Both Kia and Honda are at the forefront of the affordable midsize SUV market at the moment. There’s a reason to love both manufacturers and there is a lot of overlap in terms of what they do well. Both Kia and Honda are known for their unparalleled reliability and value for money. Those traits are what make the Kia Telluride vs Honda Pilot debate a nuanced one.
Let’s look at the similarities. Both the Telluride and Pilot have a base MSRP of around $35,000, can seat a minimum of 5 passengers, have both FWD and AWD options available, have close to 300 horsepower, and have advanced interior and safety-oriented technology integrated. And that’s only the start of the list.
We’ll go into the details more thoroughly in the coming sections, but the Telluride and Pilot are a pretty even match. With that being said, there are definitely areas where one edges out the other. In the following article, we’ll cover the primary similarities and differences between the 2022 Kia Telluride vs Honda Pilot to help you make the most informed buying decision.
2022 Kia Telluride vs Honda Pilot Configurations and Pricing
For the 2022 model year, Kia offers the Telluride in 4 different configurations at different price points. The primary differences between the models boil down to included features rather than size or performance differences. :
- LX – $33,090
- S – $35,590
- EX – $38,090
- SX – $42,990
In all honesty, the difference between Telluride models is negligible from a core standpoint. Each of the models is available in either FWD or AWD form, with the AWD models being more expensive. Most of the features differentiating the models come in the form of interior gadgets, safety features, and external aesthetic differences.
The 2022 Honda Pilot is offered in nearly double the number of trim levels as the Telluride. In total, the Honda Pilot is offered in 7 trim levels that vary slightly more than the Telluride models.
- Sport – $36,830
- EX-L – $39,060
- Special Edition – $39,660
- TrailSport – $43,560
- Touring – $43,620
- Elite – $49,120
- Black Edition – $50,620
Like the Telluride, the 2022 Honda Pilot doesn’t change fundamentally based on trim level. All 7 Pilot trims retain the same 280-horsepower i-VTEC V6 engine and share the same core dimensions. Perhaps the most important distinction between the trims is the inclusion of standard AWD on the TrailSport and Pilot Elite trim levels.
Kia Telluride vs Honda Pilot AWD Availability and Capabilities
For some people, especially those that live in poor-weather-prone areas, AWD is one of the most important factors when purchasing a new midsize SUV. Luckily, both the Kia Telluride and Honda Pilot offer AWD models.
In a direct comparison between Kia Telluride vs Honda Pilot AWD systems, they share very similar features and capabilities. The Telluride features an All-Wheel-Drive system that they call “Active On-Demand All-Wheel Drive w/ AWD Lock and Snow Mode.” A bit of a mouthful. It is a very effective system though. The Telluride monitors 50 different vehicle-mounted sensors 100 times per second to calculate torque needs on the fly, sending power to each wheel individually where needed.
The Honda Pilot features a similar system that Honda has deemed the i-VTM4 all-wheel-drive system. It is the most advanced system that Honda currently offers and comes standard on the TrailSport and Elite Pilot trim levels. Honda’s i-VTM4 system uses torque vectoring to distribute power to all four wheels individually through the front and rear axles. i-VTM4 can send up to 70% of engine torque to the rear wheels and actively distribute up to 100% of that torque to a single left or right wheel.
Generally speaking, both the Kia Telluride and Honda Pilot are extremely capable vehicles in bad weather conditions, unpaved roads, sand, gravel, and ice when equipped with their respective AWD systems. It is possible to equip the base model of both vehicles with AWD for an additional $2,000 to the base price. In that respect, the Telluride wins out in terms of price. You can get an AWD Telluride LX for $35,390 and an AWD Honda Pilot for $41,075.
Kia Telluride vs Honda Pilot Standard Features
Another key differentiator between the Telluride and Pilot is the standard features that they come equipped with. We’ll focus on external, interior, and safety features primarily. At their most basic trim level, the Telluride and Pilot, once again, share quite a few similarities in terms of standard features. With that being said, it is evident that the Telluride is geared more toward providing a luxury interior experience.
Standard Exterior Features
As stated above, the Telluride and Pilot share quite a few external / ease-of-use features as standard. Here are some of their most notable similarities:
- Keyless Entry
- Body-Matched Door Handles
- LED Daytime Running Lights
- Rear Privacy Glass
- Variable Intermittent Windshield Wipers
The two definitely have more similarities than differences in terms of standard exterior features, especially in base trim. At higher trim levels, even more similarities become evident. For instance, a power tailgate is available on both the Telluride EX and Pilot Special Edition. Higher trim levels of both also feature power sunroofs, gloss black trim, and larger 20” wheels.
Standard Interior Features
As with the exterior features, the Telluride and Pilot also feature very similar interior features as well. Here are some of the most notable ones:
- Push Button Start
- Apple Car Play and Android Auto Connectivity
- Multiple USB Ports
- Multi-Zone Climate Control with Rear Seat Controls
- 60/40 Split-Folding 2nd and 3rd Row Seats
- Premium Dynamic Audio
In base trim, the Pilot unquestionably has the edge over the Telluride in terms of interior comfort features. While the two do share quite a few interior similarities, the Pilot has a lot more notable features.
For instance, the 2022 Honda Pilot features heated front seats as standard, a more powerful 215-watt sound system with 7 speakers, beverage holders in all three rows, and a walk-away lock feature. While the Pilot might have more to offer, the Telluride does many of their shared features better.
