2021 Ford Explorer vs 2021 Kia Telluride

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  • 2021 Ford Explorer

    A dark blue 2021 Ford Explorer is angled left.

    Starting at


    2021 Kia Telluride

    A black 2021 Kia Telluride LX is angled right.

    Starting at


    300 - 400Horsepower (hp)291
    310 - 415Torque (lb-ft)262
    5,600Max Towing (lbs)5,000

    As feature-packed as a new vehicle may be, it won’t mean a thing if a competing model shares identical or even greater features at a similar price. It’s one of the most understandable mindsets for any shopper who is seeking a new vehicle to go with the option that emphasizes both choice and value. When you’re spending the cost of a new vehicle, it’s easy to disregard competitors if they can’t offer anything unique, and when two vehicles are compared against one another, only one vehicle will be worth your time and hard-earned money. The 2021 Ford Explorer vs 2021 Kia Telluride has been a contentious debate amongst aspiring shoppers since both vehicles are priced relatively similarly. With this in mind, it’s easier than ever to distinguish any flaws between the two.

    With six trims available for the Ford Explorer and four available for the Telluride, both models aren’t short of options in this regard. The Telluride boasts a powerful V6 engine along with a host of safety features on its base model. The Ford explorer not only matches its feature set with an equally useful suite of safety features, but its standard turbocharged engine outperforms the V6 from the Telluride.

    Additionally, any connectivity features that the Telluride is marketing will be present on the Ford Explorer as well including infotainment centers with accompanying features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Moving up on the trim list for both models will begin to implement luxurious extras such as power-adjustable leather seats, for example. No matter which vehicle you opt for, the results will show that the Explorer is the more powerful vehicle.

  • Performance

    A red 2021 Ford Explorer ST is driving down the road on a sunny day after winning the 2021 Ford Explorer vs 2021 Kia Telluride battle.

    The Kia Telluride: Engine, Transmission, Fuel Economy

    The performance between these two vehicles tells a very one-sided story as the differences are quite stark. Regardless of which Telluride trim that you purchase, you’ll be stuck with the same powertrain configuration. This powertrain consists of a 3.8L V6 engine that produces 291 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque and will come paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission.

    Fuel efficiency is also decent with EPA-estimated ratings of 20 MPG city and 26 MPG highway with front-wheel drive and 19 MPG city and 24 MPG highway with all-wheel drive. By itself, this is a very potent configuration, but when compared to the Ford Explorer and its four available powertrains, the differences begin to become drastic.

    The Ford Explorer: Engine, Transmission, Fuel Economy

    Coming standard with the Explorer is a turbocharged 2.3L 4-cylinder that comes paired with a much preferable 10-speed automatic transmission for an overall smoother experience. The most impressive aspect of this turbocharged engine is its ability to outperform the Telluride’s only engine with 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, a 3% and 18% difference. The fuel efficiency of this engine is also greater than the Telluride’s V6 because the Explorer’s base engine is turbocharged, lending itself to EPA-estimated ratings of 21 MPG city and 28 MPG highway with rear-wheel drive.

    This leads into one of the greatest advantages of the Explorer, and that’s the extra powertrain configurations that you can fit your Explorer with, one of which is a hybrid.

    Starting with the hybrid option, a motor is paired with a regular 3.3L V6, and the results are 318 hp and 322 lb-ft of torque. This combo comes equipped with the same 10-speed automatic transmission as the standard engine, but it’s also the most fuel-efficient option out of the quartet of options with EPA-estimated ratings of 27 MPG city and 28 MPG highway with rear-wheel drive.

    The next available powertrain for the Ford Explorer is a twin-turbo 3.0L V6 that increases the Explorer’s power to 365 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. Although these numbers are the best so far, it’s not the best that the Explorer has to offer as the highest-end models will include a stronger variant of this engine that produces 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque. Even with this engine being the least fuel-efficient of the bunch with 18 MPG city and 24 MPG highway, it’s still impressive considering its power.

