When you need to haul eight passengers, you want something like the 2021 Kia Telluride or 2021 Subaru Ascent. Here’s how they compare.
2021 Subaru Ascent
Above Average: Off-road capable; standard active safety features; no extra charge for AWD.
Below Average: Just one 4-cylinder powertrain; non-linear throttle response from turbo engine and CVT; light power steering.
Consensus: The 2021 Subaru Ascent delivers the brand’s traditional virtues in a larger package and is Subaru’s first competitive 3-row offering. Its turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is spunky and economical, and all-wheel drive is standard.
2021 Kia Telluride
Above Average: KBB Best Buy Award winner; great value; seating for seven or eight passengers; bold design; spacious interior.
Below Average: No Wi-Fi hotspot; small glove box.
Consensus: The Kia Telluride is packed with amenities and safety features and offers excellent value, which is why it won the Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Award for its segment and was named Best New Model upon its debut for the 2020 model year.
Ascent vs. Telluride: Room for Eight
The 2021 Subaru Ascent is the brand’s largest vehicle ever, with dimensions that place it in the thick of the midsize, 3-row SUV fray. The third row is standard, and a 3-passenger bench or two captain’s chairs can be had in the second row, which allows room for seven or eight. Passenger and luggage space is mid-pack.
The turbocharged flat-4-cylinder is the sole engine, but it has the muscle to hustle the Ascent along. The accelerator response with the CVT transmission isn’t always linear. The fuel economy is very good. AWD is standard here and includes an off-road X-Mode, which, together with the Ascent’s 8.7 inches of ground clearance, allows this Subaru to travel comfortably off the beaten path.
For 2021, Subaru has added to the Ascent’s list of active-safety features and driver-assists. The Eyesight Safety suite includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure and sway warning, and a head-up display warning. Upgrades include blind-spot monitoring, reverse automatic braking, rear cross-traffic assist, and a front-view monitor. Ascent also earns an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award.
The Kia Telluride basically gets everything right, according to our expert reviewers. It comes with a 291-horsepower 3.8-liter V6 engine, and a full suite of technology and safety features, all while offering some of the best cargo and passenger room in the class for just under $32,000. You can seat up to eight passengers or opt for seven if you choose a pair of captain’s chairs in place of the second-row bench.
The Telluride is comfortable, capable, and most of all, feels relaxed on long drives. In addition, it offers all-wheel drive (front-wheel drive is standard), which also brings an additional snow mode for when things get slippery.
The Telluride also boasts an impressive suite of standard safety systems. These include forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control with stop and go. Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, driver attention warning, rear occupant alert, and safe exit assist are also included.
Passenger space; cargo volume; fuel economy; NTHSA 5-star safety ratings.
2021 Subaru Ascent Advantages
Good ground clearance for off-road use; standard AWD.
2021 Kia Telluride Advantages
Packed with tech and advanced driver assists; long warranty.
Which one is right for me?
The 2021 Subaru Ascent is a 3-row SUV that should be at the top of your list if you’re looking for all-wheel drive at no extra cost. There’s also plenty of safety with the standard Eyesight suite of driver assists.
The 2021 Kia Telluride offers contemporary styling in a roomy package that can comfortably seat eight. It also boasts the added benefit of long bumper-to-bumper and powertrain warranties.
Ready to buy a Subaru Ascent or Kia Telluride? Shop for one on sale now near you.
|2021 Subaru Ascent||2021 Kia Telluride|
|Engine||2.4-liter turbo flat-4||3.8-liter V6|
|Horsepower||260 hp @ 5,600 rpm||291 hp @ 6,000 rpm|
|Torque||277 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm||262 lb-ft @ 5,200|
|Fuel Economy||23 mpg (21 city/27 hwy)||23 mpg (20 city/26 hwy)|
|Warranty||3 years/36,000 miles||5 years/60,000 miles|
|Powertrain warranty||5 years/60,000 miles||10 years/100,000 miles|
|NHTSA Overall Safety||5 stars||5 stars|
|Max Seating Capacity||8||8|
|Wheelbase||113.8 inches||114.2 inches|
|Overall Length||196.8 inches||196.9 inches|
|Width||76.0 inches||78.3 inches|
|Height||71.6 inches||68.9 inches|
|Turning Diameter||38.0 feet||38.8 feet|
|Headroom, Front||41.3 inches||40.9 inches|
|Headroom, 2nd row||40.0 inches||40.2 inches|
|Headroom, 3rd row||36.3 inches||38.1 inches|
|Legroom, Front||42.2 inches||41.4 inches|
|Legroom, 2nd row||38.6 inches||42.4 inches|
|Legroom, 3rd row||31.7 inches||31.4 inches|
|Shoulder Room, Front||61.1 inches||61.6 inches|
|Shoulder Room, 2nd row||60.3 inches||61.2 inches|
|Shoulder Room, 3rd Row||57.2 inches||55.3 inches|
|EPA Passenger Volume||153.5 cubic feet||178.1 cubic feet|
|EPA Cargo Volume||86.5 cubic feet||87.0 cubic feet|