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Join the 2021 Toyota Highlander in a victory dance. It just scored an incredible victory against the 2021 Kia Telluride. While the Kia Telluride has been the top SUV for years, the Toyota Highlander just became the most popular option. 

The 2021 Toyota Highlander vs. the 2021 Kia Telluride 

Gray 2022 Toyota Highlander with tall buildings in the background
2022 Toyota Highlander | Toyota

You would think that the most highly rated SUV would be the most popular option, but that’s not the case this time. According to sales reports, the 2021 Toyota Highlander sold more units than the 2021 Kia Telluride. 

In the third quarter of 2021, the Highlander moved 63,184 units. This is a 5.99% increase compared to Q3 of 2020, when Highlander sold 59,615 models. The Kia Telluride sold 25,286 units, which is an increase of 19.05 percent compared to last year. 

So, the Highlander sold about 37,898 more models than the Telluride. That’s a massive number, but it doesn’t exactly mean that the Highlander is better. 

Auto manufacturers have been facing semiconductor chip shortages, equipment shortages, and delays due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The Toyota Highlander may have only sold more units because it had more models available. 

Is the Highlander better than the Telluride? 

Both the 2021 Toyota Highlander and 2021 Kia Telluride have unique strengths and weaknesses to consider. One advantage for the Telluride includes price. 

The MSRP for the Kia Telluride is $32,190, and the MSRP for the Toyota Highlander is $35,085. These prices are listed before the destination fees, and dealership markups have been added. 

With the Highlander, you get a standard 3.5-liter V6 engine with 295 hp and 263 lb-ft of torque. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid delivers 243 hp. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about 7.5 seconds

The Kia Telluride comes with a 3.8-liter V6 engine with 291 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. There isn’t a hybrid variant yet. The Telluride can reach 60 mph in 7.5 seconds as well. Both SUVs can be equipped with AWD and have a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 lbs. 

While the Highlander has a bit of a smoother ride, it feels like a larger SUV. The Telluride is a little more nimble. Also, the Highlander has a quieter interior, but the Telluride has less body roll around curves. 

Does the Telluride or Highlander have better features? 

A light gray 2022 Kia Telluride Nightfall Edition.
2022 Kia Telluride Nightfall | Kia

The 2021 Toyota Highlander offers 16 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats with up to 84.3 cubes total. Also, the rear seats are pretty cramped, with only enough room for kids. 

With the 2021 Kia Telluride, you get 21 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats with up to 87 cubes total. The third-row seats are large and spacious for adults. 

The Highlander comes with an 8.0-inch infotainment system that can be upgraded to a 12.3-inch display. A standard 8.0-inch unit comes with the Kia Telluride. You can upgrade to the 10.3-inch screen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come with both SUVs. 

Both SUVs feature blind-spot warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and lane-keeping assistance. But the Highlander comes with free complimentary maintenance for two years or 25,000 miles. 

The Toyota Highlander and Kia Telluride are fairly evenly matched. The Telluride has more space, but the Highlander is a bit more refined and offers a hybrid powertrain. We recommend testing them both.


2020 Toyota Highlander Drawbacks You Need to Consider