Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

The 2021 Hyundai Palisade.

Photography by MARK RICHARDSON/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

The Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride are almost identical twins from the same parents – both makers are owned by Korea’s Hyundai Motor Group, and while the two manufacturers operate separately, they share the considerable expense of research and development.

Both these top-of-the-range SUVs have room for up to eight people in three rows, and both are built on the same platforms with the same engines and transmissions. And yet, it’s the Telluride that’s won the major awards. Last year, it was named World Car of the Year, North American Utility Vehicle of the Year and Best Large Utility Vehicle in Canada. The Palisade was shut out. What gives?

The 2021 Kia Telluride.

I’m a judge for two of those juries and I gave the two vehicles almost identical votes, with the difference coming down to styling. To my mind, the Kia looks a little better from the outside with its flatter grille and higher-mounted headlights while the Hyundai is a little more refined in its cabin.

Story continues below advertisement

Realistically, the differences come down to the cost of their options, and what’s available as standard with which trim packages. The Hyundai has a much lower base price than the Kia, but the base Kia offers more standard features to justify this. For this comparison, I drove the top-end versions of each, the Telluride Nightsky and the Palisade Ultimate Calligraphy, where the makers basically threw in everything but the kitchen sink because buyers don’t want to have to choose. That made the comparison even more challenging.

Tech specs

2021 Kia Telluride

Base price/As tested: $46,195 / $55,695, plus $1,895 Freight and PDI

Engine: 3.8-litre V6

Transmission/Drive: 8-speed automatic / AWD

Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 12.6 City, 9.7 Hwy., 11.3 Comb

2021 Hyundai Palisade

Base price/As tested: $39,199/ $54,899, plus $1,925 Freight and PDI

Engine: 3.8-litre V6

Story continues below advertisement

Transmission/Drive: 8-speed automatic / AWD

Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 12.3 City, 9.6 Hwy., 11.1 Comb.

Looks

The chassis may be the same but the bodywork of these two vehicles is quite different. Aside from the cavernous grille of the Palisade and the cool orange daytime running lights of the Telluride, there’s a more angled slope to the rear hatch of the Telluride that takes away from its boxiness. As well, the windows of the third row are more forward in the Kia, which makes it all seem a little more integrated. My money’s on the Telluride, but your money is your own.

Interior

Inside, the two cabins are also quite different. I prefer the Palisade, which has a smoothly integrated central touch screen and push buttons for the transmission. As well, the fully-loaded “Calligraphy” tester included a classy digital gauge cluster that’s not available on the Telluride, but it’s an option only with the most costly trim level.

Top: The Palisade features diamond-shaped stitching in the leather on its doors. Bottom: The Telluride offers extra cubby space in the centre console, but everything’s a little more busy.

The whole effect seems simpler and more airy with the Palisade, which also features diamond-shaped stitching in the leather on its doors. In contrast, the Kia feels a little chunkier. I like the extra cubby space it offers in the centre console, as well as the grips on each of the console’s sides, but everything’s a little more busy and the drive itself seemed noisier. Drivers of these vehicles, with seats for all those kids in the back, probably need all the relaxation they can get.

Performance

There’s no real difference between the two. They’re powered by the same 3.8-litre V6 that produces 291 hp and 262 lbs.-ft. of torque, which is fine. Not generous, but fine. It’s matched to an 8-speed automatic transmission that you won’t notice or even think about, so the push-button controls are well-suited – just press D and forget it.

Story continues below advertisement

All this said, the powertrains and drivetrains are individually tuned by the two companies’ engineers, so they’re not quite identical. If anything, the Kia feels a little more sporty, perhaps firmer on its springs than the Hyundai, but there’s not much in it. Press the Sport option on the electronic driving modes and both vehicles drop a gear and seem a bit more powerful; I drove the Telluride mostly in Sport, while I left the Palisade mostly in Comfort.

Perhaps this is why the Telluride has a slightly less efficient fuel consumption rating than the Palisade, ranked by the Canadian government at an average consumption of 11.3 L/100 km compared to 11.1. Highway consumption is almost the same, but it’s the more thirsty city consumption that makes the difference. For some reason, Kia doesn’t disclose a curb weight for the Telluride’s high-end SX Limited or Nightsky editions, to compare it to the Hyundai’s curb weight of 2,022 kg. Carry an extra passenger or hockey bag and this all becomes moot, anyway.

Technology

The Palisade has a smoothly integrated central touch screen and push buttons for the transmission.

These two testers’ fully-loaded editions featured all the technology that’s available, and it’s all shared between the vehicles. Semi-autonomous driving that stays on for up to three minutes without touching the wheel or pedals? Check. Doors that won’t open when parked if there’s a cyclist coming up from behind on that side? Check. A colourful heads-up display that disappears as soon as you put on your polarized sunglasses? Check.

The key question, if you’re one of the 90 per cent of buyers who choose a lower trim level, is to compare exactly what you want and what you’ll get for your money. For example, let’s say you prefer captains’ chairs in the second row like in these testers – they’re more comfortable but cut the capacity down to seven people instead of eight (and also help separate quarrelling siblings). With the Kia, you’ll have to pay at least $54,695 for the Telluride SX Limited, but they’re just a $500 option on the $50,399 Palisade Luxury. That sort of thing. It’s your money, so be ruthless.

Cargo

The total cargo space is about the same when you start folding the seats flat, but the Telluride wins the prize for space behind the third row.

You can buy larger SUVs and minivans, but there’s a lot of space inside both these vehicles. The total cargo space is about the same when you start folding the seats flat (about 1,300 litres behind the second row, and almost 2,450 litres behind the first row), but the Telluride wins the prize for space behind the third row: 601 litres compared to 509 in the Palisade. This also suggests there’s even less room for the kids in the Telluride’s already cramped third row.

Verdict

Both vehicles will give you what you want for a three-row SUV, and if you believe the awards judges, the Telluride is the better choice. But take it from this awards judge: the Palisade is a little more refined and a little more comfortable, and may well give you the better value for money.

Story continues below advertisement

Shopping for a new car? Check out the new Globe Drive Build and Price Tool to see the latest discounts, rebates and rates on new cars, trucks and SUVs. Click here to get your price.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies