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The Toyota Highlander represents longevity, reliability, and impressive resale value. Still, this stalwart Toyota SUV must go up against the Kia Telluride, a relative newcomer to the 3-row SUV market. What does the 2023 Toyota Highlander offer that the 2023 Kia Telluride doesn’t bring to your drive? Let’s find out.

The 2023 Toyota Highlander has more trims than the 2023 Kia Telluride

2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Parked in Front of a House
2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid | Toyota

Although Kia offers seven trims for this midsize 3-row SUV, the Toyota Highlander could be the best 3-row SUV offered. The Highlander brings six trims for the traditional gas-fueled model and five trims for the hybrid version. The Kia Telluride doesn’t include a hybrid powertrain.

The most popular Toyota Highlander trim is the LE model, which starts at $40,155. Heading to the top of the lineup, the Platinum AWD trim starts at $52,360, which is a little lower than the Telluride SX X-Pro with the Prestige, which costs $54,350. To be completely fair, the starting price of the base Kia midsize SUV is lower than the Highlander.

Is the Toyota 3-row SUV more powerful and efficient than the Kia midsize SUV?

2023 Toyota Highlander Playing in the Snow - The Highlander is more efficient than the Kia Telluride
2023 Toyota Highlander | Toyota

The gas-powered Toyota Highlander uses a 2.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine attached to an 8-speed automatic transmission. This powertrain delivers 265 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. The hybrid model uses a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle 4-cylinder engine and two electric motors. This setup is good for 243 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque.

Fuel mileage for the regular Highlander is 25 mpg combined for FWD models and 24 mpg combined for AWD versions. The Highlander Hybrid is the fuel economy champ here, with 36 mpg combined for FWD models and 35 mpg combined for AWD versions.

The 2023 Kia Telluride only has one powertrain, which is a 3.8-liter V6 engine mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. This powertrain delivers 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque while offering a maximum of 23 mpg combined for FWD models and 21 mpg combined for AWD versions.

The Kia 3-row SUV has more horsepower but less torque and lower fuel economy figures than the Toyota midsize SUV.

The 2023 Toyota Highlander offers more safety equipment than the Kia Telluride

2023 Toyota Highlander Limited in Cypress Green Parked in Front of Some Tall Bushes
2023 Toyota Highlander Limited in Cypress Green | Toyota

The Kia Telluride comes with a comprehensive package of safety gear, but Toyota takes things further with the Highlander. The Highlander LE trim brings standard blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alerts to the mix. Move to the Limited and Platinum trims, and you will find front and rear parking assist with automatic braking. The 2023 Toyota Highlander’s adaptive cruise control is easy to use and handles the desired speed and distance well.

In addition to the equipment offered in the gas-only Highlander, the Hybrid model offers the benefits of the Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system. J.D. Power tells us this is a safety and control system that provides integrated controls of the anti-lock braking system, brake assist, electronic traction control, electronic stability control, hill start assist, and electric power steering system. In a nutshell, this system allows the Toyota 3-row SUV to remain stable on slippery road surfaces.

The 2023 Kia Telluride may be the newcomer to the three-row midsize SUV class, but the 2023 Toyota Highlander still has several advantages, making it one of the best 3-row SUVs offered. The Highlander has more trims, a lower top-end price, better fuel mileage, more safety equipment, and a hybrid powertrain.

Will these advantages put the Toyota Highlander at the top of your shopping list?


J.D. Power Gives the Kia Telluride an Advantage Over the Toyota Highlander