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Kia’s 2023 SX-Prestige X-PRO V6 – YOU GOT THIS.

Car Reviews

Kia’s 2023 SX-Prestige X-PRO V6 – YOU GOT THIS.

Kia’s 2023 SX-Prestige X-PRO V6


If, as Texas Monthly once claimed, Chevy’s Suburban was the National Car of Texas, then in 2023 Kia’s Telluride – a much more contemporary take on the 3-row SUV – would be the National Car of these United States. Penned by Kia Design in Irvine, CA, built in West Point, Georgia and given the tagline of an elevated zip code in the Rockies, since its launch almost four years ago the Telluride has garnered the awards, recognition and sales that put it in rarefied territory. Its success in the marketplace has been unlike any previous vehicle coming from a Kia showroom.  

From your first look you understand the appeal. In profile the Telluride sits upright and offers plenty of greenhouse, not unlike the now-iconic Range Rover. Despite its front-wheel drive/all-wheel drive platform, overhangs are minimal, giving the Telluride an all-terrain demeanor – exactly what you want in an all-terrain SUV. And while the Telluride platform offers over eight inches of ground clearance, stepping into the interior isn’t a climb up; elderly relatives – or your elderly self – might find it challenging, but no one else will.

On my driveway I like the Telluride’s visual tightness. Unlike a lot of 3-row crossovers, there’s no bloat to its overall shape, and no affectation in its detailing. In a word, it’s clean – and if space allows for a second word, I find it timeless, an appropriate match with a powertrain warranty of 10 years and/or 100K miles.

Inside, an equally clean, uncluttered design is enhanced by comfortable appointments, an all-digital instrument panel, NAV standard across all trims and a sense of space unusual for what the EPA categorizes as a midsize SUV. In our Telluride SX-Prestige X-PRO V6 AWD (Really? Really.) you’re coddled by Nappa leather seat trim, heated and ventilated seating for both front and second row (Captain’s chairs) passengers and a Harman/Kardon sound system. And while Kia makes no claims of a near-luxury experience, that’s essentially what it is, at price points across all Telluride trims straddling what we used to term ‘accessible’; a base LX with all-wheel drive starts at under $40K. 

If there’s a shortcoming to this recipe, at least from a perception standpoint, it’s the small amount of room behind the third-row seat. It’ll work for a couple of suitcases or coolers, but it won’t work if your family of six is intending to go somewhere for a couple of nights or long weekend – unless you have a box on top…or send that luggage ahead. Again, I like the tightness of the platform and packaging, and with the 3rd seat folded you’ll enjoy 46 cubic feet of storage – with both rows folded 87 cubic feet. But if you have more than two kids and travel, consider Kia’s Carnival minivan.

Behind the wheel I’m reminded of Frank Costanza’s mantra: SERENITY NOW! Offering a composed platform, compliant ride and communicative steering, the normally aspirated V6 – with 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque connected to an 8-speed automatic – goes about its business with genuine serenity. You’re not isolated from what’s going on around you, but neither are you jarred by what’s going on around you. You’ll find the Telluride a comfortable haven for the workday commute, or the three-week tour of our amazing countryside.

At the end of a week with Kia’s remarkably complete crossover, I had but one disconnect: its X-PRO trim, which supplies 18-inch alloys shod with all-terrain tires, increased towing capacity, heavy-duty cooling and self-leveling suspension. All of that adds up to increased capability, but implies – maybe it’s the marketing guys – of real off-road capability. As spec’d, the Telluride is great for fire roads, and might even work on logging trails; if you want to hop boulders, however, wrangle yourself a Wrangler.

At this life stage, in semi-retirement with one grandkid in VA and two in CA, we don’t need three rows of anything. But if Kia’s Telluride would fit in our small garage, it’d be a great fit in that garage. Ride on…

From the road: Jim Manning, North Texas

Does the joy of the Telluride tarnish after 16 months? Hardly. 

Photo credit to 'The Mannings'
Photo credit to ‘The Mannings’

We needed a tow vehicle for our new 20-foot, 2881-pound (dry) R-Pod travel trailer. Even though I’m a Texan, I didn’t want a pickup. The Telluride won a showroom competition with Ford’s Explorer, Honda’s Passport, Nissan’s Pathfinder and Acura’s MDX. 

At 70mph you can barely tell the trailer is there. The engine pulls well, and the self-leveling suspension keeps the ride smooth. I’m amazed that it delivered 13.5 MPG average @ 65-75 MPH against a 15MPH headwind on a run from Dallas to Galveston. Radar and cameras to assist with speed control and lane safety give the confidence to GO! The SMART all-wheel drive traction control balances grip and economy, and the 8-speed transmission is so smooth that the tachometer is practically the only way to know when it shifts, up or down. 

Last summer, on an epic 8000-mile Great Atlantic Adventure from Dallas to Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, the Telluride kept us comfortable while averaging 17.5MPG in combined towing and non-towing driving. That sure helped when we found gas to be $2 per… liter (quart)! Without trailer, a trip to northeast Arkansas of 320 miles returned 25.2MPG. 

Inside, the vehicle simply provides a comfortable – even plush – ride. It’s fun to adjust the interior LED mood lights in the dash and door panels through some hundred (or thousand!) colors.  Whether in a February 15-degree ice storm, or a 110-degree excursion to Big Bend in March, it is nice inside. And it sure makes one feel welcome when the door lights come on, and the mirrors automatically expand after a hike – whether in the mountains or the local shopping mall.

Boldt, a contributor to outlets such as, Kelley Blue Book and Autoblog, brings to his laptop some forty years of experience in automotive retail, journalism and public relations. He is a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, The Washington Automotive Press Association and L.A.'s Motor Press Guild. David is the Managing Editor of txGarage, a regular panelist on the AutoNetwork Reports webcast/podcast, and the automotive contributor to Dallas' Katy Trail Weekly.

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