2020 Kia Telluride vs. 2019 Acura MDX

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Both the Telluride and MDX have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The Telluride has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The MDX’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

In the past twenty years hundreds of infants and young children have died after being left in vehicles, usually by accident. When turning the vehicle off, drivers of the Telluride are reminded to check the back seat when a sensor determines the back seat is occupied. The MDX doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

The Telluride’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The MDX doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Telluride and the MDX have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, 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 and around view monitors.


The Telluride comes with a full 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The MDX’s 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 10,000 miles sooner.

Kia’s powertrain warranty covers the Telluride 4 years and 30,000 miles longer than Acura covers the MDX. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the MDX ends after only 6 years or 70,000 miles.

There are almost 3 times as many Kia dealers as there are Acura dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Telluride’s warranty.


A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the Telluride’s engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the MDX’s camshafts. If the MDX’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Kia vehicles are better in initial quality than Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 27 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 20th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia 10th in reliability, above the industry average. With 45 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 26th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Acura vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia 8 places higher in reliability than Acura.

Fuel Economy and Range

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Kia Telluride uses regular unleaded gasoline. The MDX requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Telluride’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the MDX:



MDX Sport Hybrid

Front Rotors

13.4 inches

12.6 inches

13 inches

The Telluride stops much shorter than the MDX:



70 to 0 MPH

162 feet

185 feet

Car and Driver

Suspension and Handling

The Telluride has a standard automatic load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The MDX doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Telluride’s wheelbase is 3.2 inches longer than on the MDX (114.2 inches vs. 111 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Telluride is .9 inches wider in the front and 1.3 inches wider in the rear than on the MDX.

The Telluride’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (55.7% to 44.3%) than the MDX’s (57% to 43%). This gives the Telluride more stable handling and braking.

For greater off-road capability the Telluride has a greater minimum ground clearance than the MDX (8 vs. 7.3 inches), allowing the Telluride to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.


As tested by Car and Driver while under full throttle, the interior of the Telluride SX 4x4 is quieter than the MDX SH-AWD (75 vs. 76 dB).

Passenger Space

The Telluride has standard seating for 8 passengers; the MDX can only carry 7.

The Telluride has 22.3 cubic feet more passenger volume than the MDX (155 vs. 132.7).

The Telluride has 2.8 inches more front headroom, 2.7 inches more front legroom, 1.4 inches more front hip room, .5 inches more front shoulder room, 1.9 inches more rear headroom, 5.8 inches more rear legroom, .2 inches more rear hip room, 2.1 inches more rear shoulder room, 2.5 inches more third row headroom, 3.3 inches more third row legroom, 3.1 inches more third row hip room and .6 inches more third row shoulder room than the MDX.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Telluride’s middle and third row seats recline. The MDX’s third row seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

The Telluride’s cargo area provides more volume than the MDX.



Behind Third Seat

21 cubic feet

15.8 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

46 cubic feet

43.4 cubic feet

Pressing a switch automatically lowers the Telluride’s second row seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The MDX doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, just waiting momentarily behind the back bumper can open the Telluride’s liftgate, leaving your hands completely free. The MDX doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.


The Telluride’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the MDX’s (5000 vs. 3500 pounds).

While the MDX SH-AWD Sport Hybrid is not recommended to tow, any Telluride can tow a minimum of 5000 pounds.


The power windows standard on both the Telluride and the MDX have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Telluride is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The MDX prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Telluride has standard extendable sun visors. The MDX doesn’t offer extendable visors.

The Telluride EX/SX has standard front air-conditioned seats and the Telluride SX offers them optionally in the second row. This keeps the passengers comfortable and takes the sting out of hot seats in summer. The MDX doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats for the second row.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Kia Telluride EX/SX has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) for the front seat. The MDX doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

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

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