2021 Kia Telluride vs. Honda Pilot: Deciding Could Be Harder Than You Think

Newcomers like the Kia Telluride have easily stolen the show in the midsize SUV class. But even so, older picks like the Honda Pilot have fan clubs of their own. The 2021 Telluride and the 2021 Pilot have already started hitting the streets. As you do your research, you might see that deciding between the two could be harder than you might think.

What the 2021 Kia Telluride does well

2020 Kia Telluride driving down a dirt road
2020 Kia Telluride in action | Photo via Kia

Critics and consumers have fallen for the Kia Telluride because of its contemporary style and exceptional comfort. Since the Telluride was all-new for 2020, there aren’t many significant changes for the 2021 model. The biggest news here is that Kia added an optional Nightfall Edition package to the Telluride to look even cooler.

The Telluride is available in four different trim levels, each more luxurious than the next. No matter which one you go with, all Tellurides are powered by the same 291-hp, 3.8-liter V6 engine linked to an eight-speed automatic. 

2021 Telluride Nightfall Edition Black driving by an office building
2021 Telluride Nightfall Edition Black | Kia

Overall, the Telluride is a smooth, charming ride. Many reviewers say that the Telluride is predictable in a good way. The main downside to this Kia is that it’s below-average for fuel economy; it has an EPA rating of up to 23 mpg overall.

On the inside, the Telluride impresses. It can seat up to seven or eight, depending on the configuration you pick. It comes with faux leather upholstery, plus a long list of in-car technology. Standard infotainment features include an 8-inch touchscreen, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. Furthermore, all Tellurides come with an advanced safety suite, including blind-spot monitoring and driver drowsiness monitoring. 

What the 2021 Honda Pilot does well

A photo of the Honda Pilot SUV outdoors.
Honda Pilot | Honda

RELATED: The Most Reliable 2020 Mid-Size SUVs According to Consumer Reports

The Honda Pilot is a strong contender against models like the Telluride and Toyota Highlander, to name a few. You’ll also appreciate the Pilot for its polished ride quality and quick acceleration. The Pilot can seat up to eight people in its standard cloth interior. This Honda comes with a 280-hp 3.5-liter V6 connected to a nine-speed automatic. 

The 2020 Honda Pilot driving down the countryside.
2020 Honda Pilot | Honda

While the Pilot is pleasant to drive, there are two things you may not like about it performance-wise. Like the Telluride, it has an EPA rating of 23 mpg overall, which is meager. Additionally, critics like Consumer Reports say that the Pilot drives more like a boat than its sizable competitors.

Honda isn’t known for giving away niceties, and the Pilot is an example of that. On the bright side, the Pilot comes with advanced safety features, including forward-collision warning and road departure mitigation. Yet, the Pilot isn’t that impressive regarding infotainment. Standard infotainment features for the Pilot include Bluetooth connection and a 5-inch display. You have to upgrade for modern items like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. 

Deciding between the Telluride and Pilot 

A 2021 Telluride begins at $31,990, and the Pilot starts at $32,250. You may want the Telluride because it’s trendy and comes with more amenities. But with the Pilot, you get Honda’s substantial resale value and a strong reputation of quality. Ultimately, your decision comes down to trendiness vs. practicality.