With its recent Motor Trend SUV of the Year win, the Kia Telluride has demonstrated the Korean automaker’s ability to combine style and substance in one capable package. The 3-row SUV hasn’t just proved popular with critics, either. However, the Telluride has its own internal competition: the Hyundai Palisade. The Palisade is a luxury bargain that also placed high in MT’s SOTY tests, and scored above the Ford Explorer in Consumer Reports’ testing. With Hyundai and Kia part of the same company, should buyers choose the Palisade or the Telluride?
What the Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride have in common
Under the skin, as Car and Driver describes, the Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride are practically identical. The SUVs ride on the same platform and use the same 291-hp V6 and 8-speed automatic. Brakes, suspension, even all-wheel drive systems: all shared. The Kia Telluride has the same tow rating as the Palisade: 5000 lbs. Car and Driver even found the two 3-row SUVs weigh within 3 lbs of each other.
Motor Trend found the two to have almost identical 60-0 braking distances. 0-60 sprints also time out roughly the same: 7.1 seconds for the Palisade, 7.2 for the Kia Telluride. Both SUVs also offer similar options. In addition to AWD, customers can equip self-leveling suspension, Harman Kardon audio, heated and ventilated second-row captain’s chairs, and even a special ‘quiet mode’ for rear-seat passengers.
The two SUVs are also priced fairly close to one another. The Kia Telluride LX starts at $31,690; the Hyundai Palisade SE’s MSRP is $31,550. And while each SUV’s trim levels differ on standard features, by the time you option the Kia to match the Hyundai, the price difference is negligible.
What makes the Hyundai Palisade different from the Kia Telluride?
However, the two SUVs do have their differences.
For one, the Palisade is an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, while the Kia Telluride is ‘only’ a Top Safety Pick. Which is slightly odd, considering MT reported the Telluride offers more standard safety features. Blind-spot monitoring, for instance, is standard on every Telluride, but only the mid-level Palisade SEL and above get it. However, the Palisade does get the bigger infotainment touchscreen: 12.3” to the Telluride’s 7.0”.
Car and Driver did find the Palisade to offer a slightly smoother ride, but it’s almost as negligible as the price difference. Although, the Kia Telluride’s interior was quieter. However, the testing team did find the Telluride’s transmission to shift more roughly than the Palisade’s. MT did not experience this but agreed with Car and Driver that the Palisade had slightly less body roll and slightly sharper handling.
However, the Telluride’s seating position is slightly lower than the Palisade. Although each SUV’s seats are equally comfy, drivers sit lower in the Telluride, making it feel more pleasurable to drive. And Kia’s clients have noticed. In the Palisade, though, occupants sit higher, and makes driving the SUV feel like driving a “bloated minivan.”
And honestly, that dissonance in style is the biggest difference between the Kia and Hyundai. Although equal in material quality, the Telluride just looks more stylish, inside and out. That was one of the biggest factor’s behind the status of the Telluride as the SOTY and the Palisade as an also-ran.
Which one should I buy?
Both SUVs offer great luxury for impressively-low prices. And they even have the same EPA fuel economy: 19-mpg city/24-mpg highway for AWD models.
Going purely by standard features, the Palisade is slightly ahead. That Harmon Karmon audio system, for example, comes with more speakers in the Palisade. There’s also the larger touchscreen, as well as a power-operated third row and digital display cluster.
On the other hand, what gave the Kia Telluride the MT SOTY award wasn’t just refinement and options. It was style and driving experience. People just like the look of the Telluride more, and like driving it more.
Ultimately, it boils down to this. The Hyundai Palisade is slightly more luxurious, while the Kia Telluride is more stylish. But you can’t go wrong with either.