The 2021 Kia Telluride Is the Best Three-Row SUV According to Consumer Reports But Is It Better than the Toyota Highlander?

Shopping for a three-row SUV? Chances are you’ve got the 2021 Kia Telluride on your list. And why wouldn’t you? After all, according to Consumer Reports, this year’s Telluride is the best three-row SUV you can buy these days. But does that make it better than the 2021 Toyota Highlander? Let’s find out.

Consumer Reports gave the 2021 Kia Telluride high marks

A green Kia Telluride at the 2019 North American International Auto Show
Kia Telluride | Sean Proctor/Bloomberg

There’s no beating around the bush here. Consumer Reports gave the 2021 Kia Telluride some pretty high marks. It gave this year’s model a 97 overall score, which is near perfect. It also gave this year’s model a 97 overall score in road tests, adding that its refined driving experience helped it rank near the top of all three-row SUVs on the market today.

The 2021 Kia Telluride excels when it comes to reliability and owner satisfaction too. Consumer Reports gave this year’s model a five out of five in both categories. Additionally, Consumer Reports’ data shows that 91% of Telluride owners would buy the three-row SUV again.

Consumer Reports isn’t the only outlet singing the Telluride’s praises either. J.D. Power gave this year’s Telluride a ‘Great’ quality and reliability rating. Meanwhile, RepairPal gave it an ‘Above Average’ reliability rating. And when it comes to safety? The IIHS tapped the Telluride as a Top Safety Pick.

RELATED: The 2021 Kia Telluride Is the Most Satisfying 3-Row SUV to the Surprise of No One

The 2021 Toyota Highlander didn’t lag far behind its Kia competition

Here’s the thing, the 2021 Kia Telluride isn’t the only three-row SUV to have earned high marks from Consumer Reports. In fact, Consumer Reports ranked the 2021 Toyota Highlander as the third best midsized SUV with three-rows. With an 84 overall score, this year’s Highlander didn’t lag all that far behind the Telluride either.

Compare ratings, and you’ll find that the Highlander earned an 86 overall score in road tests. Consumer Reports also gave it a four out of five predicted reliability and owner satisfaction rating. Additionally, according to Consumer Reports, 78% of Highlander owners would rebuy the three-row SUV. All in all, that’s pretty impressive.

Much like the 2021 Kia Telluride, J.D. Power gave this year’s new Toyota Highlander a ‘Great’ quality and reliability rating. As for RepairPal? It gave the Highlander an ‘Above Average’ reliability rating. 

The 2021 Toyota Highlander is a pretty safe three-row SUV too. In fact, as a Top Safety Pick+ this year’s model was able to land the IIHS’s highest safety rating. Unfortunately for the Kia Telluride, it wasn’t able to do the same because of a ‘Poor’ headlight rating.

RELATED: Consumer Reports Recommends Buying the 2021 Toyota Highlander This Year

These three-row SUVs fit the bill when it comes to features 

Now, ratings aren’t everything. It’s important to consider what types of features these three-row SUVs have to offer too. Fortunately, both come pretty well-stocked. Take, for example, the 2021 Toyota Highlander. This year’s model is available with a WiFi hotspot, a wireless charging pad, a digital rearview mirror, and dynamic navigation. It can also be had with premium leather seating and heated and ventilated front seats.

As for the 2021 Kia Telluride? It’s available with tech-savvy features like a head-up display, a wireless phone charging, and navigation. For a more premium three-row SUV, you might consider a Telluride with leather seating surfaces, heated and ventilated seats, and dual sunroofs.

RELATED: Midsized SUVs With the Roomiest and Most Comfortable Interiors According to Consumer Reports

Is the Kia Telluride better than the Toyota Highlander?

Here’s the thing, while the Kia Telluride did earn better ratings from Consumer Reports, this one really comes down to personal preference. That’s why, for three-row SUV shoppers, we recommend taking both of these options out for a test drive before making any final decisions.