It’s no secret that the 2021 Kia Telluride and 2021 Hyundai Palisade are mechanically identical. Both are on the same platform, they use a 3.8-liter V6 with 291 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque, and they have an eight-speed automatic transmission. Even their optional AWD drive systems are eerily similar with the only difference being the availability of hill descent control on the Palisade. These similarities, however, don’t mean that they drive alike. In fact, that’s far from the truth because the Telluride and Palisade each have a unique character, something that Hyundai Motor Group has mastered making and is in full showing with these two three-row SUVs. With that said, let’s run down what makes the two siblings different from each other.
2021 Kia Telluride and 2021 Hyundai Palisade: Different Features
Those looking to get the most tech and convenience out of their three-row crossover should take a look at the 2021 Kia Telluride and the 2021 Hyundai Palisade. However, the latter distinguishes itself by adding a little more pizzazz and creature comforts. On higher trims of the Palisade, you get four-way lumbar support for the driver’s seat, a power-folding third-row, and a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. The range-topping Calligraphy model takes things up a notch with quilted door inserts to match Nappa leather upholstery and a microfiber headliner. While the Telluride misses out on all of those above, it still gets similar features plus automatic up/down front and rear windows, and power-folding side mirrors, the latter two you can’t get on the Palisade.
The Kia has slightly more cargo capacity at 21 cubic feet with all seats up, 46 cubic feet with the third row down, and 87 cubic feet with the second and third rows dropped. In comparison, the Palisade has 18 cubic feet with all seats up, 45.8 cubic feet with the third row down, and 86.4 cubic feet with the second and third rows down. The available Harman Kardon surround sound system has 12 speakers in the Palisade whereas the one in the Telluride only has 10. Surprisingly, the version in the Telluride is more immersive and covers the cabin better, giving you a better listening experience.
2021 Kia Telluride and 2021 Hyundai Palisade: Distinct Road Manners
Overall vehicle calibration shows just how different the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade are on the road despite having nearly identical bits under the skin. The Palisade exudes a chill, relaxed character. It’s confident and composed, resulting in a calming driving experience. Good body control means it doesn’t wobble, pitch, or dive excessively while the accurate steering makes placing this behemoth on the road easier. The suspension does a great job isolating the passenger compartment but it’s also where the first big distinction lies. Impact harshness is more noticeable in the Palisade, especially over expansion joints and potholes. You feel them a little more in the Hyundai versus the Telluride, which has a tendency to glide over and flatten everything it goes over. Surprisingly, you don’t sacrifice handling in the Kia because it’s just as confident on the road, if not more so than its cousin.
In our testing, both the Telluride and Palisade took similar times to get to 60 mph. Not surprising considering they have the same engine and transmission. The tuning, on the other hand, couldn’t be more different in daily driving. You get a more laid-back vibe from the Palisade because it tends to accelerate in a manner that’s less assertive. It’s not lazy; the engine and transmission are calibrated more for cruising than sporting intentions. The downside is that outside of Sport mode, the gearbox isn’t as quick to respond when you put your foot down. This is especially apparent when you ask for extra passing power at highway speeds where it takes a second before downshifting. The Kia, on the other hand, is quicker to drop gears in every drive mode and is more willing to rev out. As a result, the Telluride feels more energetic than the Palisade.
2021 Kia Telluride and 2021 Hyundai Palisade: No Wrong Option
Regardless of which Korean battleship you choose, you’re not making the wrong choice. Both are at the top of the three-row crossover segment for good reason: they punch above their weight and proved that you can have your cake and eat it too. What it will all come down to is choice and whether you want or don’t want a specific feature the other doesn’t have. The 2021 Kia Telluride is your pick if you’re looking for something with a slight sporting edge and a boxier, more conventional but still attractive exterior. Get the 2021 Hyundai Palisade if a relaxed demeanor is more your style and you want the tech and convenience features that the Telluride doesn’t have.
Any way you slice it, you’re getting a lot for the money with the Telluride and Palisade. These two rigs blend space, luxury, creature comforts, great road manners, and the latest in multimedia and driver assistance tech. No, they’re not the cheapest in their segments because our test cars checked in at $49,070 and $50,180 for the Palisade and Telluride respectively. When you consider the amount of content and ignore all of the cosmetic extras, they become incredible value plays packed with so much substance that they end up crossing over to the next class up.
Beware of markups if you’re in the market for either vehicle. Both the Telluride and Palisade have been marked up by dealers because of high demand, particularly the 2021 Kia Telluride. If you must have one or the other, shop wisely. Don’t let dealers fool you into thinking that the so-called “market adjustments” are worth it (they’re not). Find a dealer that’s willing to sell you either one at MSRP and will work with you without sending you in circles or make excuses to force you to pay more. Should you be able to do that and get your Telluride or Palisade at sticker price (or lower if you get really lucky), you’ll have one of the most sought-after crossovers on the market and a family hauler that will give you more than what you bargained for.