The Telluride and the Sorento are both popular SUVs in Kia’s vehicle lineup. The Kia Sorento debuted in 2002, and its 2021 model is an all-new, next-generation model that marks the start of Sorento’s fourth generation on the mainstream auto market. Kia’s Telluride SUV, on the other hand, is a new model that debuted in the United States for the 2020 model year and is still within its first-generation for the 2021 model year.
Both the Kia Telluride and the Kia Sorento are mid-size, three-row crossover SUVs that are very family-friendly. The Sorento and the Telluride are versatile vehicles, and they are also very similar models—which means it can be difficult for drivers in the market for a mid-size, three-row SUV to choose between them.
If you are in the market for a family-friendly mid-size SUV like the Kia Telluride or the Kia Sorento, keep reading for a breakdown of the similarities and differences between these two models and how they measure up to each other in all the ways that count the most.
Powertrain availability differs significantly between the 2021 Kia Telluride and the 2021 Kia Sorento—the Telluride is available with just one engine option while the Sorento comes with three different engine options.
The 2021 Kia Telluride comes equipped with a 3.8-L V6 engine that delivers 291 horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque. The 2021 Kia Sorento is available with either a 191-horsepower 2.5-L I-4 engine that provides 181 lb.-ft. of torque; a 281-horsepower 2.5-L turbocharged I-4 engine that offers 311 lb.-ft. of torque; or a 227-horsepower 1.6-L turbocharged I-4 hybrid engine that delivers 258 lb.-ft. of torque on the road.
Both the 2021 Telluride and the 2021 Sorento models pair with a simple and smooth eight-speed automatic transmission—with the exception of the Sorento’s 2.5-L turbocharged engine option, which pairs with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
If you are in the market for a hybrid SUV or if you are someone who values a variety of options when it comes to the powertrain of your vehicle, you’d likely be better off
choosing the Kia Sorento. However, if you prefer to keep things simple and are happy with a powerful V6 engine, the 2021 Telluride might be the right option for you.
In terms of towing capacity, the 2021 Sorento’s maximum towing capacity is just 3,500 lbs. even when equipped with a turbocharged engine and add-on towing package. Every 2021 Telluride model, on the other hand, can tow up to 5,000 pounds at a time.
Not everyone who is shopping for a mid-size SUV cares about their next vehicle’s towing capacity. If you are in the market for an SUV with a high towing capacity, however, your best option is the 2021 Kia Telluride.
The fuel efficiency of the 2021 Kia Sorento beats that of the 2021 Kia Telluride by several MPG. The 2021 Telluride gets up to just 20 MPG on city streets and 26 MPG on the highway for a combined average fuel economy of 23 MPG.
On the other hand, the 2021 Sorento reaches up to 24 MPG on city streets and 29 MPG on the highway with its base engine; 22 MPG on city streets and 29 MPG on the highway with its turbocharged engine; and an ultra-impressive 39 MPG in the city and 35 MPG on the highway when equipped with its turbocharged hybrid engine.
Room for Cargo and Passengers
Although both the 2021 Telluride and the 2021 Sorento are mid-size, three-row SUVs, the Kia Telluride offers more space for both passengers and cargo.
In fact, the 2021 Telluride seats up to 8 passengers because it seats three passengers in its third-row—whereas the 2021 Sorento only seats up to 7 passengers with its two-seat third row.
The Kia Telluride and the Kia Sorento offer the same amount of legroom in their first row—41.4 inches to be exact. The 2021 Telluride offers slightly more legroom in its second and third rows and more hip room in all three of its rows.
In terms of cargo space, the 2021 Kia Telluride also wins out over the 2021 Sorento. The Telluride offers a maximum of 87.0 cubic feet of cargo space when its second and third rows are folded, while the Sorento’s maximum amount of cargo space is 75.5 cubic feet even with both back rows of seats folded down.
In terms of affordability, the 2021 Kia Sorento is notably more affordable than the 2021 Kia Telluride.
Both the 2021 Sorento and the 2021 Telluride are available in three different trim levels. The base-model 2021 Sorento equipped with front-wheel drive has a starting price of $30,565, whereas the equivalent 2021 Telluride model costs a minimum of $33,415.
For a top-tier 2021 Sorento model equipped with an all-wheel drive, you’ll pay just $37,965. The equivalent 2021 Telluride model has a starting price of $40,815.
The bottom line is that there is no right answer to the question of whether you should purchase a 2021 Kia Sorento or a 2021 Kia Telluride. Both of these mid-size, three-row SUVs are high-performing, offer excellent value, and are ideal options for any family; which model you should purchase depends on your own driving needs, preferences, and what you value most in a car.