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Best in Class Crossover SUVs: The 2021 Kia Telluride vs. The 2021 Honda Pilot

A black 2021 Kia Telluride is parked on dirt surrounded by rock formations after winning the 2021 Kia Telluride vs 2021 Honda Pilot comparison.

Drivers looking for the spaciousness and comfort of a minivan with the sleek style of an SUV do not have to look any further than two of the most popular crossovers on the market—the Kia Telluride and the Honda Pilot. Both Kia and Honda are well-known for producing reliable vehicles packed with comfort, the latest technology, and exceptional safety features. That makes the competition even fiercer when we pit these two third-row crossovers against one another in this showdown of the 2021 Kia Telluride vs 2021 Honda Pilot.

2021 Kia Telluride Trims

The 2021 Telluride comes in four trims with both all-wheel drive and front-wheel drive options. The LX base trim starts at $31,990 and features a 3.8-liter V6 engine, synthetic leather seats, and three-row seating for up to eight passengers. The LX offers outstanding innovation and safety technology. It includes an 8-inch touchscreen display with rear camera, smart cruise control, auto emergency braking, and one-touch sliding and folding second-row seats.

The Telluride S starts at $34,390 and features upgrades like heated front seats, a power sunroof, roof rails, and seating for seven with second-row captain’s chairs. It includes the same 8-inch touchscreen display with a rear camera as the LX but ups the game with no fewer than six USB ports so that all of your passengers can keep their devices charged. The safety technology on the S mirrors that on the LX and includes auto emergency braking, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assist, safe exit assist, and rear occupant alert.

The Telluride EX starts at $37,390 and offers even more luxury with leather seating for seven or eight passengers, heated and ventilated front power seats, and LED taillights. The EX includes enhanced comfort and technology features beginning with a 10.25-inch display that features UVO link with enhanced navigation features. It also features a smart power liftgate, power-fold mirrors, automatic dual-zone automatic climate control, and a wireless charging station.

The SX, which starts at $42,190, is the top trim and features dual sunroofs, leather seats, and full LED exterior lighting. The SX includes the same 10.25-inch display and wireless charging station as the EX, but the similarities end there. The SX features a Harman Kardon 10-speaker premium audio system, a surround-view system, a 7-inch LCD display in the instrument cluster, second-row sunshades, and front power seats with driver memory.

A silver 2021 Kia Telluride is parked overlooking a view of rock formations.

2021 Honda Pilot Trim Packages

Honda offers six trims for the 2021 Honda Pilot that, like the Telluride, include both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive options. The LX is the Pilot’s base trim and starts at $32,250. It features the standard 3.5-liter V6 engine, the Honda Sensing safety suite, a multi-angle rearview camera, and seating for eight. Other features include LED daytime running lights and low-beam headlights, hill start assist, and push-button start. However, the infotainment is a limited 5-inch screen that lacks any form of smartphone integration.

The EX starts at $34,930 and includes everything the LX offers as well as other comfort, technology, and safety features. The EX offers Intelligent Traction Management, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, and one-touch second-row seats that make access to the third row even easier. The EX also includes an 8-inch high-resolution touchscreen display, remote engine start, tri-zone automatic climate control, and heated front seats.

For drivers looking for luxury and comfort without spending a fortune, the Pilot EX-L is an outstanding option. It starts at $38,360 and includes leather-trimmed seats, a one-touch power moonroof, and a power tailgate. It also features two-position memory for the driver’s seat, a four-way power passenger seat, and an automatic dimming rearview mirror.

The Pilot’s Special Edition trim is new for 2021 and starts at $38,960. Built with many of the same features as the EX-L, the SE steps up its game with a few more features. It includes 20-inch black wheels and black exterior elements as well as a hands-free, foot-activated power tailgate.

The Pilot Touring offers additional premium features with a starting MSRP of $42,920. This package includes a rear entertainment system, heated front and rear seats, LED automatic headlights, and a 590-watt premium audio system. It also comes standard with a hands-free access power tailgate, Wi-Fi hotspot capability, roof rails, and the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System.

The Pilot Elite is the top of its class and starts at $48,420. It features a panoramic sunroof, second-row captain’s chairs, a heated steering wheel, and heated and ventilated front seats. Other features include multi-zone audio, rain-sensing windshield wipers, illuminated front and second-row beverage holders, and multi-zone audio.

A blue 2021 Honda Pilot is parked next to a rocky beach with a surf board on the roof.

The Big Differences

Honda and Kia both offer a lot in terms of trims and features for the Pilot and Telluride. Honda offers six options, with prices ranging from $32,250 to $48,420. Kia offers four Telluride trims priced between $31,990 to $42,190. So choosing the Telluride will save you some money upfront. But how do these prices compare to the other significant differences between the two crossover SUVs?

First, let’s talk about engines and performance. The 2021 Kia Telluride comes standard with a 3.8-liter V6 direct-injection engine that produces 291 hp at 6,000 rpm and 262 lb-ft of torque at 5,200 rpm. The Telluride engine is slightly more powerful than the 2021 Honda Pilot’s 3.5-liter V6 direct-injection engine that produces 280 hp at 6,000 rpm and 262 lb-fit of torque at 4,700 rpm. But raw power isn’t the only advantage the Telluride has over the Pilot.

In terms of space and cargo capacity, the Telluride comes out ahead with more interior room for passengers and cargo. It boasts 178.1 cubic feet of passenger space and up to 87 cubic feet of cargo room, while the Pilot offers 152.9 cubic feet of passenger space and up to 83.9 cubic feet of cargo room. While the difference isn’t drastic, it’s especially noticeable since only the higher-end Pilot trim packages feature automatic second-row folding seats like the Telluride.

The last notable difference is between the Kia and Honda warranty options, which is significant to drivers looking for greater peace of mind on the road. The Telluride comes standard with a 5-year or 60,000-mile basic warranty that includes 24-hour roadside assistance. In contrast, the Pilot only offers a 3-year or 36,000-mile basic warranty. The powertrain warranty options also put the Telluride ahead of the game with full coverage for 10 years or 100,000 miles compared to the Pilot’s 5-year or 60,000-mile coverage.

Making a Tough Call

There’s no question that Honda boasts a strong reputation for building reliable cars, and that continues to hold true for the 2021 Honda Pilot. However, the 2021 Kia Telluride is undoubtedly giving the Pilot a run for its money. While both the Telluride and Pilot offer outstanding safety and technology features across many trim packages, the Telluride has some noticeable advantages when it comes to performance, design, comfort, and warranty options. And to top it off, the Telluride is also the more affordable of the two options. Either way, it’s a tough call as you narrow down your choices and select what offers you the most peace of mind on the road.

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