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Kia has long had a bonafide hit on its hand with the Telluride. The three-row SUV is spacious, stylish, and full of amenities in every trim. Not only is it a best-seller, but it’s been a hit with critics.

It’s won multiple Car of the Year and ‘Best of’ awards from numerous publications. So many, in fact, you may be sick of hearing about them. And if you are, you may be delighted to hear there’s one new award the 2023 Kia Telluride was a contender to win but didn’t.

A blue Kia Telluride parked indoor.
Kia Telluride | Getty Images

The award that got away for the 2023 Kia Telluride

Since it first debuted in 2019, the Telluride has repeatedly made ‘Car of the Year’ and ‘Best of’ lists in its segment. The SUV is renowned for excellent performance and handling, fit and finish, style, and features. The first Kia designed exclusively for the U.S. market, the Telluride has garnered awards and seen steadily increasing sales since it first hit dealership lots.

The 2023 Telluride saw a refresh that earned high praise from consumers and critics alike. The updated Telluride features new wheel, grille, bumper, and exterior light designs. There are also new exterior and interior color packages, along with new larger display screens for infotainment and instruments.

There are now two off-road trim levels, the X-Line and X-Pro, that offer off-road capabilities in line with the Subaru Wilderness and Honda TrailSport.

Despite these new offerings, the 2023 Kia Telluride did not top TrueCar’s 2023 “Best Kia Cars & SUVs” list. In fact, it didn’t even make the top five, earning the sixth spot out of thirteen entries.

TrueCar’s 2023 “Best Kia Cars & SUVs” list

TrueCar’s list does offer the Telluride stiff competition. After all, the 2023 Telluride is ranked against other Kias. And besides the Telluride, Kia has built many other best-selling vehicles and award winners in different categories.

The Kia Carnival, for example, is a well-regarded minivan known for its power, bold styling, and affordability. (It snagged the number three spot on TrueCar’s list).

The reviewers did offer considerable praise for this year’s Telluride. They noted its attractive modern interior design, accented by premium materials that feel more upscale than those of some luxury vehicles.

TrueCar’s review further praised the Telluride’s comfort. Even with the interior improvements, the new Telluride has not sacrificed the driver and rider comfort for which the brand has become known.

Reviewers also praised the value the Telluride offers. It’s not the least expensive car in the segment. But its base trim offers more standard features than more expensive rivals.

Moreover, there was relatively little criticism. TrueCar noted average fuel efficiency and a shortage of space for personal items. But in the case of the former, you won’t get great fuel efficiency out of any three-row SUV. And in the latter, it’s hard to get too mad about not having multiple small compartments in a vehicle the size of the Telluride.

All things considered, these criticisms are minor. And in any other year, the Telluride might have walked away with top honors. But the top three TrueCar Kia brands were each just a little bit better.

What Kia’s topped TrueCar’s list?

In addition to the Carnival, TrueCar ranked the Kia EV6 slightly higher than the Telluride. The number five spot went to the K5, a midsize sedan offering generous cargo space, solid performance, and attractive design elements.

TrueCar also lauded the EV6, its number four pick, for charging speed and agility, and its quite powerful GT variant. TrueCar noted that the EV6, a relatively new EV, was already a hit with consumers and, with up to 310 miles of range, is a pretty competitive entrant in the small EV crossover segment.

Despite the praise, TrueCar heaped on the EV6, Carnival, and Telluride, none of these cars made their top two. Instead, those honors went to the Sorento and Sportage.

The runner-up Sorento was also redesigned for 2023, with the company adding a new exterior, greater space, and hybrid options. And like the Telluride, the Sorento offers excellent fit and finish and a generous heap of tech features that come standard.

The new Sportage has seen similar improvements for 2023. But in addition to exterior and powertrain changes, the Sportage handles noticeably better than previous models. While none of the top five are head and shoulders above the Telluride, their fresh designs for 2023 were enough for TrueCar to give them the edge over Kia’s best-selling three-row SUV.


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