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When you think about Kia, distinctive cars like the sporty K5 and boxy Soul come to mind. The Telluride is a popular pick for families and was even known as the “Selluride” at one point. Surprisingly, Kia’s most popular model isn’t any of these vehicles.

It’s actually the Kia Sportage, an affordable compact SUV with plenty of nice tech aboard. Despite some nifty advanced driver safety systems, the Telluride still holds the title of Kia’s safest SUV. Given that knowledge, is there a reason why the Telluride isn’t topping the automaker’s sales charts?

The Kia Sportage keeps outselling the Telluride

As of May 2023, the Kia Sportage has sold nearly 58,000 units. It managed to sell over 12,000 units in the month of May alone, which is an increase of 24% compared to last year. Its total sales compared to 2022 are also up by 52%, so it’s clear that the Sportage is only getting more popular. 

In May 2023, Kia estimates that over 10,000 Kia Tellurides were sold. Approximately 45,750 units were sold from January to May, outperforming its 2022 sales by 21%. 

The Kia Telluride has better crash test scores

Despite its obvious consumer appeal, the Kia Sportage’s official safety assessments aren’t the best. It currently holds a Top Safety Pick status on the IIHS, meaning that it excelled in all of the main crash test regimens. It also received a Superior rating for the performance of its advanced safety features.

However, the Kia Sportage’s base headlights got the lowest possible score during road tests. Whether you’re rounding a curve or just driving in a straight line, there’s not enough illumination without the high beams. The optional LED projector headlights are slightly better, but still only received an average rating. 

In comparison, the Kia Telluride has standard LED projector headlights that provide great visibility from nearly any angle. It also excelled in every other crash test category, so it has a Top Safety Pick+ Award from the IIHS. It’s worth mentioning that the Telluride is the only vehicle in Kia’s 2023 lineup to earn that designation. 

Why do so many consumers prefer the Kia Sportage?


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The Kia Sportage is probably one of the automaker’s best sellers right now thanks to its competitive price. The Sportage LX starts at $26,290 and AWD is an extra $1,800. Its only powertrain option is a 187-hp four-cylinder paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. 

After its latest redesign, the Kia Sportage offers more second-row legroom and cargo space for its five passengers. The rear row has over 41 inches of legroom thanks to its reclining and sliding seats. Cargo capacity maxes out at 74 cubic feet.

Quite a few ADAS features are included on the Sportage LX, including rear parking sensors and forward-collision warning. The base Kia Telluride LX shares all the same features, along with adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitors. Being a midsize SUV, it has a slightly elevated base price of $35,890.

The Telluride’s powertrain consists of a 291-hp V6 paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. AWD is an optional upgrade that costs $2,000. It can seat up to seven or eight passengers depending on the configuration, and the second row has over 42 inches of legroom. Even the rear row is very accommodating for adults, featuring over 31 inches of legroom.

The Kia Telluride also has a cargo hold measuring 87 cubic feet, a standard 12.3-inch widescreen infotainment display, and synthetic leather seats. The higher trims also have some more safety features, including a widescreen rearview mirror. The Kia Sportage might have fewer enhanced driver’s aids, but it still manages to outsell its siblings.