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Ding, ding, ding! We have a battle between two excellent three-row SUV options for you today. The 2021 Honda Pilot is an underdog that’s taking on the 2021 Kia Telluride. Does the Honda Pilot have what it takes to take on the champion? (Insert cheering crowd noises). 

The 2021 Honda Pilot vs. the Kia Telluride: Which SUV is better? 

The 2021 Honda Pilot driving down a curvy road
2021 Honda Pilot | Honda

According to the U.S.News, the 2021 Honda Pilot and 2021 Kia Telluride are currently tied in second place on their list of the 13 best three-row SUVs for 2021. But a tie isn’t going to cut it! One option has to be better than the other, right? 

The winner may have to be determined after we take a closer look at both SUVs. Also, for the record, the 2021 Kia Sorento is currently in first place. But we will stick with the Pilot and Telluride for now. 

You can get started in the Honda Pilot for about $32,550. The Kia Telluride begins at about $32,190. So, these options are competitively priced. They both get an EPA-estimated 20 mpg in the city, but the Pilot gets up to 27 mpg on the highway compared to 26 mpg for the Telluride. 

How do the Honda Pilot and Kia Telluride perform? 

The 2021 Honda Pilot has a 3.5-liter V6 engine that provides 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. With standard 2WD drive, the Pilot can tow up to 3,500 lbs, and with AWD, it can tow up to 5,000 lbs. 

The 2021 Kia Telluride has a 3.8-liter V6 engine with 291 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. When properly equipped, it can also tow up to 5,000 lbs. So both SUVs are well equipped to haul smaller campers and trailers. 

According to Edmunds, the Honda Pilot can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about seven seconds, which is a little faster than average for its class. It has confident braking, precise steering, and a nimble feel. Impacts in the road are easily dampened for a smooth ride, and the cabin is pretty quiet. 

Edmunds noted that the Kia Telluride accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in about 7.5 seconds and has smooth brakes. The steering can be light, but the Telluride feels stable around curves. The cabin provides a sense of luxury by being incredibly quiet, and the ride is mostly smooth over rough pavement. 

How are the Kia Telluride and Honda Pilot features?  

The 2021 Kia Telluride offers up to 21 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats with up to 87 cubic feet total. The 2021 Honda Pilot provides 82.1 cubic feet behind the third-row seats with up to 83.9 cubic feet of cargo space total. 

Both SUVs have spacious interiors with a practical layout. But it’s easier to access the third row in the Telluride as it’s a slightly bigger option. Edmunds also noted that both options have deep storage bins and an underfloor compartment, but the Pilot has more areas for storing smaller items. 

2021 Kia Telluride driving
2021 Kia Telluride | Kia

The Honda Pilot has a 5-inch display, but you can upgrade to an 8-inch touchscreen. The Kia Telluride has an 8-inch touchscreen that can be upgraded to a 10.3-inch system. Both SUVs come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Telluride also offers a head-up display and rear-seat intercom. 

Both options earned a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). But the Telluride was named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS).

Deciding between these two options may come down to test drives. You may enjoy the agile Pilot over the large Telluride unless you need a little more space.