Kia knows how to make a great SUV, just look at the Soul or the Telluride, and now they are adding the Seltos to its lineup for 2021. The Seltos is based on the same platform as the Hyundai Kona, and like its counterpart it offers sharp handling, a roomier cabin, and even more technology. I found that it stood apart from other similar SUVs due to the two-tone roof and stacked headlight design which made it feel more luxurious.
Kia offers two different four-cylinder engines in the Seltos: a 2.0-liter that makes 146 horsepower or a turbocharged 1.6-liter producing 175 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque available from 1,500 rpm to 4,500 rpm. We were able to sample the Seltos S Turbo with the turbocharged 1.6-liter and found its power to be delivered smoothly and it was more than adequate around town or on the highway. While the base engine is paired to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), the turbo comes with a very smooth seven-speed DCT automatic. The non-turbo gets slightly better gas mileage (27 mpg city/31 mpg highway/29 mpg combined vs. 25 mpg city/30 mpg highway/27 mpg combined) but I found that I was regularly beating the average around town.
The S Turbo comes with AWD, but it is optional depending on the model. The Seltos offers a firm and smooth ride and handling is certainly sharp for an SUV as it feels more nimble like a hatchback. Both engines include automatic engine stop/start to improve efficiency, and I left this system engaged during all of my driving. It works with impressive smoothness, but if you don’t like it you can shut it off with the press of a button.
Outside the Seltos wears the latest interpretation of Kia’s tiger nose grille design. Most versions have projector beam headlights mounted between upper LED running lights and turn signals, and lower fog lights. Overall, this is a tidy, balanced, and attractive design, and the optional two-tone paint looks great, giving the SUV extra personality.
Inside, the Seltos offers noticeable space for 4 adults and cargo and the materials used throughout the cabin are well-chosen and refined enough to seem right at home. If you need to load up, you can fold down the rear seats to provide almost 63 cubic feet of cargo space, which is more than most SUVs of this size offer. Unfortunately, you are unable to get leather in the 2021 Seltos. Instead, Kia’s Sofino leatherette trims the seats in the S and S Turbo, and covers them in the Seltos EX and SX Turbo. Heated front seats are available or standard on most versions of the Seltos, but you can’t get ventilated front seats which we think is a mistake on this vehicle.
Like most Kia vehicles we have reviewed the Seltos goes all-in on the technology and safety front. Most of today’s advanced driving systems, from forward collision warning to blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control, are available. It also borrows the three-row Lane Following Assist feature, which helps keep the Seltos in the center of its lane. Overall, these systems work pretty well, and Kia has also made it easy to disable the systems one by one or all together if you don’t like them.
The control layout is simple, with clearly marked buttons, useful knobs, and an easily accessible infotainment system located high on the dashboard. All Seltos models feature an 8″-touchscreen infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, except for the SX Turbo, the top trim version of the SUV has an impressive 10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation and a Bose premium sound system and sound-connected mood lighting. Depending on which model you choose, the Seltos can also be equipped with a wireless smartphone-charging pad, up to three USB ports, a head-up display, and a 7.0-inch color display in the gauge cluster. Our S Turbo test vehicle came with extras such as 18-inch wheels and rear cross-traffic alert and avoidance, sticker price as tested was $26,740 including delivery and carpeted floor mats.
Kia’s warranty is still the best in the industry and the company continues to offer the 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain coverage on its models while offering a Limited warranty which covers 5 years or 60,000 miles. Overall I like the 2021 Kia Seltos. Along with other popular models such as the Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona and Mazda CX-3, it’s an appealing pick for an extra-small crossover SUV. In the end the 2021 Kia Seltos delivers style, size, performance, and value. Bigger inside than most small SUVs, priced below $30,000 with nearly every available option, and equipped with Kia’s legendary warranty, the 2021 Seltos really does demand your consideration.
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