2021 Toyota Highlander Vs. Kia Telluride

2021 Toyota Highlander vs. 2021 Kia Telluride at Stampede Toyota in Calgary, Alberta

Bigger isn’t always better, but when it comes to family-friendly, adventure-ready SUVs, bigger is certainly an advantage. For the 2021 Toyota Highlander and 2021 Kia Telluride, two impressive, 8-seat SUVs, being bigger is certainly a benefit—but which of these behemoths takes the top spot? Read on to learn how the 2021 Highlander and 2021 Telluride stack up against each other, with Calgary’s very own Stampede Toyota.


Toyota Highlander Design

Despite its imposing frame, the 2021 Toyota Highlander offers sleek and athletic styling that bridges the gap between SUVs of the past and their more modern equivalents. Aerodynamic lines help the Highlander perform admirably on the road, without sacrificing any of the size that allows you to pack up to 8 people inside.

Speaking of inside, the incredibly spacious 2021 Highlander offers a choice between 2nd-row Captain’s Chairs for 7 seats, or a 2nd-row bench seat to make it an even 8. Heated front seats come standard in the Highlander, while the driver is treated to an 8-way power adjustable chair, with the available Qi wireless charging pad within arm’s reach. And an upgrade to the Platinum Grade gives the 2021 Toyota Highlander a 12.3-inch touchscreen—one of the largest in the segment!

Kia Telluride Design

The 2021 Kia Telluride edges the Highlander in length, height, width, and wheelbase, although only by an inch or two in each category—making the difference in interior and cargo space negligible. In terms of styling, the 2021 Telluride stands tall, if not somewhat derivative of SUVs of the past. Its big, square frame certainly gives it a bit more of an aggressive look, though it does little in terms of aerodynamic support.

Inside, the 2021 Telluride offers fairly standard styling, as well as a choice between 7 or 8 passengers. A 10.25-inch touchscreen comes standard in the Telluride lineup, beating out the lower trims of the Highlander but falling just slightly short of Toyota’s optional screen. Speaking of options, with ten trims compared to just 4—including hybrid models—the 2021 Toyota Highlander offers a greater variety of design features and options to choose from than the 2021 Telluride, meaning you can more easily find the right Highlander for your needs.

Specifications: 2021 Toyota Highlander LE 2021 Kia Telluride EX
Length (mm/in) 4,950 / 194.9 5,000 / 196.9
Width (mm/in) 1,930 / 76.0 1,990 / 78.3
Height (mm/in) 1,730 / 68.1 1,759 / 69.3
Wheelbase (mm/in) 2,850 / 112.2 2,900 / 114.2
Ground Clearance (mm/in) 204 / 8.0 203 / 8.0

Performance & Capability

The 2021 Kia Telluride and Toyota Highlander offer quite similar performance when it comes to their available 3-plus litre engines, though the Toyota takes the cake here thanks to a slight edge in both horsepower and torque. And, while both matched to 8-speed automatics, the 2021 Highlander offers about a litre per 100 km better fuel efficiency than the Telluride’s 12.6 L/100 km in the city—once again, before taking into account the hybrid models, which go as low as 6.7 L/100 km combined. In terms of towing, both the Telluride and Highlander max out at 5,000 lbs, making them both extremely capable of hauling a small trailer. In the end, while they offer similar power, the impressive efficiency of the 2021 Toyota Highlander simply means you’ll be able to skip the gas station that much more often.

Specifications: 2021 Toyota Highlander 2021 Kia Telluride EX
Engine 3.5L V6 Dual Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence 3.8L V6 GDI
Horsepower 295 291
Torque (lb-ft) 263 262
Transmission 8-speed direct shift automatic 8-speed automatic
Fuel Economy (city/highway) (L/100 km) 11.8 / 8.6 12.6 / 9.7


With Kia’s Forward Collision Avoidance Assist system standard on the 2021 Telluride, along with Safe Exit Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist, and Blind Spot Collision Avoidance Assist, there’s a few systems in place to help keep you safe—although one of those is for parking and one is only for after you’ve parked. The 2021 Highlander, however, is the first model in Canada to feature Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+—the most impressive version of Toyota’s active safety and driver assistance suite yet. New features like Left Turn Intersection Support and Curve Speed Management get added to old favourites like Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection & Bicycle Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (with enhanced line & road recognition), Lane Tracing Assist, and Automatic High Beams. Higher trims like the Limited and Platinum add in Intelligent Clearance Sonar, alerting you to any objects around your vehicle. So while the 2021 Kia Telluride is both safe and smart, the Highlander is simply safer and smarter.

Toyota Highlander vs. Kia Telluride Verdict

The 2021 Kia Telluride is similar in many ways to the 2021 Toyota Highlander, with a similar sized frame seating 7 to 8 passengers, a 3+ litre V6 engine, and smart advanced safety features. In terms of styling the Telluride offers a familiar (if not stale) look, while the Highlander brings a more sporty feel to the road. However, with a wider choice of models including Hybrid versions, a more efficient engine, and a greater collection of standard safety features, our money is on the 2021 Toyota Highlander to provide better value when it comes to these two SUVs. Speaking of money, the Highlander starts at just $40,450, with the top end model—the Hybrid Platinum—topping out at $56,450, while the Telluride starts at $46,195 with the top model going as high as $55,695. 

If you’d like to learn more about the 2021 Toyota Highlander, or to book a test drive, simply fill out the form below. If the Highlander doesn’t seem like the right model for you, we’d be happy to look at any other vehicles in our extensive new and pre-owned inventory. In addition to hosting a huge variety of vehicles at our Calgary dealership, we handle all things automotive from financing, to service, parts, accessories, and more. Simply stop by Calgary’s Stampede Toyota for all your Toyota needs!

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