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A brand-new Kia Telluride recently crossed the stage in New York, showing us what’s coming for 2023. This new version of the popular SUV gives us a couple of new trims, new exterior appearance qualities, and added tech. We have to ask whether or not the new trims make this a real off-roader. Let’s find out.

Can you go off-roading in a 2023 Kia Telluride?

Front view of blue 2023 Kia Telluride, highlighting differences between 2022 Telluride
2023 Kia Telluride | Kia

Hidden in the reveal of information might be the secrets of limitations. The new version of the Telluride brings us the X-Line, and X-Pro trims to make us feel like this is a much more capable SUV than before. The added 500 pounds of towing for the X-Pro trim certainly adds to that quality, but is this an off-road SUV?

The new X-Line trim brings us:

  • 0.4-inch higher ride height
  • New Tow mode
  • Larger roof rails
  • Redesigned grille
  • 20-inch wheels

While the X-Pro trim adds:

  • 110-volt outlet in the cargo area
  • 18-inch wheels with all-terrain tires

Both trims sound like they add a lot to the mix, but we’re going to break this down.

How much ground clearance does this new Kia SUV offer?

Blue 2023 Kia Telluride playing in the dirt. Is this truly an off-road SUV?
2023 Kia Telluride | Kia

The 2022 version of the Telluride gives us 8.0 inches of ground clearance. The added 0.4 inches means we only go to 8.4 inches of clearance. Is that enough to handle obstacles on the trail or just enough to drive confidently during foul weather?

Autobytel gives us the crossovers with the best ground clearance numbers, and the new Kia Telluride doesn’t reach that level. While 8.4 inches might be better than before, the only SUV considered an off-roader with a lower number than the Telluride is the Honda Passport at 8.1 inches. Others that are true off-roading SUVs have:

  • Jeep Wrangler – 9.7 inches
  • Ford Bronco – 11.6 inches
  • Subaru Outback – 8.7 inches
  • Jeep Cherokee Trackhawk – 8.7 inches

Even the Mazda CX-9, which is pretty close in size and configuration to the Telluride, has 8.8 inches of ground clearance, and it’s not looked at as an off-road SUV.

Did Kia add the right equipment for time on the trails?

According to The Drive, the new X versions of the Kia Telluride have advanced traction control and hill-descent control. These two items, along with the all-terrain tires, do not give us the off-road capabilities needed for difficult trails. While these features can give us more control on the roads during foul weather, they don’t match the use of a disconnecting sway bar, skid plates, or solid axles found in the Jeep Wrangler.

Does the Kia Telluride have enough power?

Kia Telluride wheels for 2023
2023 Telluride | Kia

Every version of the Kia Telluride uses a 3.8-liter V6 engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. This powertrain makes 291 horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque. Compared to the venerable Pentastar engine of the Wrangler, the Kia offers more horsepower and torque. This should mean the Telluride has enough power for off-roading duties, but it is longer than the Wrangler and has three rows of seats, which can tax that power more than the Jeep SUV.

Should you take this Kia SUV out on the trails?

If you want to go off-roading in the new 2023 Kia Telluride, you’ll want to understand the trails you’ll ride on. The Telluride doesn’t have the added off-road equipment necessary to take on the difficult trails in Moab, Utah, but it could do fine on a well-beaten path through the woods. Yes, you can take this SUV out in the wilderness during some off-road adventures, just don’t expect it to perform like a Jeep Wrangler or Ford Bronco.


Which SUVs Have the Highest Ground Clearance in Their Class in 2023?