2021 Ford Explorer vs 2021 Kia Telluride

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  • 2021 Ford Explorer

    A dark grey 2021 Ford Explorer is angled left.

    Starting at


    2021 Kia Telluride

    A grey 2021 Kia Telluride is angled right.

    Starting at


    300-400Horsepower (HP)291
    310-415Torque (lb-ft)262
    27/28 Fuel Economy (city/highway)20/26

    There really has never been a better time to shop for an SUV since there are so many different sizes, styles, and models available. A midsize SUV is one of the best options out there for a lot of drivers, as it gives you plenty of space inside and lots of seating without going too large. With so many options available, however, it is often helpful to focus on just one or two models at a time to see which one gives you everything you need. Looking at the 2021 Ford Explorer vs 2021 Kia Telluride, for example, you can see that while both of them are great vehicles, the Explorer just gives you a lot more.

    Although the Kia Telluride has some good features overall, it simply cannot keep up with what the Explorer has to offer. For example, the Telluride has a single engine available that provides up to 291 hp. By comparison, you can choose from four different engines for the Ford Explorer, the starting option delivers up to 300 hp, and there are more powerful options available. There is even a V6 hybrid engine available for the 2021 Ford Explorer, which offers fantastic fuel economy and better performance than the Telluride. These kinds of comparisons continue across the board, with the Explorer giving you amazing features that the Kia model cannot match.

    Similarly, the Kia Telluride starts with a 3-inch digital driver display, and the highest trim features a 7-inch display for the driver. With the 2021 Ford Explorer, however, you get a 4-inch digital driver display standard, with most models featuring a 6-inch display and the highest trims have a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. Since you can find so many other fantastic interior features, in terms of both comfort and technology, along with amazing safety systems standard and available with the Ford Explorer, it becomes quite clear that it is the best choice.

  • Performance

    A green 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline edition is off-roading in the desert with gear on the roof.

    When looking at midsize SUVs, it is very important that you choose one with a powerful and impressive engine. Since midsize models can still be pretty large – both of these have three rows of seating – you want an engine that puts out enough power to make it fun to drive. It seems almost unfair to compare the engines in these two models since the Ford Explorer has so much to offer, but if you are going to make an informed decision when shopping for a vehicle, then you need to know what you can get.

    Under the Hood of the Telluride

    We will start with the 2021 Kia Telluride since it does not have a lot to offer. There is a single engine available for the Telluride: a 3.8L DOHC V6 that provides 291 hp and up to 262 lb-ft of torque. This engine comes paired with an electronically-controlled 8-speed automatic transmission, and there is a Sportmatic sports shifter to give you some control when you want it. Overall, this engine is fine – it works, but it is certainly nothing flashy.

    Under the Hood of the Explorer

    The 2021 Ford Explorer, on the other hand, has clearly been designed by people that want to make their midsize SUV as fun to drive as possible while giving you great options. There are four different engines to choose from here, starting with a 2.3L EcoBoost I-4 engine that offers 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. As you can see, the starting engine in the Explorer is already better than what the Telluride has to offer – all four engines for the Ford come paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission for an even smoother ride.

    There is also a 3.0L EcoBoost V6 engine available, which provides 365 hp and up to 380 lb-ft of torque for impressive performance. If you want maximum power, then you can choose an Enhanced 3.0L EcoBoost V6 that has been tuned by the Ford Performance team to deliver 400 hp and up to 415 lb-ft of torque. For great performance and excellent fuel efficiency, you can choose a 3.3L V6 Hybrid engine that generates 318 hp and 322 lb-ft of torque. This kind of freedom to get what you want is far beyond what the Telluride has to offer, plus you get more power no matter which engine you choose in the Ford Explorer.

  • Fuel Economy

    A silver 2021 Ford Explorer is driving on a dirt path past mountains after winning the 2021 Ford Explorer vs 2021 Kia Telluride comparison.

    One of the major concerns a lot of drivers have when looking at any sort of SUV is what kind of fuel efficiency it has to offer. Fortunately, fuel economy in SUVs has improved much over the last couple of decades, and a midsize model is a terrific choice for a balance of spacious interior and impressive fuel economy. Both of these vehicles have two-wheel drive and all-wheel drive available, but to keep things simple, we will compare their two-wheel drive options – you lose some fuel efficiency with all-wheel drive, but they remain comparable to each other.

    How Far the Telluride and Explorer Can Go

    The 2021 Kia Telluride has a single engine available, so it is easy to look at what kind of fuel economy it can offer. This engine gives the Telluride an estimated 20 MPG in the city, 26 MPG on the highway, and 23 MPG combined fuel efficiency. The standard engine for the 2021 Ford Explorer gets an estimated 21 MPG in the city, 28 MPG on the highway, and 24 MPG combined fuel economy – so it starts off better than the Telluride.

    There are three other engines available for the Ford Explorer, with pretty similar fuel economy overall. The major exception here, however, is that you can choose a hybrid engine for the Explorer, which gives you an estimated 27 MPG in the city, 28 MPG on the highway, and 27 MPG combined fuel efficiency. As you can see, that really blows away the fuel economy of the Telluride, especially if you do a lot of city driving. The lack of an available hybrid engine in the Telluride not only gives you fewer options but means that it simply cannot keep up with the 2021 Ford Explorer in terms of optimal fuel economy.

  • Features

    The brown interior of a 2021 Ford Explorer is shown.

    Inside the 2021 Ford Explorer and 2021 Kia Telluride, you can find a lot of similar features and options, which is not too surprising. However, there are a number of key differences that really showcase how much more you get in the Explorer, both in terms of standard features and what is available. Let us take a quick look at some of these things inside the starting and higher trims of both models.


    The Ford Explorer comes with an 8-inch infotainment display standard, with a 6-speaker sound system, and a B&O 12-speaker premium sound system is standard on most of the higher trims with a 14-speaker B&O system and 10.1-inch infotainment display available. You get tri-zone automatic temperature control with auxiliary rear controls standard on every model, along with a 4-inch digital driver screen in the starting trim, a 6-inch driver display on some higher trims, and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster on the two highest trims. The Ford Explorer also features steering wheel-mounted controls standard, along with an available auto-dimming rearview mirror that is standard on most of the higher trims.

    By comparison, the 2021 Kia Telluride has an 8-inch infotainment display standard with a 6-speaker sound system; a Harman Kardon 10-speaker sound system and 10.25-inch infotainment display come with the highest trim. Air conditioning is standard on the Telluride, with dual-zone automatic temperature control offered on higher trims, which falls short of the Ford Explorer’s standard tri-zone temperature control. A 3-inch digital driver display is standard, while the highest trim gets a nicer 7-inch supervision meter cluster that is better but still fails to meet what the Explorer has to offer. Overall, the interior of the Kia Telluride is fine with some nice options, but you can get a number of better features standard and available on the Explorer.

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