2021 Kia Telluride vs. Hyundai Palisade Is Still a Tough Decision

When it comes to 3-row SUVs, the Kia Telluride is hard to top. But while it out-ranked the Land Rover Defender, the Telluride has a harder time shaking the Hyundai Palisade. Which makes sense, given how closely the two are related. And as YouTube team Throttle House recently discovered, picking between them hasn’t gotten any easier.

Under the skin, the 2021 Kia Telluride SX Nightfall and 2021 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy are very similar

A black 2021 Kia Telluride Nightfall Edition driving down a city road
2021 Kia Telluride Nightfall Edition | Kia

Both the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade get some new trims for the 2021 model year. The Telluride gets the blacked-out Nightfall Edition package on the higher-end SX and EX models, Car and Driver reports. And the Palisade has a new range-topping trim, the Calligraphy. But once you get past their looks and features, these 3-row SUVs are basically identical.

The 2021 Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade have the same platform, the same suspension and braking hardware, and even the same powertrain. Both SUVs have a 3.8-liter V6 rated at 291 hp and 262 lb-ft linked to an 8-speed automatic. And both the Telluride’s and Palisade’s base trims offer standard front-wheel drive and optional AWD. In the case of the Kia Telluride Nightfall and Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy, though, AWD is standard. But there is a FWD version of the latter coming soon, Motor1 reports.

A black 2021 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy by a sunset lagoon
2021 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy | Hyundai

Interestingly, while the Kia Telluride sells faster, the Hyundai Palisade is faster on the street. Car and Driver found the Palisade goes 0-60 mph in 6.8 seconds, while the Telluride needs 7 seconds. But from a rolling start, the 3-row Kia is actually slightly faster. Makes sense, given their identical powertrains.

But what about options and features? Here again, the 2021 Kia Telluride SX Nightfall and Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy are fairly similar, Car and Driver reports. Both SUVs have leather upholstery, wireless charging pads, 10.3” center touchscreens, Harman/Kardon audio systems, navigation, heads-up displays, and heated and ventilated 1st– and 2nd-row seats.

The dashboard and black-leather-upholstered front seats of the 2021 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy
2021 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy interior | Hyundai

Admittedly, some of those features require adding the SX Prestige Package to the Telluride. But both the Kia and Hyundai come standard with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a full ADAS suite.

Do they differentiate themselves on the road?

On the road, the 2021 Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade further highlight their family ties. But it’s also where the two SUVs start to separate slightly.

Both 3-row SUVs have stable handling, quiet interiors, and very smooth-shifting transmissions. There’s also plenty of room, even for 3rd-row passengers. However, the Hyundai Palisade rides slightly better and turns in slightly sharper, MotorTrend reports.

But the Kia Telluride has a slightly shorter stopping distance and a bit more cargo room. Plus, compared to the Palisade, its seating position is slightly lower. So, while it isn’t necessarily sportier, it feels that way.

The dashboard and white-leather-upholstered front seats of the 2021 Kia Telluride
2021 Kia Telluride interior | Kia

When it comes to their interiors, the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade both deliver in terms of material quality and ergonomics. The Palisade, though, has a fully-digital gauge cluster, while the Telluride merely has a digital display. And in Calligraphy trim, the Hyundai has quilted-leather door panels, Car and Driver reports.

Also, while the Telluride has an actual shifter, the Palisade has a push-button selector. It’s admittedly a more awkward setup, Car and Driver reports. However, it means the Hyundai has more center-console storage. Plus, it has two more speakers, a power-folding 3rd-row, and a slightly more premium-feeling interior.

Choosing between the 2021 Kia Telluride SX Nightfall and 2021 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy comes down to subtleties

The 2021 Kia Telluride SX Nightfall and 2021 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy are also very close in pricing. With the SX Prestige Package and AWD, the Kia starts at $47,985. The Hyundai, in comparison, starts at $47,750.


Is the 2021 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy Truly Worth the Extra Cash?

Given their similarities, picking between them is largely a matter of personal taste. Do you prefer the Telluride’s looks, or do you want the cleaner-looking interior and slight equipment upgrades of the Palisade? It’s your (tough) call to make.

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