Kia Telluride vs. Jeep Grand Cherokee: What Matters To You?

Amongst SUVs/crossovers, the Kia Telluride gets a lot of love. It’s this year’s Motor Trend SUV of the Year, and an Automobile All-Star, after all. And it can even venture into the gravel for some light off-roading. However, if you’re looking for an upscale SUV with some off-roading capability, there’s also the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Which, for 2020, has a few extra features. Choosing between these two SUVs/crossovers, then, depends on your priorities.

2020 Kia Telluride vs. Jeep Grand Cherokee: pricing and specs

A dark-green 2020 Kia Telluride in the desert
2020 Kia Telluride | Kia

For 2020, the Kia Telluride is available in 4 trims: the $31,990 LX; the $34,390 S; the $37,390 EX; and the $42,190 SX. Each comes with an 8-speed automatic and a 3.8-liter V6, rated at 291 hp and 262 lb-ft. Front-wheel drive is standard, but AWD is an option on all 4 trims.

2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee driving down road
2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee | Jeep

The 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee has a few more trims available. The $34,000 Laredo E, the $37,080 Upland, the $38,490 Altitude, the $40,020 Limited, the $45,295 Limited X, the $46,940 Overland, the $49,685 High Altitude, and $53,090 Summit are all RWD, with 4WD as an option. 4WD is standard on the $38,895 North Edition, the $45,400 Trailhawk, the $69,140 SRT, and the $87,645 Trackhawk.

Almost as numerous as the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s trim selection are its powertrain options. Except for the SRT and Trackhawk, each trim has an 8-speed automatic and a 3.6-liter V6, rated at 295 hp and 260 lb-ft, Car and Driver reports. There used to be a diesel engine available. However, for 2020, the only engine upgrade is a 5.7-liter V8, rated at 360 hp and 390 lb-ft, Motor Trend reports. And you’ll need to start with at least the Overland to get it as an option.

The SRT and Trackhawk, though, have even more powerful engines. The former has a 6.4-liter V8, which produces 475 hp and 470 lb-ft. That’s enough to let it go 0-60 in 4.4 seconds, Car and Driver reports. But if you’re after maximum power, best go with the Trackhawk. It has the infamous Hellcat 6.2-liter supercharged V8, rated at 707 hp and 645 lb-ft. And despite weighing 5258 pounds, it can go 0-60 in 3.4 seconds, Car and Driver reports.

Notable features

The Kia Telluride and Jeep Grand Cherokee offer many of the same features at similar price points.

Car and Driver recommends the Telluride SX due to its great value. It comes with dual sunroofs, 2nd-row captain’s chairs, a Harman Kardon 10-speaker audio system, a 10.3” touchscreen, and LED headlights. That’s on top of Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a wireless charging pad, navigation, heated and ventilated front seats, and a power liftgate.

But even the base LX comes with a full ADAS suite, including blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, and automatic emergency braking. However, if you want adaptive cruise control, you’ll have to go with at least the Kia Telluride EX.

The rear view of a red 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited driving through a rainy forest
2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited rear | Jeep

To equip the Jeep Grand Cherokee to that level, you’ll have to start with either the Overland or the High Altitude. They do have a few more standard features than the Telluride SX, such as heated 2nd-row seats, a heated steering wheel, and rain-sensing wipers.

The 2020 Kia Telluride's grey cloth interior
2020 Kia Telluride interior | Kia

But, if you equip the SX with the Prestige Package, you still end up ahead in cost. And not only does it add rain-sensing wipers, but it also adds heated and ventilated 2nd-row seats, Nappa leather upholstery, and a heads-up display, Car and Driver reports.

However, unlike the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Telluride does not offer WiFi as an option. But in contrast, unlike the Kia, the Grand Cherokee’s ADAS suite is an optional extra. And even in higher trims, it has a smaller touchscreen.

Where does the Kia Telluride overtake the Jeep Grand Cherokee?

In addition to being better value-for-money where features are concerned, the Kia Telluride has the edge on space. The Jeep Grand Cherokee only has 2 rows of seats, whereas the Telluride has 3. The Kia also has more rear cargo room: in Car and Driver’s testing, the Grand Cherokee could carry 24 carry-ons, but the Kia could handle 35.

The Kia Telluride also out-ranks the Jeep Grand Cherokee in Consumer Reports’ reliability testing. The former got a 4/5 score, and the latter 3/5.

The black interior of a 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee
2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee interior | Jeep

Finally, there’s the issue of interior material quality. True, higher-priced trims like the Summit do have upscale materials, Motor Trend reports. But there’s still too much hard plastic for something that costs close to $60k, reports. In contrast, to quote MT on the Telluride, “Kia shames many luxury automakers offering vehicles costing twice as much.”

Does the Grand Cherokee have any advantages?

However, it’s not quite a clean sweep for the Kia. The Jeep Grand Cherokee has some pros to go with its cons.

Firstly, unlike the Telluride, the Grand Cherokee offers 4WD with a transfer case. Although the Telluride has a differential lock, it’s software-based, not an actual mechanical lock, Outside reports. Plus, if you go with the Trailhawk, you get air suspension, a limited-slip rear differential, skid plates, hill-descent, and hill-ascent control, and multiple tow hooks, MT reports.

In contrast, while the Kia Telluride can off-road, Road & Track reports, it’s really not up to the level of, say, a 4Runner TRD Pro. And the Trailhawk has more ground clearance, as well as better approach, break-over, and departure angles, Car and Driver and MT reports.

Also, in V6 form, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is more fuel-efficient than the Kia Telluride. In Car and Driver’s highway testing, the former saw 25 mpg, and the latter 24 mpg. True, the Kia can tow more than a V6 Grand Cherokee: 5000 pounds vs 3500 pounds. However, in V8 form, the Jeep can tow up to 7200 pounds.

Speaking of the V8, that’s another advantage the Jeep Grand Cherokee enjoys over the Kia Telluride. The Telluride has been criticized for its relative lack of power. But even without the Hellcat or 6.4-liter V8s, the Grand Cherokee is plenty powerful, MT reports.

Which is the one to get?

It’s worth point out that both of these crossovers will be getting some updates in the future. Rumors suggest Kia is developing an off-road trim for the Telluride. And although it’s been delayed, there is a redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee coming, Car and Driver reports.


The Kia Telluride SX Trim Is a Swanky Family Ride

But for right now, choosing between these two depends on what you’ll use them for. If you plan on doing heavier towing, some more extensive off-roading, or prefer the passing power, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is the better choice. But, in terms of value, interior quality, and space, the Kia Telluride as the advantage.

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