(The Car Connection) — For the third year in a row, the Kia Telluride wins The Car Connection’s Best Family Car To Buy 2023.
No stranger on the winner’s podium, the handsome three-row SUV won our top overall Best Car To Buy 2020 award when it was new that year, and its winning formula of macho looks, family room spaciousness, and premium grade features at a mainstream value continue to lead the pack.
This year, we condensed our segment ratings from more than a dozen categories down to five to better reflect how shoppers search. To qualify for our Best Family Car To Buy 2023, the vehicle must have three functional rows of seats and start under $50,000. The 2023 Kia Telluride earned a TCC Rating of 7.2 out of 10, same as the impressive 2023 Acura MDX, but it fits a more family-friendly budget. (Read more about how we rate cars.) The related Hyundai Palisade comes up just short, and for those in the family way that prefer minivans and their sliding doors over more stylish crossover SUVs, the 2023 Kia Carnival enchants with its SUV style and similarly loaded feature set, and the 2023 Chrysler Pacifica continues to impress with its available all-wheel-drive or plug-in hybrid options.
The 2023 Telluride’s total package takes the crown, however. With its truck-like blockiness and broad, vertical face, it’ll never be derided as a minivan substitute (even though it is). The mid-cycle refresh leans into Range Rover and GMC Denali elements, and new X-Line and X-Pro trims cash in on the trend of off-road looks (X-Line) with some off-road capability (X-Pro). Kia spruced up the spacious cabin with a new steering wheel design and a standard 12.3-inch touchscreen beside a similarly-sized digital instrument cluster.
Synthetic leather covers up to eight seats, but most Telluride shoppers will opt for second-row captain’s chairs. Its attractive shape limits its interior functionality compared to a minivan, but not by much. Wide-swinging rear doors give way to easy-access third-row seats that could transport two adults of reasonable size over a reasonable distance. Available power-fold seats in the wayback open up to 46.0 cubic feet of space when folded down, but the higher ride height—especially on X-badged models—results in a higher load floor that might be harder for the four-legged family member to get into than in a minivan.
Skipping over the $37,000 base model, the $42,625 Telluride EX hits the sweet spot with heated leather seats up front, a power tailgate, and other niceties. The top SX Prestige exceeds $50,000 but adds nappa leather and the kind of fit and finish that would make Cadillac blush.
All Tellurides excel on peace of mind, with a 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and top safety ratings due in part to standard driver-assist systems such as automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, and adaptive cruise control.
All-wheel drive costs $2,000 extra on all except the X models, where it is standard. Those grades ride about an inch higher, and have better approach and departure angles for off-roading, and the all-wheel-drive system has a center locking differential to balance torque between the axles. Only one powertrain exists, a 291-hp 3.8-liter V-6 with an 8-speed automatic transmission, and it can’t keep up with stronger, more expensive powertrains in competitors from the Ford Explorer Sport to the Acura MDX Type S. Still, the Telluride exhibits excellent composure over bumpy pavement and it’s serene at speed, too, thanks to terrific sound deadening and excellent straight-line stability.
The 2023 Kia Telluride is a sweet ride in a way unmatched by most other family vehicles.
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Read about the other winners of The Car Connection’s Best Car To Buy 2023 awards, and find out which vehicles took home top honors from our sister sites, Motor Authority and Green Car Reports.