For instance, both the Kia Telluride vs Honda Pilot have central infotainment screens used to control their media functionality. The Telluride comes equipped with a large 10.25” touch screen display in contrast to the Pilot’s 8” display. The Telluride features navigation while the Pilot does not.
The standard seats are also an important factor to note, as the Kia Telluride comes with more premium feeling SynTex faux-leather seats while the Pilot uses cloth seats. Both vehicles come with multiple USB ports, but the Telluride also has three 12V power outlets.
In terms of interior ratings, both the Kia Telluride and Honda Pilot win out for different reasons. If you are looking for quality over quantity, the Telluride is your best bet.
Standard Safety Features
One of the most important aspects of any midsized family hauler is safety. Both the Kia Telluride and Honda Pilot have you covered in that respect. It is evident from the final versions of both vehicles that safety was very high on both manufacturer’s priority lists. Both vehicles go above and beyond in terms of included safety features. Here are some of the standout similarities:
- Forward Collision Warning
- Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist / Collision Mitigation Braking System
- Stability and Traction Control
- Lane Departure Warning
- 4-Wheel Anti-Lock Brakes
- All-Row Curtain Airbags
- Rear View Camera / Monitor
In terms of safety, the Kia Telluride wins out. In addition to the features listed above, the Telluride comes equipped with driver attention warning, blind-spot collision avoidance assist, and lane-keeping assist. The Pilot also comes with some unique features including an advanced crash-resistant body design and SmartVent front airbags.
Both vehicles will keep both you and your passengers safe, there’s no doubt about that. The Telluride is the best value for money on the safety front, as it has just as many safety features at a lower starting MSRP.
Kia Telluride vs Honda Pilot Reliability and Longevity
It is no secret that both Kia and Honda are known worldwide for their stellar reliability. The same can be said for both the Telluride and Pilot. It is important to note that the Kia Telluride is a relatively new model, released for the 2020 model year.
For that reason, we’ll have to use similar Kia models as the benchmark for the Telluride. As for the Pilot, the first-gen was released in 2002. While the 2022 Pilot is significantly different, the underlying construction is still very solid.
Kia Telluride Engine Reliability
Let’s begin by discussing the Telluride’s 3.8L Lambda engine that has also been used in similar Hyundai-badged SUVs. The engine is one of the most important factors when considering the reliability of most cars, as engine problems can be the most costly to repair down the line.
In general, the Hyundai-made 3.8L Lambda engine is a stout and reliable engine that isn’t known to have any truly common issues. With that being said, there’s never an engine without some minor faults. The most common issues that have been known to plague the 3.8L in the past include carbon buildup on intake valves from direct injection, oil leaks, and high mileage transmission issues. For more detailed information about some the the 3.8L’s most common problems, take a look at our 3.8L Hyundai Genesis 3.8L V6 Engine guide.
At this point in the 3.8L Lambda’s build cycle, most of the oil leak and transmission issues have since been sorted by Hyundai and, by extension, Kia. With that being said, oil leaks can still occur if an oil filter is installed improperly or fails to seat correctly. Overall, J.D. Power and Associates gave the Kia Telluride a 4 / 5 star reliability rating which is one of the best in its class.
Honda Pilot Engine Reliability
While still held in high regard as far as reliability is concerned, the 2022 Honda Pilot is expected to be outperformed by the Kia Telluride in terms of reliability. Honda does, however, have an unparalleled record in terms of engine reliability in the past, which leaves that prediction as a guessing point.
To this day, the Honda Pilot uses the Honda J35 3.5L V6 engine that has appeared in similar form in Honda vehicles for over two decades. While the J35 has been updated and refined since then, the overall construction is very similar. That allows us to look at the engine’s past problems and predict some of the issues that might come later down the line for 2022 Pilot owners.
The three most common J35 engine problems are variable cylinder management gasket leaks, frequent timing belt maintenance, and carbon buildup on intake valves. The primary item to focus on here is issues with the VCM system which is responsible for shutting down cylinders during low-demand driving to conserve fuel economy. While it is a great system from an efficiency standpoint, it is prone to issues, especially at higher mileages. If you are looking for additional information about the J35 engine, take a look at our 3 Most Common Problems With the Honda J35 Engine guide.
With all of that taken into account, most of the 2022 Pilot’s issues won’t be common and will manifest later down their lifecycle. J.D. Power and Associates gave the 2022 Pilot a projected reliability score of 79/100 which puts it in the above-average category.
Kia Telluride vs Honda Pilot Summary
Both the Kia Telluride and Honda Pilot will do the job of a midsized SUV very well. The Telluride is a relatively new vehicle to the market when compared to the Honda Pilot’s longstanding pedigree. Despite the difference in history, the Kia Telluride seems to be the best option from the standpoint of price, interior quality, and safety.
As the two are very similar in most aspects, the decision really boils down to personal preference. On one hand, with the Telluride, you have a new kid on the block that seems to do most things better than the seasoned vet. And, to add insult to injury, does so at a lower starting MSRP. The Honda Pilot, on the other hand, is a vehicle that already has the reputation of being one of the best vehicles in its class. In general, you know what you’re getting from a Honda Pilot.
That is where exterior styling, brand preference, and highly specific individual needs need to be considered. Either way, you’ll walk out of the dealership with a midsized SUV that both you and your family will enjoy.