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Kia Telluride vs. Subaru Ascent | 2020 SUV Comparison Test

Kia Telluride vs. Subaru Ascent | 2020 SUV Comparison Test

have a growing family, there’s a really good
chance you’re looking at mid-sized three row SUVs. Subaru got back into the
segment with this, the Ascent. It’s a strong choice in
a very competitive class. But it’s not our top pick. The Ascent maintains
Subaru’s tradition of letting outward
bound families get off the beaten path. We’re here to show
you where it shines, as well as where it could
use a little improvement against our favorite,
the Kia Telluride. [MUSIC PLAYING] ELANA SCHERR: Oh, man, I
thought I was your favorite. MARK TAKAHASHI: On paper,
both SUVs are very similar. Both start right at $33,000
and remain comparably priced up to these top trims, that cost
about $45 grand before options. The Telluride Grand is estimated
at 21 miles per gallon, barely edged out by the
Ascent’s 22 miles per gallon. Both have a long list of
advanced safety features and get similarly high safety
scores from NHTSA and IIHS too. ELANA SCHERR: The Telluride
has a horsepower advantage, but the Ascent has more torque. So we’ll call that
basically even. That’s confirmed by
our test results, where the Ascent was a tenth
quicker to 60 miles per hour, but the Telluride crossed
the quarter mile 3/10 ahead. If you’re concerned
about towing, well, that is dead even
between them, at 5,000 pounds, when properly equipped. MARK TAKAHASHI:
Here at Edmunds, we test over 300 vehicles a year
at our private test track, as well as real world
evaluations on public roads. As close as these vehicle
specs are to each other, you’d expect them to be tied
for first place in our rankings. Instead, the Ascent
trails in a number of areas, which are
best demonstrated with more than graphics. [MUSIC PLAYING] Elana, we spent a lot of
time with both vehicles. What do you think of the Ascent? ELANA SCHERR: Well,
I am a Subaru fan. I just, I’ve always
liked the brand. I think it has a good vibe,
and I can picture the engineers really wanting people to go
out in their cars and have fun. The Ascent is a turbo four
instead of the more classic six. But it is not slow
or underpowered. I would say maybe that it’s
a little, is unrefined fair? MARK TAKAHASHI: That’s
a fair statement. ELANA SCHERR: Yeah. In fairness, it’s only
compared to the Telluride, which is smooth. MARK TAKAHASHI: Agreed, totally. [MUSIC PLAYING] ELANA SCHERR: I kind of liked
the Subaru’s rugged ride quality, but I know that you,
fancy Mark, had some quibbles. MARK TAKAHASHI: I wish there
was a little more extension from that steering
column, because as it is, I have to slide my
seat just a little further forward than I prefer. Then there are the
seats themselves. They’re oddly cushioned. A little too squishy on top. And oddly, too firm below that. The biggest difference between
the two though is noise. You hear a lot more road and
engine noise in the Subaru than you do with the Kia. [ENGINE RACING] ELANA SCHERR: That’s
what the radio’s for, you just turn it up. MARK TAKAHASHI: Fair enough. ELANA SCHERR: I mean,
speaking of infotainment. [MUSIC PLAYING] I really liked the dual
screen setup in the Ascent. I mean, I like the
way that it looked. Usability, on the other
hand, it’s not great. Controls are all over the place. I mean, there’s like
controls on the ceiling, and it is not intuitive at all. MARK TAKAHASHI: The
Telluride’s infotainment gets high marks for its
inclusion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. We also like that it
has plenty of USB ports that are well-placed. The screen resolution
is very sharp, and its responses
are very quick. Furthermore, the
menus are logically laid out and easy
to use without ever having to consult a manual. ELANA SCHERR: A
bigger complaint might be that compared
to the Telluride, the Ascent is a
big three-row SUV, but it doesn’t have
that much space. [MUSIC PLAYING] Like the backseat,
the third row, you cannot put
adults back there. And really, it’s not that
comfortable for kids either. It’s also a little bit difficult
to get those seats up and down. It’s like a multi-step process. So again, little stuff that just
makes it slightly less useful. MARK TAKAHASHI: The
good thing, though, is that the Ascent has
19 cup holders, which Subaru was so proud to tout
when they introduced it. Now that seems a
little excessive for a vehicle that can
only seat eight passengers, but those cup holders
are grouped together so you can put much
larger objects in them. ELANA SCHERR: Yeah,
I did actually think that the Subaru
had better small item storage than the Telluride. MARK TAKAHASHI:
Yeah, marginally. Now none of these
drawbacks for the Subaru are so critical that we
consider them deal breakers. Collectively though, they
subtract just enough points to drop it down to seventh
place in our rankings. ELANA SCHERR: It’s kind of
a death by 1,000 cuts thing. MARK TAKAHASHI:
Yeah, totally agree. ELANA SCHERR: Especially
when the Telluride just keeps pulling ahead in
rankings, no matter what we compare it to. I mean, some of that is
that it has like a longer warranty and more cargo space. Compared to the
Ascent, the Telluride has 3.4 cubic feet
more cargo room, which is about the size
of a medium suitcase or like a Cocker
Spaniel, depending on how it is that you measure size. You know which one I would pick. MARK TAKAHASHI: Yes,
I do, The suitcase. ELANA SCHERR: And this is
subjective, but style-wise, inside and out, the
Telluride looks great. The materials look
really expensive. And outside, it’s
just the perfect mix of kind of like elegance and
truckiness, so it looks tough, but it also looks fancy. I just took it on a road trip
and never in all my years of driving have I ever got
a thumbs up from someone on the highway while
driving an SUV. It happened twice
in the Telluride. At one point, I pulled
into a racetrack and the security guard
was like, what is it. And he wanted to look at it,
and I had to open the windows and let him look inside. And to quote him after
he had checked it out, Kia is stepping it up. MARK TAKAHASHI: Well,
it makes perfect sense that the Telluride had a
waiting list for shoppers for its first year
of production. As close as the
performance specs are between the
Subaru and the Kia, the Telluride simply is
a better SUV to drive. It gathers speed more smoothly. That standard V6 sounds
great doing it too. ELANA SCHERR: Yeah,
it is little things, but they all add up to make
the Kia feel really special. And you add that to the
fact that it will also do all the day-to-day business
things that you need it to do, and you have just a
really great vehicle. MARK TAKAHASHI: Agreed. It’s abundantly clear that
the Kia Telluride deserves its top spot among SUVs. For the same price as rivals,
it exceeds expectations. The Ascent, on the other
hand, meets expectations, but it is a big step
in the right direction. Even if the Telluride
didn’t exist, it would still have to contend
with the likes of the Honda Pilot, the Hyundai Palisade, the
Volkswagen Atlas and the Mazda CX9, all of which got
higher Edmunds rankings. ELANA SCHERR: Yeah,
this is a busy segment, which makes it that
much more impressive that the Telluride came in
and went straight to the top. MARK TAKAHASHI: Indeed. Let us know what you think
in the comments below. For more information on the
Ascent or the Telluride, head on over to That’s edmunds. ELANA SCHERR: Dot com.

