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Is there anything like a good three-row SUV? This capable segment of vehicles is filled with excellent options. Possibly none more prominent than the ultra-popular Kia Telluride. As a result, some buyers are interested in finding a good alternative. One possibility is the 2023 Mazda CX-9. Does it get the job done well enough to call itself a good Kia Telluride alternative? Let’s take a look at the advantages each midsize SUV has over the other.

A 2022 Telluride SUV driving in the sun
2022 Kia Telluride | Kia

According to Kelley Blue Book, the 2023 Kia Telluride is “one of the hottest vehicles in America.” On average, car dealers used to keep a six-week supply of vehicles to sell. During the 2023 model year so far, they’re struggling to hold onto Tellurides for more than two weeks. It has a spacious interior with room for passengers and cargo, a potent V6 engine, and a surprisingly large number of features for the price. Speaking of price, it starts under $36,000, making it one of the most affordable ways to get three rows and many excellent SUV features.

How does the Telluride beat the 2023 Mazda CX-9?

A white 2023 Mazda CX-9 midsize SUV is parked, is it a good alternative to the Telluride?
The 2023 Mazda CX-9 | Mazda

KBB says the 2023 Kia Telluride beats the 2023 Mazda CX-9 in a few ways. First, it has so much more SUV for the money. This is an advantage the Telluride has over nearly every other midsize three-row SUV. Although it carries a lower price than the CX-9, it has just as much, or more, equipment. For example, the base model LX has a massive 12.3-inch instrument display, a 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen, and one-touch sliding/folding rear seats.

Next, another area the Kia SUV wins is off-road-readiness. All new for 2023 is the X-Line and X-Pro off-road models. The former gets added ground clearance and traction control, while the latter additionally gains 500 pounds of towing capacity and all-terrain tires. An off-road model is on the way for the CX-9 in 2024, but until then, the Telluride has the advantage.

Finally, the Telluride beats its opponent in cargo space. KBB says the CX-9 provides owners with 71.2 cubic feet of storage room with the rear seats folded down. Under the same circumstances, the Telluride offers a whopping 87 cubic feet. In the same vein, the Telluride can seat eight to the Mazda model’s seven, meaning it’s more spacious in every aspect.

Advantages of the 2023 Mazda CX-9

There are a few reasons the 2023 Mazda CX-9 is a good Kia Telluride alternative. With these advantages, it’s easy to see why someone would choose the Mazda model over the Kia. First, KBB says the overall exterior design of the CX-9 is far superior to most other three-row SUVs. Many automakers have established a boxy, squared, rugged look. However, Mazda gave its offering a sporty, curvy, beautifully colored look that stands out amongst its peers.

Next, the Mazda midsize model has the best handling in its class. KBB had this to say about it: “The CX-9 feels so much more fun to drive than it has any right to at this size. Mazda engineers are chassis wizards. Our test driver said the CX-9 “doesn’t drive like a 3-row SUV. Rather, it has the nimbleness and finesse of something smaller, and maybe even something that isn’t even an SUV.”

Finally, the interior cabin of the CX-9 is borderline-luxurious. We wouldn’t be surprised to learn the automaker stole some ideas from real luxury SUV models. The interior is high-quality, has soft-touch surfaces galore, and adds sleek leather upholstery in higher trims.

Is the CX-9 a good 2023 Kia Telluride alternative?

In conclusion, the 2023 Mazda CX-9 is an excellent 2023 Kia Telluride alternative. Although the two excel in opposite areas, that’s why it’s a great replacement. Mazda’s offering is more stylish, has incredible ride quality and handling, and the interior rivals luxury SUVs. However, the Telluride beat it in a few ways. For example, standard features, off-road capability, and cargo space. These three categories are areas the Telluride almost always wins, making it such a popular model.


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