don't count kia out

Toyota Land Cruiser Too Pricey for You? Buy a Kia Telluride Instead

October 18, 2019 Cars By
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There are three distinctive features about the Toyota Land Cruiser: its venerable name, its size — and its bloated price tag pushing $90,000. Some might say the present model is living off its past glories. Even if the Toyota’s off-roading prowess and legendary build quality can justify the expense, the high price pushes out the mere mortals who would use a Land Cruiser as it was intended to be driven. Drivers may fantasize about overlanding across America in it, but for most buyers, it’s just a robust and stylish family hauler.

Buyers looking for that function at a more affordable price should consider a South Korean soft-roader: the Kia Telluride. The Telluride starts at just $31,690, a little over one-third the cost of a Land Cruiser. You can lux it up with high-end trims and materials, and it will still cost less than $50,000. Sure, the cheaper Telluride won’t match the Land Cruiser for off-pavement utility. But let’s get real: we’re talking about grocery runs and campsite visits, not traversing the Serengeti. The Telluride can hold its own on the tasks that matter.


If you remove the nameplates, the Telluride is the better-looking car. It has a sleek, modern exterior and a clean, luxurious interior. It points forward to the 2020s — while the Land Cruiser harkens back to the 2000s, the last time Toyota fully updated it. The Telluride is also rough-and-tumble enough for some mild off-roading modifications if you want to go that route.


The Telluride keeps up there, too. Kia offers a spacious cabin with wide doors. There’s more cargo space than the Land Cruiser, with a potential 87 cubic feet to the Toyota’s 81. Tech? The Telluride gives third-row passengers USB chargers; the Land Cruiser can’t even provide Apple CarPlay. (It does, however, have an optional DVD entertainment system for $2200, if you want to dust off those boxes of discs in your basement.)

Fuel Economy

Efficiency has never been the Land Cruiser’s strong suit. The Telluride’s crossover-level gas mileage (the EPA rates it at 19 pg in town and 24 mpg on the highway) blows the Land Cruiser (13 mpg city/18 mpg highway) away. The Kia squeezes about 25 more miles of range out of a tank of gas, even with six fewer gallons to work with.


The Telluride is capable enough for what buyers need it to do. It has eight inches of ground clearance, and all-wheel-drive with torque vectoring. It can tow a decent 5,000 lbs  — less than the Land Cruiser’s impressive 8,500, but still enough for many camping trailers or smaller boats. The Telluride is also the better part of a ton lighter than the Land Cruiser and handles like a much smaller car.


Toyota does have a formidable reputation for reliability, but Kia has been laboring for a decade to rectify its reputation for the opposite with success. We may only know how well Kia’s latest cars hold up compared to Toyota’s after they’ve been on the road for another decade, but signs like Consumer Reports‘s customer satisfaction surveys bode well for the Korean brand.

The bottom line: for a little more than half the price, a luxed-out Kia Telluride will do just about everything a family asks of a Land Cruiser. Its looks and value will get your friends talking — whereas the Land Cruiser will get your friends talking behind your back about the sum you paid for it.


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Tyler Duffy

Tyler Duffy is Gear Patrol's Motoring Staff Writer. He used to write about sports for The Big Lead and The Athletic. He has a black belt in toddler wrangling. He's based outside Detroit.

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