker sound system. Driver aids include adaptive cruise control and a lane-keeping system.
The Premium trim boosts the towing capacity to 5,000 pounds. Inside, there are heated front seats, and the touchscreen gets bumped up to 8 inches. Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert is added as well. If you opt for the seven-passenger setup, a power rear lift tailgate, rear automatic braking, and keyless entry with push-button start are standard. These are optional for the eight-passenger configuration.
The Onyx trim takes the seven-passenger Premium setup and adds 20-inch black alloy wheels, a black grille and exterior, and simulated leather upholstery.
The Limited trim expands on the Premium with more comforts inside. The steering wheel and second-row seats are both heated. There’s also perforated leather upholstery inside.
The Touring trim adds to the Limited with a 120-volt power outlet, ventilated front seats, a 14-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, a navigation system, a forward parking camera, and a panoramic sunroof.
Why most reviewers picked the 2022 Kia Telluride
Edmunds cites the upscale cabin and plenty of standard features as the reason why it tops the midsize three-row SUV rankings. Value is also a key component; reviewers note that “for the money, there are few more appealing ways to move seven or eight people.”
U.S. News tied it with the Hyundai Palisade and Jeep Grand Cherokee for the top spot. The spacious cabin, technology, and cargo capacity are the main draws for reviewers. Kelley Blue Book (KBB) reviewers say the 2022 Kia Telluride is “spacious, affordable, well-equipped, well-mannered and arguably looks good.”
J.D. Power ranked the 2022 Kia Telluride as the best upper midsize SUV, calling it an “SUV built by Americans for Americans.” Towing capacity, fuel efficiency, comfort, technology, and storage space all bring it to the top spot for J.D. Power.
Why MotorTrend picked the 2022 Ascent over the 2022 Telluride
MotorTrend’s rankings are different compared to the other reviewers. MotorTrend put the 2022 Subaru Ascent (9 out of 10) just ahead of the Telluride (8.6 out of 10) in its best three-row SUV rankings.
MotorTrend highlights the Ascent’s off-road capabilities. The Subaru made it through a course, including a boulder patch, ponds, and a steep hill. The spacious interior – though a tight squeeze for the third row – is another plus for the Ascent. Reviewers also cite the 2022 Subaru Ascent’s excellent safety scores; the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named the Ascent a top safety pick+. All but two categories received the best score possible.
It’s hard to go wrong with either the 2022 Kia Telluride or the 2022 Subaru Ascent. The Telluride is likely better overall for more drivers, but the Ascent’s off-road strengths and safety make it an excellent choice for those looking to take their midsize SUV to different terrains.