There’s Only 1 Good Reason to Choose the Kia Telluride Over the Mazda CX-9

Both the Mazda CX-9 and the Kia Telluride are popular three-row family SUV options. Each offers a range of trim options, affordable pricing, and loads of driver assistance and safety features. The 2021 Kia Telluride is a compelling choice for a new SUV. But when we look closer at the 2021 Mazda CX-9, there’s really only one major difference that could sway a buyer from choosing the Telluride instead. They are both good midsize crossover SUV options, but there isn’t much about the Kia that stands out against the Mazda.

The buy ultimately comes down to consumer preference. The exterior styling of these two vehicles is definitely very different. So that may be a deciding factor for some. Looks aside, however, the 2021 Kia Telluride really only has one major bonus factor to keep buyers from choosing the 2021 Mazda CX-9 instead.

The 2021 Mazda CX-9

The 2021 Mazda CX-9 starts between $33,960 – $46,605, according to U.S. News and World Report. New for the 2021 model year, the CX-9 gets an upgraded infotainment system. Plus, an all-new Carbon Edition trim level to tantalize potential buyers of this three-row family SUV.

the dark and detailed interior of the 2021 Mazda CX-9 carbon edition SUV
2021 Mazda CX-9 Carbon Edition Interior | Mazda

This Mazda gets praise from critics across the board for its agility. Pretty much anyone who’s been behind the wheel of one says it’s genuinely fun to drive. In fact, it’s the perfect compromise for a driving enthusiast that needs to step up to a midsize crossover in order to make room for more passengers.

Standard features for the 2021 Mazda CX-9 include heated front seats and a 6-way power-adjustable seat for the driver. The new CX-9 also gets a standard 10.3-inch touch screen display. You’ll see standard Apple CarPlay as well as Android Auto. Two USB ports, BlueTooth, and a WiFi hotspot are also standard features on the 2021 Mazda CX-9.

a silver 2021 Mazda CX-9 driving down a remote forest road.
2021 Mazda CX-9

The standard push-button start turns over a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. With 227 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, the CX-9’s turbo four has quite a bit of pep for a mid-size crossover SUV. Plus an EPA rating of 22 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway won’t hurt your wallet too much at the gas tank.

The 2021 Kia Telluride

According to U.S. News and World Report, the 2021 Kia Telluride starts between $33,960 – $46,605. It’s also a nice three-row family SUV with an upscale interior and a good overall driving experience. New for the 2021 model year, the Telluride gets a smooth Nightfall Edition with blacked-out details.

2021 Kia Telluride Nightfall Edition from the back
2021 Kia Telluride Nightfall Edition | Kia

The ride is praised for being peaceful and quiet. U.S. News writes that it has plenty of passing power and as an entire package it’s entirely user-friendly in every way. For anyone that wants to move a good amount of people and gear around from place to place and look great doing it, the Kia Telluride is an affordable option.

The 2021 Kia Telluride gets an array of standard features as well. There are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto implemented by an 8-inch touch screen. Kia also goes above and beyond on the basics.

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

The Kia Telluride’s 3.8-liter V6 has been called underpowered. However, it received the same 0-60 mph speed in its Car and Driver review (of 7.1 seconds) as the Mazda CX-9. With 291 horsepower but just 262 pound-feet of torque, it’s in the same league though maybe not quite as zippy as the Mazda midsize crossover SUV option.

Other than looks, there’s 1 deciding factor

Each of these three-row family SUV options is nearly identical on paper. But there is one major difference that will turn buyers to the Kia option. The mid-size crossover SUV comparison here shows two similarly accomodating examples of large movers people and stuff. They each have similarly equipped lists of standard driver-assist and safety features. Both are positively critiqued for their opulent cabins. So what’s the big dif? Space.

A rearview of the 2020 Kia Telluride midsize crossover SUV with its back row seats folded down.
Kia Telluride | Kia

‘Under the Radar’ Popular Compact SUV Alternatives From Consumer Reports

The 2021 Mazda CX-9 seats 6-7 people, depending on the middle row captain seat option. On the other hand, the 2021 Kia Telluride seats 7-8. In terms of cubic feet of cargo space, the Telluride is a clear winner. It accommodates from 21 cubic feet to 87 with all of the seats down. The CX-9 offers only 14.4 cubic feet to 71.2 with all the seats down. If you want a midsize crossover SUV to haul more humans and extra gear, go with the Telluride instead of the CX-9.