To say that the Telluride has been winning buyers’ hearts is almost selling Kia’s 3-row crossover/SUV short. Positive reviews of the Kia Telluride and its Hyundai counterpart, the Palisade, keep pouring in. However, Chevy’s 3-row crossover, the Traverse, also did well in Consumer Reports’ recent testing. And, like the Telluride, it proves that you don’t always need a body-on-frame SUV like the Tahoe. But compared to the Kia, the Chevy Traverse doesn’t fair too well.
2021 Kia Telluride vs. 2020 Chevy Traverse: pricing, specs, and features
Price-wise, the 2021 Kia Telluride and Chevy Traverse are fairly similar.
The cheapest Telluride, the LX, starts at $31,990. Then, in order of increasing price, there’s the S ($34,390), EX ($37,390), and SX ($42,190). They all have the same engine and transmission: a 3.8-liter V6 rated at 291 hp and 262 lb-ft and an 8-speed automatic. The Kia Telluride comes standard with front-wheel drive, but AWD is optional.
The Chevy Traverse L, the least-expensive model, is slightly cheaper than the Telluride: it starts at $29,800. But the most expensive model, the High Country, is about $8700 more expensive than the Telluride SX. And, like the Kia, the Chevy Traverse only offers one engine and transmission combo. It’s powered by a 3.6-liter V6, rated at 310 hp and 266 lb-ft, Car and Driver reports. That’s linked to a 9-speed automatic, with either standard FWD or optional AWD. But AWD isn’t available on the L—you’ll need to step up to at least the $32,900 LS.
Both the Chevy Traverse and the Kia Telluride come standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. However, unlike the Traverse, the Telluride comes with several standard ADAS features. If you want blind-spot monitoring, forward-collision warning, and lane-keeping assist on the Traverse, they’ll cost extra, Car and Driver reports. The Kia Telluride is also an IIHS Top Safety Pick, while the Chevy Traverse isn’t, Motor Trend reports.
The Kia Telluride out-classes the Chevy Traverse
The Telluride’s standard feature advantage extends beyond safety, though.
Stepping up to the SX grants you a 10.3” touchscreen, quilted leather upholstery, heated and ventilated seats, and 2nd-row privacy shades, Car and Driver reports. Meanwhile, even the higher Chevy Traverse trims only offer an 8” screen, MT reports. Plus, if you wanted to get a Traverse with the same standard features as the Telluride EX, you’d need to go with the $45,800 Premier.
In addition to the extra features, there’s the simple fact that the Kia Telluride has a higher-quality interior than the Chevy Traverse. Even compared to the Buick Enclave, which is based on the Traverse, the Telluride’s interior materials are better, Car and Driver reports. MT describes the Traverse’s switchgear as “chintzy.”
The Kia Telluride also rides better than the Chevy Traverse, MT reports. That pays dividends for the Chevy in terms of handling, to be fair. But Kia’s 3-row crossover has the edge in comfort.
Finally, the Kia Telluride is more reliable than the Traverse, according to Consumer Reports. It gives the Chevy its worst reliability ranking, scoring it a 1/5. In contrast, the Telluride has a 4/5 reliability score. And in Car and Driver’s long-term example, the only flaw so far has been a cracked windshield.
Does the Traverse have any advantages?
The Chevy Traverse does have some benefits over the Telluride, though. For one, Kia doesn’t offer it with a WiFi hotspot, which is a Traverse feature.
Secondly, compared to the Traverse, the Kia Telluride is a bit down on power, Road & Track reports. Although the Chevy doesn’t have significantly more power, it’s enough to make it feel relatively sporty, Car and Driver reports. Chevy’s 3-row crossover also has slightly more agile handling.
Also, potentially because it isn’t working as hard, the Traverse’s V6 is more fuel-efficient. In Car and Driver’s testing, the Traverse managed 27 mpg on the highway. The Kia Telluride, meanwhile, only managed 24 mpg. Both crossovers can tow up to 5000 pounds, but the Telluride lacks a 7-pin trailer hitch, R&T reports. It also doesn’t have a dedicated trailering mode.
Which is the one to get?
Although the Chevy Traverse is more fuel-efficient and sportier than the Kia Telluride, there’s a reason the latter is MT’s SUV of the Year. Simply put, it offers a more refined interior and more value for money.
However, that might not be the case for long. The Chevy Traverse is due for an update, which Car and Driver reports includes more standard safety features. It was originally scheduled for the 2021 model year but has now been delayed until 2022. It’s possible the update may make Chevy’s crossover a better rival for the Telluride.
But until that happens, the Kia gets our vote over the Chevy.
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