8 Reasons You’ll Want To Wait To Buy A 2021 Kia Telluride SX

There is little wonder why the Kia Telluride SX is so popular.


Kia Telluride Nightfall Edition Grille
The blacked-out grille of the Kia Telluride Nightfall Edition.

What do the mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette and Kia Telluride have in common? Yes, both are made in America, but the most surprising similarity between these otherwise polar opposite vehicles is the fact that both will require extreme patience for buyers hoping to get their hands on one.

The market for three-row, mid-size crossovers is hotter than ever right now, and the Kia Telluride is one of the most popular (if not the most popular) offerings in this segment with consistent wait times to drive one off the lot – depending on the area, the wait could be up to three months for the loaded and sporty looking SX trim level shown here. And that’s for a vehicle that has been on sale since early 2019! Keep reading to find out why Kia’s newest crossover is the brand’s hottest vehicle ever.


Kia Telluride Nightfall Edition Grille
The blacked-out theme of the Kia Telluride Nightfall Edition extends to the wheels.

Competitive Set

The 2021 Kia Telluride competes directly against CUVs like the Honda Pilot, Chevrolet Traverse, Volkswagen Atlas, Toyota Highlander, and the closely related Hyundai Palisade, which all stand as practical family haulers with three rows of seating, space for up to eight passengers, and an abundance of utility. With no shortage of competition in its segment, here are 8 great reasons to buy the 2021 Kia Telluride even with lengthy delivery dates.

1. She’s a looker.

When Kia revealed the Telluride back in 2019, the first thing that stood out was the old-school SUV style. The boxy proportions, long roof, and athletic body creases stand as a stark contrast to the car-like, aerodynamic crossovers the Telluride competes against, but upping the ante for the 2021 model year is a new Nightfall Edition package that brings a distinctive, blacked-out appearance. This $1,295 option package includes exclusive touches such as the black 20-inch wheels, front grille, and even special dark Kia logos.

2. SX trim level with options maxes out luxury and technology.

For 2021, Kia offers the Telluride in four trim levels (LX, EX, S, and SX), but to cram the most content into a Telluride, be sure to check out the SX Prestige package. The SX already comes standard with leather seating, heated and cooled front seats, three-zone climate control, a dual sunroof, and a 10.25-inch touchscreen navigation system, and the SX Prestige takes the Telluride to luxurious heights by adding upgraded Nappa leather seats, a soft, suede-like headliner, head-up display, and heated and cooled second-row captain’s chairs.

3. Very roomy interior.

The Telluride stands as the largest crossover that Kia has ever made, and that size is immediately obvious inside the family hauler. The three rows of seating provide ample room for up to eight passengers, and every seat in the house is comfortable and accommodating – the third row offers up plenty of room for adult passengers. In fact, despite having less third-row legroom than the Dodge Durango, the Telluride’s rearmost accommodations feel roomier thanks to far more headroom and shoulder room.


2021 Kia Telluride front three-quarter view
2021 Kia Telluride front three-quarter view


4. Powerful, smooth, and efficient drivetrain.

All versions of the 2021 Kia Telluride are powered by the same 3.8-liter direct-injected V-6 paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission; all trim levels are available with all-wheel drive. The engine packs quite a punch laying down 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, and the Telluride is still an efficient crossover with EPA ratings of 19 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. Even though the Telluride looks like an old-school SUV, it delivers an impressively smooth and quiet ride.

5. More than a soft-roader.

When Kia was launching the Telluride, it provided images of this mid-size CUV off-roading and splashing through mud, but that was no marketing ploy. Although this Kia is no hardcore off-roader, it is more capable than many other CUVs in its competitive set. On paper, the eight inches of ground clearance is promising, and in the real world, it performed quite well over rough terrain. The overhangs were short enough to not drag on hills or descents, and the all-wheel-drive system with a driver-selectable “AWD Lock” made easy work of various terrain ranging from sugar sand to deep mud.

6. Same great Kia value and warranty.

The 2021 Kia Telluride might represent the future of Kia’s design capabilities, but it still packs the same great value and warranty that the brand is known for. Starting at $32,190 (which doesn’t include the $1,225 destination charge), the Telluride is priced right in the middle of the pack costing slightly more than a Chevrolet Traverse and Volkswagen Atlas but less than high-volume rivals like the Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot; this loaded Telluride SX Nightfall Edition topped out at just over $50,000. Of course, Kia delivers one of the best warranties of any automaker with five-year/60,000-mile coverages for basic warranty and roadside assistance as well as a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.


2021 Kia Telluride SX captain's chairs
The second-row captain’s chairs rival the front thrones for the best seats in the house.

7. Practical towing capacity.

Proving that its mid-size Telluride is a true all-around family hauler, Kia packed in plenty of utility including a 5,000-pound towing capacity. The $795 Towing Package includes a Class III tow hitch and a self-leveling rear suspension meaning it is ready to tow anything a family would need it to such as a camper trailer or boat. If it’s just cargo space you need, though, the Telluride offers plenty of space there with 21 cubic feet located behind the third row and 87 cubic feet (more than the Dodge Durango) with the second and third rows folded flat.

8. It’s made in America.

The Kia Telluride is manufactured at Kia Motor Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG), which is located in West Point, Georgia about an hour from Atlanta. This 2,200-acre facility cranks out 340,000 vehicles a year, and, in addition to the Telluride, this plant also is responsible for building the Kia Sorento crossover and Kia K5 sedan.

Parting Thoughts

Kia has come a long way since it first launched in the U.S. back in 1994, and the 2021 Kia Telluride is the brand’s best combination of luxury, style, and technology to date. This mid-size crossover has been a refreshing addition to the mid-size crossover segment, and after sampling this fully loaded and ultra-luxurious SX Prestige trim level, it’s no surprise that the Tellurides are flying off Kia dealership lots.


Kia Telluride SX interior
Premium elements make the Telluride SX a solid alternative to luxury makes.

See AlsoThe Kia K5 GT Kicks Up Performance

Photos courtesy of Kia Motors Corporation.

Author: Jeffrey Ross
Jeffrey N. Ross is a wrencher turned writer having started his automotive career as an ASE-certified mechanic and in 2006, he switched gears to become an automotive journalist. He is currently a content creator for FIXD Automotive, an Atlanta-based company that developed an affordable and easy-to-use OBD2 sensor and smartphone app that not only helps people diagnose check engine lights but also fix the problem themselves. Jeffrey still finds time for wrenching, though, with his current vehicle being a 2006 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, and in his spare time, he likes to go off-roading, camping, and rock climbing with his family.

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