What Is Kia’s Best Midsize SUV?

The Kia Telluride and the Kia Sorento are both excellent midsize SUVs. Click here for more details!
Written by Brittni Brinn
Reviewed by Alita Dark
Kia currently has two midsize SUVs in its lineup—the Kia Sorento and the Kia Telluride. The Telluride is highly rated by critics and drivers for being a near-luxury vehicle with a lot of value. The Sorento is a smaller version of the Telluride and has better fuel economy.
Even though Kia’s SUV lineup tends towards the smaller side, the Sorento and the Telluride are two midsize SUVs that contend with the best. For three-row SUVs with a bit of style and tons of features, these two models are worth a second look. But how do they compare to competitors like the Toyota Highlander and the Hyundai Palisade?
Whether you’re looking to buy a Kia midsize SUV or are just curious about the best that Kia has to offer,
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Kia insurance costs
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Does Kia have a midsize SUV?

There are two Kia midsize SUVs for the 2023 model year. With three rows and excellent ratings, the Telluride and the Sorento both sit comfortably on the higher end of Kia’s lineup. Compact SUVs like the
Seltos
are more common from Kia, but the brand also has the large
Carnival
minivan on offer. Overall, though, the midsize Telluride is the largest SUV that Kia makes.

What makes a midsize SUV?

First, let’s lay out all of the classes when it comes to car size: subcompact, compact, midsize, and full-size. Although it seems like a very cut-and-dry classification system, the guidelines for what makes a midsize SUV are actually pretty vague. By most definitions, a midsize SUV has two or three rows and is bigger than a compact SUV but smaller than a full-size SUV—helpful, right?
So if the Kia Telluride is the biggest SUV on offer, why not call it a full-size SUV? Even though the size classification system for SUVs isn’t super precise, it still helps customers and companies to compare similar vehicles between brands. So, by looking at the Telluride, we can determine that it’s closer in size and performance to a
Hyundai Palisade
than, say, a
Chevy Suburban
.

Is the Kia Sportage a midsize SUV?

The best-selling Kia Sportage isn’t a midsize SUV. In spite of its roomy interior, the Sportage only seats five and is around 40 cubic feet smaller when it comes to passenger space, making it a more comfortable fit in the compact crossover segment.

Telluride vs. Sorento: which is the best midsize Kia SUV?

Since we’re looking for the best midsize SUV in this article, let’s compare the Telluride and the Sorento one-on-one to see which one might be the best fit for you.
Although Kia’s two midsize SUVs have a lot in common, there are some significant differences.

2023 Kia Telluride

MSRP range: $35,690 to $51,725
MPG: 21 combined/19 city/24 highway mpg
Seating for: 7 or 8 passengers
Without a doubt, the Kia Telluride is a winner. With a perfect 10/10 rating from Car and Driver, near-luxury features, and an excellent driving experience, the Telluride is the real deal.
Let’s start with the engine. The Telluride runs on a smooth, naturally aspirated V-6 that produces 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and standard front-wheel drive—all-wheel drive is also available.
The Telluride’s engine performance, though quiet and capable, isn’t what makes the Telluride great. Rather, it’s the fantastic interior, with comfortable seats, abundant tech features, and spacious storage. The Telluride has 21 cubic feet of cargo room, which can fit four carry-on suitcases with all the seats in use and can store 35 carry-ons with the second and third rows folded down.
Here are some of the features that come with the Telluride:
  • 12.3-inch touchscreen
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability
  • In-dash navigation
  • Wi-Fi
  • Driver Talk speakers for communication between the front and back rows
In terms of driver-assistance features, the Telluride comes with standard forward-collision warning, automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist, and blind-spot monitoring.
Even the best SUVs come with some drawbacks. For the Telluride, average fuel efficiency and a lackluster driving experience are the downsides of this otherwise excellent midsize SUV.

2023 Kia Sorento

MSRP range: $36,590 to $51,185
MPG: 34 combined/35 city/33 highway mpg, 79 MPGe, or EV range of 32 miles
Seating for: Up to 7 passengers
A bit smaller and not as well-reviewed as the Telluride, the Kia Sorento still scores a solid 8.5/10 from Car and Driver. With more powertrain options and better fuel economy than the Telluride, the Sorento still has a lot to offer the midsize SUV segment—especially for drivers who don’t always need to use the third row of seating.
In fact, let’s start with the seating. The Sorento’s third row is a bit cramped for most adults, but children or folks with shorter legs will find it comfortable enough. The second row, on the other hand, is spacious for any height of passenger and can be equipped with a bench or captain’s chairs.
Speaking of choices, the Sorento comes in front- or all-wheel drive with three engine options:
  • 191-hp 2.5-liter inline-four-cylinder engine with eight-speed automatic transmission (standard)
  • 281-hp turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder with eight-speed automatic transmission
  • Hybrid 227-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder gas engine with electric motor with six-speed automatic transmission
The main drawback of the Sorento is that it doesn’t come with as many features as the Telluride. But that doesn’t mean it’s without its perks! Here are some features of the Sorento that may pique your interest:
  • Standard 8.0-inch touchscreen or optional 10.3-inch touchscreen
  • Optional wireless charging pad
  • Optional 12-speaker Bose sound system
  • Optional rear-seat entertainment system
  • Standard forward-collision warning
  • Standard automated emergency braking
  • Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist

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2023 Kia Telluride vs. 2023 Kia Sorento comparison

2023 Kia Telluride
2023 Kia Sorento
Starting MSRP
$35,690
$36,590
Seating capacity
Seven or eight
Up to seven
Fuel economy
21 combined mpg
34 combined mpg
Base engine
V-6 (291-hp, 262 lb-ft of torque)
I-4 (191-hp, 311 lb-ft of torque)
Total cargo volume
21 cubic feet
13 cubic feet
Maximum towing capacity
Max. 5,500 lbs
2,000 to 3,500 lbs
NHTSA safety rating
Five stars
Four stars

The bottom line

When it comes down to it, the best Kia midsize SUV depends on your driving needs. If you want a three-row SUV with plenty of space, an impressive interior, and all-around great value, the Telluride is the way to go.
However, if you want a smaller, more fuel-efficient SUV with more engine choices, the Sorento may be best for you.

Best midsize SUV competitors

The Telluride might be considered Kia’s best midsize SUV, but it’s not the only player on the field. If you’re open to expanding your search for the perfect midsize SUV beyond the Kia brand, you may want to consider these comparable competitors:
  • 2023
    Toyota Highlander
    ($36,420 starting MSRP): Above-average fuel economy and your choice of 11 trim levels make the Highlander a great option despite the limited third-row space.
  • 2023
    Hyundai Palisade
    ($35,250 starting MSRP): With a similar build to the Telluride, the Palisade has generous features, a borderline luxury interior, and family comfort at the top of its list.
  • 2023
    BMW X5
    ($61,600 starting MSRP): If luxury is a selling point for you, this BMW SUV offers stylish performance with a choice of three powertrains. Even with the higher price tag, the third row isn’t roomy by any stretch of the imagination.

How to save on Kia insurance

Before you head off to the dealership, make sure you have the best Kia car insurance rates ready to go—you can quickly and easily browse affordable quotes by using the
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