The 2023 Kia Telluride and 2023 Hyundai Palisade are two of the most popular three-row family SUVs on the market and for good reason: They’re excellent! It stands to reason, then, that an awful lot of people are trying to figure out which one might be better for them.
Before diving deeper into answering that question, there’s something very important to know: They are twins. You see, Hyundai and Kia are sister brands. Basically, a common chassis/platform and powertrain were developed, and each brand went their separate ways to finish the job with designs unique enough that they hide the common DNA. There’s indeed a lot more differentiating them than so-called “badge engineered” vehicles (for instance, a Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable, or the Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave), but their shared basics are also a big reason why they’re so good. So too are Hyundai and Kia’s common attribute of providing abundant value for your money, plus their many shared technology features.
So let’s take a look at some of those differences, plus those areas where they’re equal.
Read our full 2023 Hyundai Palisade Review
Read our full 2023 Kia Telluride Review
Which has a nicer interior?
If “nicer” is defined by the quality of materials and construction, this is basically a tie. The Palisade and Telluride don’t share interior bits and pieces, but if they came from the same supplier with the same quality standards, we wouldn’t be surprised.
Really, this comes down to aesthetics and some minor functionality differences. The Palisade’s design is more modern and organic in appearance, while the Telluride is blockier – not unlike its interior. Interior controls are more front-and-center in the Kia, whereas they blend into the design of the Palisade. Speaking of which, the key functionality difference comes down to the center console. The Telluride has a more traditional setup with a PRND shifter surrounded by open cupholders and a bin. The Palisade has a push-button shifter surrounded by various climate and vehicle control buttons that in the Kia, are split between the dash and center console. The Palisade’s cupholders and phone storage are then all together in a covered bin behind those controls.
Which is better? Objectively, the answer is neither. It comes down to personal preference. Get ready to hear that a lot.
Which has better infotainment technology?
Hyundai and Kia share nearly all the same technology features and, not unlike the chassis, unique designs masking a common infotainment operating system and hardware concept. Each has a 12.3-inch touchscreen with a row of physical menu shortcut buttons (including the excellent customizable star button that’ll call up whatever you want such as Apple CarPlay). Upper trims get a 12.3-inch instrument panel screen. Although the touchscreen user-interface and IP displays have different graphics and layouts, overall usability is similarly excellent.
Which is safer?
Both received the best-possible rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety: Top Safety Pick+. The NHTSA also awarded both five-star crash ratings.
They also offer the same exceptional safety and driver assistance systems. Standard equipment includes forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance, lane-keeping steering assist, blind-spot warning, rear parking sensors, a driver inattention warning system, rear occupant alert, safe exit assist and adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability and lane-centering steering assist (Highway Driving Assist). The Highway Driving Assist II system, available on both, adds enhanced steering assistance and automated lane changes to the adaptive cruise control plus machine learning that allows the system to adapt to your driving style
Which has the bigger back seat?
The boxier Telluride is ever-so-slightly bigger and should feel a bit airier inside as a result. In terms of actual space for your legs and heads, the differences are so minor it makes no difference. Importantly, they both have one of the most spacious and comfortable third-row seats among crossovers. Even full-sized adults can fit comfortably for extended periods of time, which also means teens and smaller folks will be even more comfortable. As with most three-row vehicles, there is a choice of a second-row bench and captain’s chairs, which equate to a choice of eight- or seven-passenger capacity.
Which has more cargo capacity and functionality?
The differences in maximum cargo capacity are basically inconsequential: They’re similarly enormous. Space behind the raised third-row favors the Telluride, however. It has 21 cubic-feet of space, which was big enough to accommodate five suitcases in our luggage test. The Palisade has 19 cubic-feet, which amounted to one fewer suitcase. A key difference is the under-floor storage area – both SUVs have them, but the Telluride’s is bigger and therefore better able to contribute to luggage-holding. Still, even the Palisade’s rearmost cargo area is one of the more voluminous in the segment.
Which gets better fuel economy?
Telluride, but only by a whisker.
The front-wheel-drive Telluride is rated at 20 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined. With all-wheel drive, it gets 18/24/21 mpg. The Palisade returns 19/27/22 mpg with front-wheel drive and 19/25/21 with all-wheel drive. You might save $100 per year by going with the Kia – just keep in mind that the Telluride’s unique X-Pro trim level and its all-terrain tires is bound to get worse fuel economy.
Neither offers a hybrid powertrain, unlike Hyundai and Kia’s smaller SUVs.
Which is more powerful?
Tie! Remember, they have the same powertrain: a 3.8-liter V6 good for 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. Acceleration times are basically the same.
Which is better to drive?
Are there differences in the way Hyundai and Kia tuned the common box of chassis and powertrain components? Sure. Are they enough for most drivers to notice, let alone care? No way. They both provide a well-rounded driving experience free from bad habits but also bereft of anything particularly memorable. Effectively, it reaches the bar set by the vast majority of buyers in this segment. The V6 engine produces plenty of power, but ultimately produces acceleration on-par with most other vehicles in the segment. The steering is precise and gains a little extra effort when in Sport mode, but it also doesn’t keep you particularly engaged in the driving experience.
Which is more comfortable?
Ride quality is similarly excellent, though the Telluride X-Pro’s all-terrain tires add some impact firmness many will find disagreeable. They also have different seats, but we haven’t developed a preference for either. Definitely something to check out on back-to-back test drives.
Are there versions that stand out more than others?
The Telluride X-Line and X-Pro are off-road-oriented trim levels that gain burlier styling and an extra 0.4 inch of ground clearance over other Tellurides and the Palisade. The X-Pro (pictured above) goes a step further with Continental all-terrain tires that increase traction off-road but reduce ride comfort on-road. The Palisade XRT (above right) is more of an off-road-look appearance package with blacked-out trim and roof crossbars.
When was the last time they were redesigned?
Both the Telluride and Palisade were introduced for the 2020 model year, and both received updates for 2023. Their exterior styling, especially up front, was tweaked, but we think their original looks were superior. It comes across as change for the sake of change. The interiors also saw slight differences to accommodate a bigger standard touchscreen. Some new tech features, most notably the Highway Driving Assist II system (see safety section), debuted as well.
Which is cheaper and offers more equipment?
The Telluride is about $1,000 more expensive to start, and the luxurious SX Prestige trim is about $1,000 more than the comparable Palisade Calligraphy. However, Kia offers a lot more trim levels, meaning it’s harder to break things down apples-to-apples in the mid-grade trims. In general, though, the Kia is a bit more expensive despite the two offering nearly the same feature content.
You can find a full breakdown of the 2023 Telluride pricing and trim levels here and the 2023 Palisade pricing and trim levels here.