2019 Lexus RXL vs. 2020 Kia Telluride

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front and middle seat shoulder belts of the Lexus RXL have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Kia Telluride doesn’t offer pretensioners for the middle seat belts.

The RXL has standard Active Headrests, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Headrests system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Telluride doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The RXL offers optional Auto Brake that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Telluride doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

Both the RXL and the Telluride have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the RXL the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 104 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Telluride has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

The RXL’s corrosion warranty is 1 year and unlimited miles longer than the Telluride’s (6/unlimited vs. 5/100,000).

Reliability

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the RXL’s reliability 18 points higher than the Telluride.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the RXL second among midsize premium SUVs in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The Telluride isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Kia vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus first in reliability, above the industry average. With 20 more problems per 100 vehicles, Kia is ranked 10th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Kia vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Lexus first in reliability. Kia is ranked fifth.

Engine

The RX 450hL’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6 hybrid produces 17 more horsepower (308 vs. 291) than the Telluride’s 3.8 DOHC V6.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the RX 450hL gets better fuel mileage than the Telluride 4WD (29 city/28 hwy vs. 19 city/24 hwy).

Regenerative brakes improve the RXL Hybrid’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Telluride doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the RXL Hybrid’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Telluride doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Transmission

The RX 450hL has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The Telluride doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

The RXL’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Telluride are solid, not vented.

Suspension and Handling

The RXL offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The Telluride’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For greater off-road capability the RXL has a greater minimum ground clearance than the Telluride (8.2 vs. 8 inches), allowing the RXL to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Chassis

To almost totally eliminate engine vibration in the passenger area, the RXL has an electronically controlled liquid-filled front engine mount. A computer-controlled electric current in the liquid changes its viscosity, allowing the mount to dampen the engine completely at all RPMs. The Telluride uses conventional solid rubber engine mounts.

Cargo Capacity

The RXL has a standard third row seat which folds flat into the floor. This completely clears a very large cargo area quickly. The Telluride doesn’t offer seats that fold into the floor.

Both the RXL and the Telluride offer second row automatic folding seats. The RXL’s third row seats also fold up or down at the press of a button. The Telluride doesn’t offer automatic folding third row seats.

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Lexus service is better than Kia. J.D. Power ranks Lexus second in service department satisfaction. With a 56% lower rating, Kia is ranked 20th.

Ergonomics

If the windows are left open on the RXL the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Telluride can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The RXL’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Telluride’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The RXL offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Telluride doesn’t offer headlight washers.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the RXL offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Telluride doesn’t offer cornering lights. The RXL also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

The RXL offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Telluride offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The RXL has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the Telluride EX/SX.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Lexus RXL and the Kia Telluride, based on reliability, safety and performance.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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