    Not only does this engine have 33.33% more horsepower and 33.87% greater torque output than its base engine. Compared to the Telluride, however, the Explorer can produce roughly 37.45% more horsepower and a 58% difference in torque output, which is a rather significant increase in power when stacked against each other.

  • Interior

    A child is shown smiling and using a tabled in the rear seats of a 2021 Ford Explorer.

    Overall, both the 2021 Explorer and Telluride have similar interiors, but there are also enough differences to create unique experiences. Both vehicles can support upwards of seven passengers, but the Explorer can be fitted to seat six passengers instead, whereas the Telluride can include an additional seat to fit eight passengers. Both the Explorer and Telluride can be customized with leather seating instead of cloth, and each vehicle allows for a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat and an 8-way power-adjustable passenger seat, so staying comfortable at all times will be easy.

    Passenger Room

    In the front row of the Explorer, 40.7-inches of headroom is complemented by 43-inches of legroom. In comparison, the Telluride has 40.9-inches of headroom, which is a minuscule difference but has a smaller 41.4-inches of legroom. Both vehicles have three rows of seats, and the dimensions between the two differ slightly. The Explorer has more headroom in the second row with 40.5-inches of space instead of 40.2-inches but has less legroom with 39-inches instead of 42.4-inches. Lastly, the third row of seats finds the Explorer will have more space with 38.9-inches of headroom and 32.2-inches of legroom as opposed to the Telluride’s 38.1-inches of headroom and 31.4-inches of legroom.

    Cargo Room

    Cargo capacity tells a similar story as well since both the Explorer and Telluride outmatch one another in certain ways. For example, with both rows of seats folded down on each vehicle, the Explorer will give you 87.8 cu.ft. of space while the Telluride gives a very similar 87 cu.ft. When you only have the third row of seats folded downwards, the Explorer will have more space with 47.9 cu ft. instead of the Telluride’s 46 cu ft.

    The Telluride does have the advantage when every seat is in the upright position, however. The Telluride will have 21 cu.ft. of space, and the Explorer will have 18.2 cu.ft. Overall, the Explorer provides a more pleasant seating experience for everyone aboard, and in tandem with the extra performance of the Explorer, it’s an admirable combination.

  • Safety

    A close up shows the blind spot monitoring icon illuminated on the mirror of a silver 2021 Ford Explorer that is towing a trailer.

    Many SUVs that are released nowadays have had plenty of consideration put into safety thanks to their manufacturer. This is also the case with the 2021 Explorer and Telluride, as drivers who purchase the base models of either vehicle will not be left without any safety features. Aside from these tech-oriented safety features, the Explorer is genuinely well-built, earning a 2021 Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). It’s worth noting that the IIHS had rated the Telluride with the still honorable 2021 Top Safety Pick, but it’s still ranked lower than the Explorer.

    A Wide Array of Safety Features

    Both vehicles include a wide array of safety features that come included with each base model. Coming with the Explorer is Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 safety suite, and the Telluride provides a similar set of features called Kia Drive Wise. Each vehicle includes a form of Automatic Emergency Braking which will apply extra pressure to your brakes in the event of an emergency such as an oncoming collision. With Pedestrian Detection, which comes standard in both vehicles, the same braking pressure can be applied to protect those who are outside of vehicles as well.

    While traveling on the freeway, you’ll have more ways of staying alert as both the Explorer and Telluride will both warn you of swerving and can correct it as well with Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keep Assist (which Ford calls the Lane-Keeping System). Blind Spot Monitors also come with each of the two vehicles, so the act of switching lanes will be safer than ever by giving you more information about your surroundings. It isn’t much you can do in regards to adding more safety features than the one that comes with your Telluride, but the Ford Explorer can include the addition of Co-Pilot 360 Assist+ for an even greater list of safety features.

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