2020 saw the arrival of the biggest Kia yet, the Telluride 3-row SUV. Both it and its platform-mate Hyundai Palisade have been very successful and raised the bar for large crossover utes. And while the Telluride was already the tougher looking of the two, for ’23 it takes an even more rugged turn through the power of X.

This is an X-Pro outfitted 2023 Kia Telluride, one of two rugged X-themed upgrade trims now available throughout the Kia utility lineup. X-Line is the other one, and where the bulk of the off-road specific upgrades are applied; X-Pro just adds a little more capability on top, you know, for the pros.

Naturally, the transformation starts with higher ground clearance, though it’s only about a half an inch here; more noticeable is the new beefier roof rack. On top of that, X-Pro adds a tow mode, better cooling, and a self-leveling rear suspension that boosts towing capacity from 5,000 to 5,500-lbs., and the Pro gets tough looking 18-inch wheels with actual all-terrain tires.

Choosing either X upgrade trims will include active on-demand all-wheel drive with a locking center differential, along with added downhill brake control to manage descents in steep or slippery terrain. Much of the technical aspects were already available on the Telluride, just now gathered into a more comprehensive and marketable package.

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Both share a toughened-up face with simulated skid plate up front and more substantial looking bumper in rear. But all ’23 Tellurides get updated lighting in front and back, as well as a new grille and specific wheel designs for each trim level.

You don’t have to be the rugged type to enjoy the tech enhancements available in all Tellurides which include standard navigation, enhanced smart phone integration, and a new panoramic curved display with dual 12.3-inch screens that blend into one another seamlessly on top of the dash. The dash itself gets reshaped to accommodate this, getting slimmer vents along with upgraded materials, and even a redesigned steering wheel.

3-rows of seating remains standard in all Tellurides, and whether you go with captain’s or bench seating for the 2nd row, it is very spacious feeling; the 3rd row is not bad either. Cargo space remains quite good for a crossover too, 21.0 cubic-ft. of space behind the 3rd row, 46.0 behind the 2nd, and a max of 87.0 cubic-ft. with all seats folded.

The SX-Prestige trim level of our X-Pro Telluride tester means nicely stitched Nappa Leather seating, Harmon Kardon premium audio, surround view monitor, and even a Head-Up display which has grown from 8.5 to 10-inches. And there’s even a real shifter for the 8-speed automatic transmission, instead of platform-mate Palisade’s array of buttons.

Attached to that 8-speed is the same 3.8-liter V6 as before, and output remains at 291-horsepower and 262 lb-ft. of torque. This is a lot of vehicle for that humble V6 to deal with, but at our Mason Dixon test track, it leapt off the line with a decent amount of punch, and hit 60 in 6.9 seconds, actually a few tenths quicker than our original Telluride test in ’20.

Power delivery remains very linear throughout the ¼-mile, with smooth and steady shifts from the automatic helping to maintain good momentum throughout the 15.2-second ¼-mile which we completed at 93 miles-per-hour. All-terrain tires are never the best choice for on-pavement slalom work, and at times our Telluride did struggle for grip; but, body roll is by no means excessive and both steering feel and weight were quite good. Plus, the 4-wheel independent suspension and unibody construction certainly give it a leg up on full-framed competitors.

2023 Kia Telluride Interior2023 Kia Telluride Dashboard

Kia’s all-wheel drive system comes with handling benefits as well, constantly adjusting the distribution of power sent fore and aft to best match road conditions and driver input. Brakes were strong with just moderate nosedive during the consistently straight and smooth stops which averaged just 109-feet. Great pedal feel too, along with very little ABS pulsing, all delivering a very confidence inspiring feel in this big utility.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 18-City, 24-Highway, and 21-Combined. We averaged a reasonable 20.1 miles-per-gallon of Regular. That’s just slightly below average for the Energy Impact Score, using 14.2-barrels of oil yearly, with 7.2-tons of CO2 emissions.

X offerings expand the already very broad lineup of Tellurides which start at just $37,255. X-Line is available on EX and above, starting at $47,050; you’ll have to step up to SX trim to go pro, starting at $51,040.

Now, we’re not saying you should run out and trade your current Telluride in to go to the X-side, but if you are already thinking about buying a 2023 Kia Telluride, why not choose the one with the most capability, and just happens to be the best looking one too? For us, it would be X-Pro all the way.


  • Engine: 3.8L V6
  • Torque: 262 lb-ft.
  • 1/4 Mile: 15.2 seconds at 93 mph
  • EPA: 18 City / 24 Highway / 21 Combined
  • Horsepower: 291
  • 0-60 mph: 6.9 seconds
  • 60-0 Stopping Distance: 109 feet (avg)
  • MW Fuel Economy: 20.1 mpg (Regular)