These two stable mates, the Kia Telluride vs Hyundai Palisade, rank near the top of the midsize SUV list. Here’s how to tell them apart.
Even though the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade share the same powertrain, and roughly the same proportions, there are crucial differences, some subtle some significant, that set these two SUVs apart. Both are indeed great choices for a mid-to-large size SUV/crossover. They both feature decent power and towing, good cargo capacity, a nice ride, and all the modern safety features and tech amenities that consumers expect. All that and they top out at just above $40,000, so they’re eminently affordable, especially at the lower trim levels. But how to decide between the two?
Below we’ll take you inside and out to show you some key differences that set the Telluride and Palisade apart.
The Telluride and Palisade share the same powertrain, a 3.8L V6 putting out 291 hp and 262lbs of torque paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration is good, handling, while still SUV-like, is perfectly adequate, and the ride is smooth and refined around town and on the highway. Both have the same tow rating of 5000lbs.
What’s the difference then? There are two differences actually.
First, the Palisade features available paddle shifters for some added flair, and in place of a traditional shifter handle Hyundai introduced a push-button shifter on the center consol. Whether this actually improves on either the normal shifter handle or the dials and assorted knobs that keep popping up remains to be seen.
Second, the Telluride gets ever so slightly better mpg numbers. The Palisade’s FWD gets 19 city/ 26 hwy., with the AWD slightly below at 19/24. The Telluride’s FWD get a mile better in the city at 20/26 and the same with AWD (19/24). These miniscule differences wouldn’t likely be noticeable in real world driving.
Seems like we’ll have to look deeper than raw performance numbers to tell the difference between these.
Both the Telluride and Palisade have well-appointed, well-designed interiors, but they diverge significantly on styling.
In addition to the push-button shifter, the Palisade is loaded with quality materials and some striking design touches. The center console offers wireless phone charging and maximizes space with pop-out cup holders. The available quilted stitching and elegantly conceived lines evoke those of much more expensive vehicles. It’s that near-luxury allure that might be the biggest factor in favor of the Palisade. And with prices firmly in the mid-$30,000s, the Palisade looks and feels like a great deal because it is.
This isn’t to say the Telluride looks cheap on the inside either, far from it. But between the two, the Telluride’s a bit toned down and more conventional than the Palisade. This isn’t a bad thing by any means, and in fact, it’s a significant factor that might sway buyers in its favor. The Telluride’s design is also modern, featuring long continuous lines, plenty of leather, and a centrally located touchscreen that feels proportional and well positioned.
Depending on your design preference, both the Palisade and Telluride offer high-quality interiors.
Another difference between the Telluride and Palisade is clear once you open the rear hatch. In keeping with its ultra-modern styling, the Palisade has a power folding 3rd row. One button and your cargo space has expanded from 18 cu. ft. to 46 cu. ft. The Telluride don’t offer a power folding option for its 3rd row. But we’d argue it’s a rather unnecessary feature since the draw strap release of the Telluride lets you fold the 3rd row in a second flat while the Palisade’s power folding seats leave you looking at your watch. In addition to being faster, the Telluride also starts a bit bigger in the way way back at 21 cu. ft. as opposed to the Palisade’s 18 cu. ft. So, when it comes to cargo space and ease of use, the clear winner is the Telluride.
Both the Palisade and Telluride boast a wide package of advanced safety features. Standard items for both include automatic emergency breaking with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, rear parking sensors, and adaptive cruise control.
The Telluride offers a bit extra starting out with their blind spot collision avoidance assist-rear, a feature that requires a step up in trim with the Palisade. Both blind spot monitoring systems (available on upper trims for both vehicles) have cameras which can display in the instrument cluster. A pretty neat trick in our book.
Up to this point we’ve delved mostly into substantive differences between the Telluride and the Palisade. Ultimately the differences have been minimal. The point where they most clearly diverge is actually right there at the surface. These two vehicles have vastly different sensibilities.
The Palisade runs with the modern trend of the ever expanding grilles, as seen in the current generation of Lexuses and BMWs. And the Palisade continues the luxury allusions front to back with eye-catching design elements like its headlights. These split the turn signal, positioned above, from the large double stacked headlights. It’s a bold design choice that lends a distinct character to the Palisade. Too bad this also steals space for fogs lamps, which aren’t available on the Palisade (but are on the Telluride). The turn signals on the side mirrors and the taillights offer more futuristic flourish. Much of this flash probably stems from the global market (read China) to which the Palisade is meant to appeal. In contrast, the Telluride is a North America only SUV.
Indeed, the Telluride has its own personality, in keeping with North American tastes for rugged looking SUVs. It makes sense then that the Telluride’s design harkens toward the Land Rover and domestic SUVs. Its beefy, muscular, and squarish that may remind you of your tobacco-chewing crew-cut wearing high school wrestling coach.
The Telluride’s tiger nose grill is its most prominent and informative feature. It’s practically growling before you’ve even started the engine. The rest of the Telluride’s design takes its cues from the grille, rough and tough, serious lines. While its more likely to be conquering trips to the grocery store than major off-road trails, the Telluride looks every bit the part.
And there it is, the biggest differentiator between these two cousins is their style rather than their substance. While there are a few minor details that set them apart, the deciding factor for purchasers will be whether they feel drawn toward the Hyundai’s more future forward aesthetic or the Kia’s rugged confidence. For our money the Telluride wins this head-to-head quite handily, but your mileage may vary.
What’s your verdict on the Telluride versus the Palisade? Let us know in the comments.
You spend most of your time in the car, not staring at it. Palisade is the easy choice based purely on interior quality. And the rear seats may go down in a second in the Telluride. Let me know about the process to get them back up.
Too bad they are charging 4-7k over MSRP for a Telluride. Makes the Palisade the clear winner.
Bought my 2021 Telluride EX Nightfall Edition about 2 months ago. What a great vehicle. It is our “weekend car” for trips and towing with our daily drivers being a 2017 Mercedes C300 Convertible and a 2018 Audi A5 Sportback. The Kia gives up nothing in terms of luxury and features to either car. Is it as fun to drive as the Audi or Merc? Of course not. But it is quiet, comfortable, confident and gets way more looks than I anticipated with the Nightfall package (went camping last weekend at least 5 guys came up to me to talk about it.
Also, we paid sticker price for it. I know there has been some markups but our dealer wasn’t adding on any dealer markup.