Kia Telluride vs. Toyota 4Runner: Not Fair to Compare

The Kia Telluride and the Toyota 4Runner are each front-running choices when it comes to buying a new SUV. They both have AWD capability and a third row. However, these SUVs are so different it’s almost not fair to compare. Let’s look a the Kia Telluride vs. Toyota 4Runner family SUV.

It is certainly no apples to apples comparison. How do we begin to compare a Toyota SUV on a truck platform––that’s been around for decades––to a new unibody crossover SUV? Sure, it’s designed to look tough. But it has only been in production a few short years. The Toyota 4Runner is a good SUV. Yet, some do say it’s dated. The Kia Telluride, on the other hand, is a fresh look at what the family SUV can be.

The 2021 Kia Telluride features

2021 Kia Nightfall Edition parked in dirt
2021 Kia Nightfall Edition | Kia

“There’s no denying that it exceeds its mission of moving people and their stuff better than anything in its class. The 2021 Telluride simply provides unrivaled levels of luxury and remarkable utility”

Car and Driver

There are few things negative to say about the 2021 Kia Telluride. Though it already received accolades for the 2020 model year, the 2021 Telluride has even more to offer, according to Car and Driver. This includes the Nightfall appearance package. The 2021 Kia Telluride is priced from $33,160 – $43,360. The Telluride receives praise for offering a luxurious interior with a quiet lavish cabin and a cushy ride.

The Kia Telluride SX trim boasts a serene and upscale cabin complete with leather and high-tech––ideal for a family.
2020 Kia Telluride SX interior | Kia

Other updates for the 2021 Kia Telluride are some new paint colors on top trims (Black Copper and Sangria). It’s also worth noting that the Nightfall package is only available with AWD and on the top two trim levels. Additionally, there is a new “on” button for the remote start key fob. Finally, the EX trim sees new LED lights with the premium package. The 2020 Kia Telluride already has a lot to offer in the way of standard features, so not much is new for the 2021 model year.

The 2021 Toyota 4Runner

2021 Toyota 4Runner on display with new lunar paint color
2021 Toyota 4Runner | Toyota

“The 2021 Toyota 4Runner is one of the most rugged mid-size SUVs on the market, but also one of the oldest and least refined.”

Car and Driver

Car and Driver actually compares this family SUV with the Jeep Wrangler. Both of these SUVs are tough and off-road ready. They are in a class where “off-road chops take precedence over everyday refinement.” That said, Toyota did add a ton of driver assistance features as well as an updated infotainment system to help it keep up with modern competition like the Telluride. The 2021 Toyota 4Runner also comes with a high price of $37,515 – $51,645.

However, the 2021 Toyota 4Runner doesn’t compare with the Kia Telluride in terms of luxury. Not only does Car and Driver comment on the interior covered with plastic, but also the rough ride and lackluster road manners. Overall, this SUV is for the family that plans to hit a trail at least every once in a while. It did get a new Lunar Rock color and some new features, but it’s just not designed to provide luxury.

2020 Toyota 4Runner Limited interior front of this family SUV
2020 Toyota 4Runner Limited interior front | Toyota

Interestingly enough, the TRD Pro trim––arguably the most desirable trim if you plan to use this beast for its intended purpose––loses the third-row option. The 2021 Toyota 4Runner is on a truck platform, which is a huge difference between the two and one of the primary reasons they are so difficult to compare. The Toyota 4Runner is great for heading into the backcountry, but not necessarily a great city carpooler.

Kia Telluride vs. Toyota 4Runner: different SUVs for different families

The 2021 Kia Telluride features the same V6 engine paired eight-speed automatic transmission. This engine and its lack of power and fuel economy have been a minor complaint about the Telluride. Interestingly poor V6 fuel economy is also an ailment for the Toyota 4Runner. This is one of the only places these two SUVs truly compare and it’s a negative point. Other than that a Kia Telluride vs. Toyota 4Runner comparison barely makes sense.

On of today's popular family SUVs, the 2021 Kia Telluride Nightfall Edition from the back
2021 Kia Telluride Nightfall Edition | Kia

Overall, we have new vs. old, smooth and luxurious vs. rugged and off-road ready. The two are so different that it will take more than available AWD and a blacked-out appearance package to make them comparable. They are absolutely different SUVs that are essentially not worth comparing. When all is said and done, you’ll know whether you are a family who wants a Kia Telluride or the type that should buy a Toyota 4Runner.


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