Kia Telluride Hybrid looks likely for the U.S. market around 2025

  • Kia Telluride will not remain a gas-only model for very long
  • Next-gen model expected with hybrid tech in 2025
  • Kia expected to aim the EV9 at customers who want a pure-electric alternative
  • Current, gas-powered Telluride delivers up to 23 MPG

Update: ‘Kia Telluride Hybrid in the next generation’ section revised.

Kia has substantially expanded its partially electrified vehicle portfolio since the launch of the Niro in 2016. Almost every global Kia SUV is available with a mild-hybrid, full-hybrid, and/or plug-in hybrid system. A Kia Telluride Hybrid is expected to join these semi-electric models in 2025.

Blockbuster sales

Kia scored a home run with the Telluride in the U.S. In 2019, the year it launched the SUV, it sold 58,604 units. The Telluride was the sixth-highest-selling Kia in the country that year. In 2020, the first full year of sales for the model, the Telluride was the third best-selling Kia, with 75,129 units delivered. In 2021, with 93,705 units sold, the Telluride retained its third rank internally. Fast-forward to 2023, the Telluride enjoyed its best-ever year in the U.S., with sales of 110,765 units.

Kia Telluride concept front three quarter
The concept version of the Telluride (2016), which Kia developed on an extended version of the Sorento’s platform, was a hybrid. Kia used a combination of a 270 hp 3.5L GDI V6 engine and a 130 hp electric motor, which it claimed could return 30 MPG (highway). Image Source: Kia

Kia Telluride Hybrid in the next generation

On January 28, 2024, ET News published a report claiming that Hyundai is developing an all-new hybrid powertrain based on a 2.5-liter turbocharged gas engine. The electrically assisted engine will be mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The first-ever Palisade Hybrid will debut the new hybrid system, and later, Kia’s Carnival Hybrid will also switch to this powertrain, as per the report. It’s safe to assume that a first-ever Kia Telluride Hybrid with the same system is also in development, as the Telluride and Palisade are platform twins.

We think that the first-ever Kia Telluride Hybrid could debut in the second half of 2025, following the next-gen Palisade that will precede it in the first half the same year.

Kia Telluride engine bay
The next-gen Palisade is reported to receive a new 2.5L Hybrid system, which we expect will also be shared with the incoming Telluride. Pictured is the current-gen SUV.

Currently, the Kia Telluride is available with the Lambda II 3.8-liter naturally aspirated direct-injection V6 engine that develops 291 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 262 lb.-ft. of torque. An 8-speed automatic transmission is standard and an all-wheel drive system is available optionally. The gas-powered model is easy to drive and offers decent performance, although handling is an area of improvement for the team developing the next-gen Telluride.

The Telluride clearly needs to improve its fuel economy game, and hybrid technology can help it overcome this limitation. It currently delivers a combined (EPA-est.) 23 MPG (FWD)/21 MPG (AWD). Another common complaint in the three-row mid-size SUV is that it’s a bit noisy. Hybrid technology will greatly help in this area as well, as the powertrain can operate on EV mode when starting up and at low speeds.

EV9: Fully-electrified alternative to the Telluride Hybrid

Kia’s current focus is on scaling volumes of its flagship EV, the Kia EV9, which began reaching U.S. dealerships towards the end of last year. The E-GMP-based electric SUV belongs to the same segment as the Telluride and offers better performance and oodles of space, comfort, and convenience. Although it may be significantly more expensive than a potential Telluride Hybrid, it would be cheaper to drive, maintain, and provide significant savings over 100,000 miles of ownership.

2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line AWD
Given the prices of the EV9 and many American consumers reluctant to go down the path of all-electric, it makes sense to have a three-row hybrid SUV in the line-up until around 2030 at least.

TopElectricSUV says

The Telluride presents a formidable option for families in search of a unique mid-size three-row SUV, deviating from the conventional American and Japanese vehicles that have dominated the market for years. Its interior impresses with its superior quality, comfort, technology, and generous space. However, the disappointing fuel economy subtracts from its appeal as a daily driver, leading to higher operating costs. Electrification through a hybrid or plug-in hybrid system can address this concern, and Kia appears to have a plan to pursue at least one of those options for the Telluride in the future.