The Kia Telluride was an instant home run for the brand when it debuted in 2019 and it has sat atop Edmunds’ list of best midsize three-row SUVs ever since. Last year, it further benefited from a few cosmetic and technology updates. But also vying for your attention is the all-new 2024 Mazda CX-90. Replacing Mazda’s CX-9 model as its largest SUV, the CX-90 boasts sleek looks, engaging performance and a premium-feeling cabin. Does the CX-90 have what it takes to dethrone the 2024 Telluride? Edmunds experts compared them to find out.
COMFORT AND INTERIOR
Mazda has had luxury aspirations for some time now, and that effort is renewed inside the CX-90. The CX-90’s interior feels well built and plush, and it features numerous physical buttons for major functions, each clearly labeled and easy to reach at a glance. The driver and passenger seats are great for long drives too. The CX-90 can seat up to eight passengers, though passenger space in the second and third rows is less than in the Telluride.
Both vehicles have comfortable rides, but the CX-90’s ride can feel stiffer over potholes when it’s equipped with the larger wheels. Our test team also praised the Telluride’s supportive and nicely contoured seats and the quiet cabin on the highway. The Telluride also has more cargo space than the CX-90. Fold down the third-row seats and you’ll have 46 cubic feet available versus 40.1 cubic feet in the CX-90.
Winner: Kia Telluride
PERFORMANCE AND MPG
Mazda may be a luxury-leaning automaker now, but its focus on driving dynamics remains. A trio of engines are offered in the CX-90: two inline six-cylinder engines producing 280 horsepower and 340 horsepower, respectively, and a plug-in-hybrid four-cylinder making 323 horsepower. The plug-in-hybrid is also capable of traveling approximately 26 miles on all-electric power before switching over to regular hybrid operation.
Kia takes a simpler route for the Telluride. It comes with a 291-horsepower V6 engine, and there’s no option to get a hybrid. Edmunds tested the 340-horsepower CX-90 and found it accelerated from 0 to 60 mph a full second quicker than the Telluride, hitting the mark in 6.5 seconds versus the Kia’s 7.5 seconds. The CX-90 is also more stable and confidence-inspiring around corners.
The CX-90 then shuts the door here with its higher fuel efficiency. According to the EPA, the CX-90, which has standard all-wheel drive, gets 25 mpg in combined city/highway driving. The plug-in hybrid engine on the CX-90 has not yet been rated by the EPA. A Telluride with all-wheel drive checks in at 20 mpg combined.
Winner: Mazda CX-90
Both of these SUVs come well stocked with many standard advanced driver aids such as adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assistance and blind-spot warning. Additional features, including a surround-view camera system that makes parking easier, are available as well. In testing, Edmunds found that these systems worked well and minimized false alerts.
Inside the Telluride’s cabin is a 12.3-inch center touchscreen. It’s easy to use and includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. The name of the game in the Kia is simplicity and usability — exactly what we want from tech in this day and age.
The CX-90 comes with a 10- or 12-inch screen depending on the trim. Smartphone connectivity is also included, and Mazda offers wireless connectivity; you’ll have to connect your phone with a USB cord in the Telluride. However, the CX-90’s infotainment system isn’t quite as easy to use as the Telluride’s.
The Mazda CX-90 lineup is priced from $40,970 to $61,325, which pushes it into luxury territory on the higher trims. With three engines and five trims, picking can be tough, but the CX-90 does offer a wide variety of configurations. You’re getting your money’s worth here. The Telluride, though, will generally cost less while still being upscale; its lineup ranges from $37,355 to $54,550. Kia’s longer basic and powertrain warranties only sweeten the deal.
Winner: Kia Telluride
The CX-90 is an ideal choice if you want an upscale three-row SUV that’s stylish and enjoyable to drive. The available plug-in hybrid model is a bonus, too. But overall the Kia Telluride remains the leader in this comparison. Its advantages in space, comfort and value are ultimately the things that Edmunds’ car experts consider most important.
This story was provided to The Associated Press by the automotive website Edmunds.
Chase Bierenkoven is a contributor at Edmunds and is on Twitter