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When the Kia Telluride made its debut, it crushed the Ford Explorer. Now after a few years, the Explorer still can’t catch the 2021 Kia Telluride. But let’s see why the 2021 Ford Explorer is lagging so far behind. 

2021 Ford Explorer vs. 2021 Kia Telluride 

A black 2022 Kia Telluride parked outside.
2022 Telluride Nightfall Edition | Kia

According to Car and Driver, the 2021 Ford Explorer is trailing behind the 2021 Kia Telluride. They ranked every mid-size SUV from best to worst. A few interesting takeaways from their rankings are that the 2021 Toyota 4runner is in last place as the 23rd option, and the Dodge Durango came in 12th. 

But today, we’re focusing on the Ford Explorer, which landed in 9th place, and the Kia Telluride that holds onto its title in first place. The Explorer ranks higher than rivals because of its optional hybrid powertrain, standard power, third-row access. 

The Telluride was ranked in first place because it’s affordable, value-packed, cargo space, impressive tech, and convenience. 

Is the Explorer or Telluride better to drive? 

With the 2021 Ford Explorer, the 2.3-liter four-cylinder base engine generates 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. The 3.3-liter V6 hybrid provides 318 hp and 322 lb-ft of torque. 

Then the 3.0-liter V6 engine pumps out 365 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque, but the ST trim enhances these figures to 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about 5.3 seconds. 

The 2021 Kia Telluride comes with a 3.8-liter V6 engine with 291 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. It can reach 60 mph in about 7.5 seconds. When properly equipped, the Telluride can tow up to 5,000 lbs and the Explorer can tow up to 5,600 lbs. 

While the Explorer has a peppy acceleration and smooth grip around turns, the transmission can struggle in the city. The Telluride has an above-average acceleration with light steering and a bit of heft around curves. 

The Explorer has a pretty smooth ride but isn’t as smooth as rivals. Also, engine and wind noise enter the cabin at moderate speeds. Meanwhile, the Kia Telluride provides a sense of luxury quiet with a smooth ride. 

Surprisingly, the Explorer is more fuel-efficient with an EPA-estimated 27 mpg in the city and up to 28 mpg on the highway. The Telluride gets an EPA-estimated 20 mpg in the city and up to 26 mpg on the highway. 

Does the Telluride or Explorer have better features? 

A blue 2021 Ford Explorer SUV, the Electric EV version is delayed unitil 2024 because of the Mustang Mach-E demand.
2021 Ford Explorer | Ford

You can get started in a 2021 Kia Telluride for about $32,190. The 2021 Ford Explorer begins at about $32,925, making them evenly matched. The Telluride has noticeably higher quality materials in the interior and a more spacious third row. 

Both SUVs come with a standard 8-inch touchscreen. You can upgrade to a 10.3-inch unit in the Telluride and a 10.1-inch screen in the Explorer. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard with both models. 

Also, both come with standard forward-collision warning, automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assistance, and blind-spot monitoring. 

So while the 2021 Ford explorer is faster with more engine options, the 2021 Kia Telluride is a more comfortable daily driver. It offers more comfort and space for families but may not be as engaging or sporty as the Explorer. 


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