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The Kia Telluride has been wildly popular since its debut for the 2020 model year, and it has continued to be widely praised by both consumers and critics for its overall competency. However, one of its rivals, the Volkswagen Atlas, has been extensively updated for the 2024 model year. So, can the Telluride remain the dominant king of the midsize three-row SUV segment, or is the updated Atlas now primed to steal some of its market share?

2024 Volkswagen Atlas vs. Kia Telluride powertrains — The Atlas gets a new heart

One of the most notable changes to the 2024 Volkswagen Atlas can be found under the hood. Both the previously standard 235-hp and optional 276-hp V6 optional engine options have been cut from the lineup. The Atlas is now exclusively powered by a turbocharged, 2.0-liter inline-four engine cranking out 269 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. The turbo-four pairs with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard across most trims, with all-wheel drive available.

The 2024 Kia Telluride continues to be powered exclusively by a naturally aspirated 3.8-liter V6 developing 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, which is 22 more hp and 9 fewer lb-ft of twist versus the Volkswagen. Like the Atlas, power is transferred through an eight-speed automatic transmission. Most Telluride models come with front-wheel drive as standard, with all-wheel drive available, though some upper trims are AWD-exclusive.

Atlas vs. Telluride – Passenger and cargo space

Given their standing in the family-hauling midsize three-row SUV category, passenger and cargo space are vital considerations. The Telluride has the overall advantage in occupancy — it can haul up to eight passengers with a middle-row bench in select trims, while the Atlas maxes out at seven passengers. Both models are spacious for people and their stuff, though each has advantages.

The 2024 Kia Telluride is more accommodating overall for people, with 157 cubic feet of total passenger volume to the VW’s 154. The difference is most notable in the second and third rows. The Telluride offers 40.2 inches of second-row legroom to the Atlas’ 37.6 and a notable 4.4 more inches of third-row legroom.

The 2024 Volkswagen Atlas gets the edge in cargo hauling. The Telluride’s 21 cubic feet of storage space behind the rear row is slightly better than the 20.6 cubes offered by the Atlas, but the VW offers nearly 10 more cubic feet of cargo space with either the third or second row folded away. For instance, the Atlas offers 55.5 cubic feet behind the second row of seats, while the Telluride is limited to 46.

Does the Atlas or Telluride get better fuel economy?

Despite having a different number of cylinders and naturally aspirated versus turbocharged engines, fuel economy estimates are nearly even for the Atlas and Telluride.

Among front-wheel drive models, the EPA rates the VW Atlas for 23 combined mpg (20 city/27 highway), slightly better than the 22 combined mpg (20 city/26 highway) of the Kia Telluride. However, it’s a wash when the Atlas and Telluride are fitted with all-wheel drive. Both AWD SUVs are rated for 18 city mpg, 24 highway mpg, and 20 combined mpg.

The Telluride is fitted with an 18.8-gallon fuel tank, while the Atlas maxes out at 18.6 gallons, so each model should deliver very similar mileage before needing a stop for gas.

The 2024 Atlas vs. Telluride price and warranties

The 2024 Kia Telluride has the advantage, both in pricing and warranties, against the 2024 Volkswagen Atlas.

The Telluride starts at $35,990 MSRP, nearly $2,000 less than the base $37,725 MSRP the Atlas commands. The Telluride is available in a whopping 10 trims, maxing out at $52,185 MSRP for the fully loaded SXP X-Line model. The Atlas is offered in six trims, with the SEL-Premium R-Line trim topping the range at $52,455 MSRP, a few hundred dollars more than the top Telluride.

As is the case across Kia’s lineup, the Telluride’s warranties are unbeatable. All models come with a five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and 10-year/100,000-mile drivetrain warranty. The Atlas comes with a four-year/50,000-mile basic and drivetrain warranty, which is better than many other car brands on the market, but not Kia.

Pros and cons of the Kia Telluride and VW Atlas

The 2024 Kia Telluride has long been heralded for offering exceptional value for money with loads of standard features, like a 12.3-inch touchscreen, a suite of active driver aids, and an upmarket cabin.

The 2024 Volkswagen Atlas is vastly improved in the value department. Interior materials are of far better quality than the outgoing model and features like a heated steering wheel, 12-inch infotainment screen, and ventilated front seats are now standard kit.

The upper trims of both models have added creature comforts like quilted leather seats and other goodies for those willing to pay more.

Both the Telluride and Atlas have all-terrain focused models with standard all-wheel drive — the VW’s trims sport the Peak Edition label, with the Telluride wearing the X-Pro moniker. For those who need to tow, the Telluride can haul up to 5,550 pounds, while the Atlas is limited to 5,000. However, the Atlas delivers a smoother, more competent ride over road imperfections.

The VW Atlas’ exterior updates make it a far more handsome option than the outgoing model, and it could sway some buyers away from the Telluride’s butch appearance (though others will appreciate its rugged appearance).

Overall, the Telluride remains a standout in the midsize three-row SUV class. The 2024 Atlas is a significant leap forward for the model with an improved cabin, updated looks, and better standard equipment, and as such, it can now be considered a solid alternative to the Kia.  

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