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Kia Telluride X-Pro vs. Subaru Forester Wilderness: How Off-Road(ish) Are Today's Crossover SUVs?

Kia Telluride X-Pro versus Subaru Forester Wilderness.jpg
  • Automakers are cashing in on trendy off-road versions of their family crossover SUVs.
  • The Kia Telluride and Subaru Forester, two of our favorite models, both have new off-road trims that take different approaches to the same problem.
  • We wanted to find out if these pricier variants have any actual off-road ability, so we brought them out to the desert to climb stuff.

Subaru has long been a brand that's loyal to adventurers who love a bit of camping and light off-roading. But over the last year or three, a large number of other automakers have been inching their way into the rough-and-tumble crossover SUV segment that Subaru essentially created. We wanted to see if there's any merit baked into this industry trend: Is there real value for shoppers with these models, or is it simply off-road cosplay? We grabbed two of our favorite family-minded crossover SUVs that newly received new off-road trims — Kia Telluride X-Pro and Subaru Forester Wilderness — and headed out into the dirt.

The Telluride has long been one of our favorites, and this new X-Pro variant certainly looks compelling. It features everything we love about the standard three-row Telluride but adds all-terrain tires, a bit more ground clearance and additional cooling for increased capability. The Subaru Forester's new Wilderness trim takes things a step further, with even more ground clearance, revised gearing and a more capable X-Mode drive setting for when the going gets rough. These two models aren't competitors, and this really isn't a comparison test. We know neither of them has the capability of a Ford Bronco or a Jeep Wrangler, but they also ask you to make fewer on-road compromises, making them far more appealing for everyday living.

We just want to know if off-road trims like these are worth the extra money. There's only one way to find out, so we pitched these two together for a series of challenges to see how capable they really are. (Don't worry, we even brought along our long-term Ford Bronco as a benchmark vehicle for a little extra perspective.)

Check out our video here to follow along on our adventure.

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Edmunds says

If you're not doing hardcore off-roading, today's crop of off-road-minded crossovers might take you farther than you think.