2020 Kia Telluride vs. 2019 Toyota Highlander

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

Both the Telluride and Highlander 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 Highlander’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 Highlander doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

Compared to metal, the Telluride’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Toyota Highlander has a metal gas tank.

Both the Telluride and the Highlander 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, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, driver alert monitors, available all wheel drive and around view monitors.

Warranty

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 Highlander’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 24,000 miles sooner.

Kia’s powertrain warranty covers the Telluride 5 years and 40,000 miles longer than Toyota covers the Highlander. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Highlander ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

Reliability

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Telluride has a standard 800-amp battery. The Highlander’s 604-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

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 Toyota vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 24 more problems per 100 vehicles, Toyota is ranked 17th, below the industry average.

Engine

The Telluride’s 3.8 DOHC V6 produces 106 more horsepower (291 vs. 185) and 78 lbs.-ft. more torque (262 vs. 184) than the Highlander’s standard 2.7 DOHC 4 cyl.

Brakes and Stopping

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

Telluride

Highlander

Front Rotors

13.4 inches

12.9 inches

The Telluride stops much shorter than the Highlander:

Telluride

Highlander

70 to 0 MPH

162 feet

186 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

The Telluride S/SX’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Highlander SE/Limited/Platinum’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Telluride S/SX has standard 20-inch wheels. The Highlander’s largest wheels are only 19-inches.

Suspension and Handling

The Telluride has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Highlander’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

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

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Telluride’s wheelbase is 4.4 inches longer than on the Highlander (114.2 inches vs. 109.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Telluride is 2.8 inches wider in the front and 3.4 inches wider in the rear than on the Highlander.

The Telluride SX 4x4 handles at .81 G’s, while the Highlander AWD pulls only .80 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Passenger Space

The Telluride has 10.1 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Highlander (155 vs. 144.9).

The Telluride has .2 inches more front headroom, 1.7 inches more front hip room, 2.3 inches more front shoulder room, .3 inches more rear headroom, 4 inches more rear legroom, .9 inches more rear hip room, 1.6 inches more rear shoulder room, 2.2 inches more third row headroom, 3.7 inches more third row legroom and .3 inches more third row shoulder room than the Highlander.

Cargo Capacity

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

Telluride

Highlander

Behind Third Seat

21 cubic feet

13.8 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

46 cubic feet

42.3 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

87 cubic feet

83.7 cubic feet

The Telluride’s cargo area is larger than the Highlander’s in almost every dimension:

Telluride

Highlander

Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)

20.4”/49.8”/83.8”

17.5”/43”/80”

Max Width

54.4”

56”

Min Width

43.5”

45.6”

Height

34.5”

32.6”

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

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

Towing

The Telluride’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Highlander’s (5000 vs. 1500 pounds).

Servicing Ease

The Telluride uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Highlander uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

Ergonomics

The Telluride offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Highlander doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The power windows standard on both the Telluride and the Highlander 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 Highlander prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The Telluride’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Highlander’s standard rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

When the Telluride SX is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Highlander’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

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 Highlander doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats for the second row.

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

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