44 thoughts on “Kia Telluride vs. Subaru Ascent | 2020 SUV Comparison Test”

  1. What else would you put up against the Kia Telluride?

    Read more about the 2020 Kia Telluride ( and the 2020 Subaru Ascent (

  2. I am buying a 3 row this year (the van will go to my kids). After looking at a number of them the best are the Telluride and Pallisade. Objectively the Palisade is the better value as it offers more (Digital IP, power 3rd row, 3 years of maintenance, etc.) and you can get it under MSRP. If by June I can't get a Telluride for near invoice I'll be going with the Palisade. Atlas is decent but not as good. Cx-9 is more fun but smaller and has less value for money. If the Pacifica AWD/redesign was available that would also be a contender.

  3. I have a 2018 Subaru Forester and love it. But in 2019 they changed to that weird infotainment center, which I tried out of curiosity and hated. As for noise, my Forester is really quiet to me, but then the vehicle that I had before this one was a Jeep, so anything is quiet compared to a Jeep. I rode in a friend’s Explorer not long ago and it was much quieter than my Forester.

  4. I think the Telluride beats its main competitors (new Highlander, Pilot, Atlas, Traverse, Pathfinder, CX-9, Ascent obviously, etc.) in almost all the key comparison metrics. It seems very well rounded with regards to passenger and cargo space, safety and tech amenities, near luxury seating surfaces and interior trim pieces, powertrain performance, driving and handling, and overall build quality.

  5. Numbers are just that, numbers. How does the vehicle feel and make you feel when you drive it. Intangibles are as important as tangibles. After dealing with and listening to the 6.5" Starlink in my WRX, the Starlink system is a valid deal breaker. Telluride-S or CX-9 for us when the time comes (or Wrangler Sport 4-door if my wife gets her wish 😔)

  6. Saw a AssEnt nest to me today. Fugly as can be. Looks like a plain and over inflated forester. Had others with me and they too hated the look of it. Think Subaru still believes it is 2012.. Flush that turd. 🐂💩

  7. The way i see it is, your either a snowflake so u automatically buy the subaru or your a dumb sheep that believes all this reviewers which are more like commercials and you buy the POS kia. If ur smart u stick to honda or toyota if u have more money and truly american you buy the explorer.. thats just my opinion though

  8. Join the respective forums and become informed

  9. When I think of Subaru, I think full time 4 wheel drive. When you compare SUVs with Subaru I would expect a comparison of their 4 wheel drive systems yet you didn't mention this at all.

  10. In Northwestern Ontario (Central Canada for those who don’t know where that is) the Telluride starts at $48000 which is similar (but still a few thousand more) then the Ford explorer, vw atlas, GMC Acadia, and Toyota hylander. The Ascent starts at $39000 which is more then only the Kia Sorento, Mitsubishi outlander and within a $1000 of the traverse, Palisade, Pilot, vw Tiguan, and pathfinder and better equipt and roomier then all of them. I’m not seeing how people are saying the Telluride is in the same price range. It’s $9000 more then 75% of third row SUVs in its supposed class. Are the prices really that much cheaper in the USA then in Canada?

  11. Subaru seats have been a disaster for years.
    And I'm speaking as a Subaru fan and owner.
    The lumbar support is overly-aggressive and hits in the middle of your back.

  12. I think they should star making real SUVs again instead of this big cars they call SUVs with short suspension travel
    That cant really go offroad.

  13. We LOVE Subaru’s and DO take ours off road and I mean off road I’m not a fan of this model of Subaru though. I wouldn’t buy a new Subaru because of the CVT, I’ll stick to the older Subaru’s. Sadly these test seem come down to which car has the most USB ports and the biggest information center. Most of these types of vehicles NEVER carry more then two people and they about status nothing else.

  14. She likes Subaru because it's a brand that has a good vibe? And she can picture them wanting people to care about their vehicles?


  15. I don't like either but for God's sake, buy the KIA. At least you have a V6 engine that wont blow headgaskets like its a bodily function. 2:48 hear that? Thats the gutless overworked problematic powertrain of the Subaru struggling to motivate that big turd.

  16. Subaru has lost its mojo, my understanding was that typically they have great seats and great ride (I have a '17 Outback and both are better than my '09 Mercedes GL 320 CDI which rides on air suspension). How do they compare off road though? Typically Subaru s are a good half way point between SUV and an actual 4×4.

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