Mid-size crossover SUVs have become quite popular over the years as they offer more versatility than a traditional sedan, coupled with extra reliability. Many manufacturers have had mid-size crossover SUVs on the market for quite some time now. For example, the Ford Explorer has been around since the early 90s. However, as the automotive industry is ever-evolving, more manufacturers have thrown their hats into the ring, and there are now more choices than ever when shopping for an SUV.
Sometimes, a manufacturer will develop and produce a new SUV with enough performance and reliability that it ends up rivaling the classics. This is exactly what we see when we compare the 2021 Kia Telluride vs 2020 Ford Explorer. The 2021 Kia Telluride is only the second model year of this new mid-size crossover SUV, and with such a short history on the market, it’s understandable that some drivers may be skeptical of its dominating presence. However, upon closer inspection, the 2021 Kia Telluride differentiates itself from its older competitors in exciting new ways.
The 2020 Ford Explorer is offered in five trims, and the 2021 Kia Telluride is offered in four. The base Telluride trim is the LX, and it has a starting MSRP of $31,990, while the following trims include the S, EX, and SX. Bringing the 2020 Ford Explorer in for comparison, the base trim is aptly named Explorer and starts at an MSRP of $32,765. This is then followed by the XLT, Limited, ST, and Platinum trims. Although the Ford Explorer and the Kia Telluride are priced fairly similarly, shoppers are likely to be intrigued by the Telluride’s lower price when taking the included features and performance into consideration.
Engines and Transmission
Things get rather complicated for the 2020 Explorer as Ford offers four engines in total that may be fitted into the Explorer. The Ford Explorer comes standard with a 2.3L EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine that produces 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. The next engine is a 3.0L twin-turbo V6 that is offered in two different variants. In the Platinum trim, this engine provides 365 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque, but in the ST trim it gets 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque. The last available powertrain for the Explorer is a V6 hybrid with 318 hp and 322 lb-ft of torque.
In comparison, Kia offers one engine across every trim of the Telluride. This is a 3.8L V6 that can produce 291 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. Considering the lower price of the Telluride, the difference in performance from the base engine in the Explorer is nominal. Practically speaking, few drivers will notice the difference between 291 hp and 300 hp as this is merely a 3% uptick to performance.
The Kia engine also receives very similar fuel efficiency ratings to the base engine found in the Explorer. The Telluride’s engine gets 20 mpg city and 26 highway while the Explorer gets 21 mpg city and 28 highway. Although the Explorer gets slightly better fuel efficiency, it ultimately comes at the cost of a higher MSRP. The Explorer and Telluride can both tow upwards of 5,000 lbs as the Explorer can tow up to 5,600 lbs, and the Telluride tows an even 5,000 lbs. While both vehicles aren’t especially suited for extreme towing, neither the Explorer and Telluride will have any problems towing a boat, for example.
Things get rather interesting when comparing the interiors of both vehicles. For starters, the Telluride supports a maximum passenger capacity of up to eight people, or seven people with the available second-row captain’s chairs. Compared to the Explorer, there you’ll find a maximum seating capacity of seven, or six with second-row captain’s chairs.
When both rows of rear seats are folded down, the Explorer has 87.8 cu ft of space, and the Telluride gets a nearly identical 87 cu ft. When these seats are upright, however, the Telluride offers 21 cu ft of space, which is 15% more than the Explorer’s 18.2 cu ft of space. These 3 cu ft of extra space in the Telluride is rather advantageous and makes the Explorer’s 0.8 cu ft of maximum space completely irrelevant. You’ll have an easier time fitting extra cargo whilst transporting a full cabin of passengers with the Telluride over the Explorer.
When comparing the infotainment centers, the general set up is practically identical for both vehicles. An 8-inch display comes standard with both the Kia Telluride and the Ford Explorer, with each offering an available 10-inch display upgrade. USB ports are present in both interiors, but critics have noted that the Explorer only comes standard with a single USB port, compared to the five that come standard with the Telluride. These extra USB ports on the Telluride allow all of your passengers to keep their electronics charged no matter where you are going.
Both vehicles come standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Ever since the initial release of CarPlay and Auto in 2014 and 2015 respectively, manufacturers have set out on a mission to integrate both software suites into as many lineups as possible. With the Telluride being a newer model, it makes perfect sense to include CarPlay and Auto. The Explorer first integrated CarPlay and Auto back in 2017, and both software suites soared in popularity. There are many reasons as to why you would benefit from CarPlay or Auto with your next SUV.
For starters, all you need to get started is a wireless device such as an iPhone 5 or better to access CarPlay, and a compatible Android phone to access Auto. Once connected, using your infotainment center becomes a whole new experience. Thanks to the integration of Apple CarPlay, you can send text messages and make phone calls without requiring the phone in your hand ever again. In addition to this, you’ll have complete access to your favorite personal music playlists and audiobooks. CarPlay and Auto also grant you access to your phone’s navigational maps for turn-by-turn navigation made easy.
By simply using your voice, you may activate your virtual assistant, whether it be Siri or Google Assistant, and ask questions, set reminders, and more. Both CarPlay and Auto provide app stores provided by Apple and Google, respectively. In these app stores, you may download even more features for your infotainment centers throughout a catalog of unique and exciting apps. Simply put, infotainment centers, along with the integrations of CarPlay and Auto, have revolutionized the way we all stay connected when on the open road. Once you experience a robust infotainment center, there’s no going back.
Choosing Your SUV
The competition is certainly a fierce one between the 2020 Explorer and the 2021 Telluride. Despite the Telluride’s aforementioned shorter time on the market, Kia has made great progress in catching up with the competition. The Explorer and Telluride are very similar in many ways, including base-level performance and a robust and tech-centric feature set. However, where the Explorer falls short, the Telluride picks up the slack.
With more seating and very similar performance, coupled with plenty of connectivity features, the Telluride is an intriguing package. The lower price of the Telluride ultimately makes it a better choice between the two when considering everything. Visiting your local Kia dealership and taking a test drive is the best way to learn more about how the Telluride can change your life.