2023 KIA TELLURIDE X-Pro TEST DRIVE

2023 KIA TELLURIDE X-Pro TEST DRIVE FOR TOP SPEED BY STEVE HAMMES

2023 Kia Telluride SX-Prestige X-Pro 

Instantly becoming one of the brand’s bestsellers upon introduction for the 2020 model year, the Kia “Selluride” continues to woo shoppers in droves with its combination of attractive pricing and luxury-level amenities. Now for its first refresh, the 2023 Telluride targets more adventuresome types with the debut of new X-Line and X-Pro trims.

THE X-PRO ADVANTAGE

Kia’s initial marketing campaign for the Telluride showed it driving through muddy fields in a proclamation of its off-road prowess which is why I was a bit surprised when none of the drive modes were dedicated to such four-wheeling.  And now with this new range-topping X-Pro model flaunting a raised suspension and all-terrain tires, I was certain I’d see some sort of trail settings beyond the all-wheel drive lock mode but nope; just the standard five found on any Telluride equipped with all-wheel drive.  Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t a big deal, but I call attention to it because it’s indicative of Kia’s somewhat perfunctory approach to the boldly named X-Pro.  An additional 0.39-inches of ground clearance, upgraded traction control system and a tow mode with a 500-pound bump in towing capacity doesn’t exactly scream Hell’s Revenge.  But it’s the X-Pro’s exclusive 18-inch off-road tires that provide the most tangible upgrade.  Continental’s new TerrainContact A/T is molded with a mild all-terrain tread pattern that expands capability while also maintaining quiet highway travel, making this an excellent fitment for the Telluride.  

ALL-TERRAIN TIRES PLUS AWD LOCK MODE 

Building off of the less aggressive X-Line trim (formerly known as the Nightfall Edition) the X-Pro further benefits from slightly improved approach and departure angles.  At speeds below 25 MPH pressing the AWD Lock mode button keeps the rear tires in play maximizing traction on unpaved, sandy and muddy roads, otherwise the Telluride is predominantly a front-wheel drive SUV.  Having just come off of a week with its equally freshened corporate cousin the Hyundai Palisade, I can say that the X-Pro’s smaller wheels and tires contribute to a more pleasing ride that also feels less brittle off pavement.  And it may look big but it fits in normal size garages and never feels ungainly from behind the wheel. 

ADDED TOWING CAPACITY

More than likely, it’s the X-Pro’s tougher front-end design, raised roof rails, and overall hardier stance that’ll amplify the Telluride’s appeal.  A self-leveling rear suspension is also standard to enhance control and stability, particularly when towing of which the Telluride can handle up to 5,500 pounds.  Combined fuel economy of 21 MPG is unchanged from last year’s all-wheel drive Telluride though the city estimate has decreased from 19 to 18 MPG.  Total driving range is 395 miles.  

STYLING CHANGES AND PRICING

Regardless of trim, all Telluride models receive a revised headlamp design and new wheels to compliment the updated fascias.  Three new paint choices are also offered including this upcharge Midnight Lake Blue.  This Telluride is also fitted with the gorgeous Terracotta Interior Color Package – a $295 option.  Pricing for the 2023 Telluride starts at $37,025 for a front-drive LX and tops out here at $55,120 for the fully-loaded SX-Prestige X-Pro.  That’s a few thousand dollars more than the Palisade Calligraphy which skews more on-road premium.  

V6 POWER

Across the board, power stems from a 3.8-liter V6 making 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque working through a traditional 8-speed automatic.  No turbo or funky transmission here; it’s very satisfying driving a vehicle with this level of organic feel. Smooth and linear – it’s a joy to drive with satisfying amounts of power.      

EXCEEDING 3-ROW EXPECTATIONS

The cabin exceeds expectations of what a three-row SUV can deliver at this price.  It’s evident that Kia toiled over this vehicle to the nth degree making it holistically satisfying, from the way it looks to the way it simplifies life for a busy family.  With a touch of a button the captain’s seats slide easily out of the way for access to the large 3rd row, there’s a system for communicating with the kids back there so that they can clearly hear your admonitions, and you can leave the owner’s manual in the glovebox because the electronics are so intuitive.  The “I wish Kia had done this differently” list is extremely small but I’ve found a couple of things: 1) the smart key system for locking and unlocking the vehicle should work on all doors, not just the front and 2) just like all Hyundai/Kia/Genesis vehicles with the biggest infotainment screens there’s no wireless phone projection here.  

 

SAFETY MATTERS

From the video screen rearview mirror to the head-up display to the heated and ventilated 2nd row seats this SX-Prestige trim packs it all in and does it with a great degree of comfort and spaciousness for a vehicle technically classified as a small sport utility vehicle.  And of course, Kia’s full pantry of Drive Wise driver-assist technologies is here too including Smart Cruise Control w/Stop & Go for traffic jam situations, Highway Driving Assist 2 that aids in lane changes and Forward Collision Avoidance including cyclist detection.  The IIHS has given the Telluride its Top Safety Pick award.   

MSRP VS ACUTAL TRANSACTION PRICE

Because of its desirability some dealers are tacking on big market adjustments to the Telluride. Available in 10 trim levels there is no shortage of build possibilities if this X-Pro’s $55k+ MSRP is a little intimidating.  Kia also sells an extensive catalog of Yakima accessories for this model including various style roof rack cross bars, a rooftop cargo basket, bike and kayak carriers and more.  A dual screen rear entertainment system is also offered.     

OFF-ROAD SWAGGER AND EXTENDED CAPABILTY

Whether or not you decide to go X-Line or all the way to X-Pro, these new additions to the Telluride lineup add a little off-road swagger and, with the meatier rubber, expand capability.  The X-Pro treatment doesn’t turn the Telluride into a Land Rover but with a brand as ambitious as Kia I wouldn’t be surprised to see it further this trail-ready narrative.  

 

2023 KIA TELLURIDE X-Pro TEST DRIVE FOR TOP SPEED BY STEVE HAMMES  |  TESTDRIVENOW.COM 2023(c)

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