If you happen to read the automotive press frequently, you won’t be surprised to learn that SUVs are becoming more popular these days. In the United States, the subcompact models are making significant progress in our market. The Hyundai Kona now dominates this hotly contested category, with more than 76,253 units sold in the country in 2020.
Meanwhile, Kia’s answer to this competition is the 2021 Kia Seltos. It is bigger than a Soul or a Niro, but smaller than a Sportage, and sits between these models in the range. The direct rivals are of course the Mazda CX-30, the Nissan Qashqai, the Honda HR-V, the Subaru Crosstrek and its cousin the Hyundai Kona. Furthermore, Kia Seltos is larger than the Kona, which helps to improve the interior space.
Stay tuned to Gazettely’s 2021 Kia Seltos review as we are going to take a close look at all the aspects of the newest Kia sub-compact SUV.
Interior Design: Practical and Convenient
The front passenger space is about the same for both Korean cousins. However, Kia offers more headroom and legroom for rear passengers thanks to its bigger body size.
Furthermore, the cargo space is considerably larger in the Seltos. With the rear seats in place, Kia offers 752 liters of capacity, 208 liters more than that of the Kona! The load sill is a bit high, but the boxy shape allows you to fit a lot of stuff in without any problems.
Inside, the dashboard is pretty typical of Kia vehicles. The design is not particularly original, although the controls are well laid out. The controls are simple and logical to use, and except for the lack of a rotary knob to control the air conditioning, there’s really nothing to criticize in terms of ergonomics.
The infotainment system, which is amongst the most intuitive in the industry, also merits praise for being so easy to operate. You can use the touch interface or shortcut buttons located under the screen.
The build quality is good, but a Mazda CX-30 is clearly better, particularly when you compare it to the top-of-the-line models.
Exterior Design: Who’s Hyundai Kona?
When it comes to design, there is no apparent resemblance to a Hyundai product. Instead, the Seltos has a more adventurous look, with a front end that embodies the company’s latest design language with a touch of Telluride and a hint of Sportage. Meanwhile, the rear end is more conventional, but still stylish, nearly resembling a Chevrolet Trailblazer.
Driving Experience: Not sporty but pleasant
The Seltos does well on the road. Its handling is good, the steering is precise and its dynamic capabilities are up to the task. During our test drive, the Seltos had a very comfortable ride.
The Kia Seltos is reasonably stiff and never cracked or rattled, even when driven a little more aggressively. There are some body movements when you push it a little harder on a curvy road, but in everyday use, this won’t affect the ride.
The braking system also does a good job, and the pedal feel helps you to adjust the deceleration in the right way.
2021 Kia Seltos Engine Options
Engine-wise, the range is the same as in the Kona. The standard 4-cylinder engine (2.0 liters) produces 146 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque. It is coupled with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). This powerplant is available in both front- and four-wheel drive configurations
Also available in the top-of-the-line version (SX Turbo) is an optional 4-cylinder engine. However, with the help of its turbocharger, the 1.6-liter small-block offers 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. A dual-clutch transmission with 7 gears is available with this engine.
The 2.0-liter engine offers decent performance, similar to what the competition is offering. The main issue is that it’s too noisy when pushed to the limit, because the CVT makes the 4-cylinder engine rev up quite high. Conversely, it becomes quiet again once the speed is stabilized. Fuel consumption was 8 l/100 km during our test drive, according to the dashboard display.
The turbo 4-cylinder engine provides better acceleration and quicker response, which enhances the driving experience. Thanks to the extra power, the engine is also less harsh when you push hard on the throttle. Overall, the dual-clutch transmission does a good job, but there is some jitter at low speeds and in congestion. This becomes even more apparent when you engage the “Sport” mode, as the gas pedal becomes more sensitive.
Although the 1.6-liter turbo engine offers better performance, it also burns more fuel. On the day of our test drive, the display ranged between 9 and 10 L/100 km on average. If you put your foot down more, the maximum value reached will be around 11.5 L/100 km.
How much does 2021 Kia Seltos cost?
The Seltos is very well priced and has the potential to hurt the competition because it is well equipped for the asking price.
The base LX model with the 2.0-liter engine and front-wheel drive starts at $24,905 (including shipping and processing). For that money, you get 16-inch alloy wheels, an eight-inch screen infotainment system with standard Apple Car Play and Android auto, blind spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert.
Spend $2,000 more for the LX AWD with all-wheel drive, which also includes 17-inch wheels and a differential lock system. This model should be the best seller in North America.
At the very top of the range, the SX Turbo ($34,505, including shipping and processing) features a 1.6L turbo engine and a very comprehensive equipment list. But the two-tone models we tested will not be available in all of North America, even as an option.
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2021 Kia Seltos Specs
In this section ot 2021 Kia Seltos review, we will take a look at the subcompact SUV’s specs.
2021 Kia Seltos Review – Bottom Line
In the end, we have to say that Kia has done a great job with this vehicle. In offering a subcompact SUV that’s more spacious than the competition, well-equipped for the price, with standard Apple Car Play and Android Auto, and available with all-wheel drive, Kia is addressing the main demands of buyers of this type of vehicle.
- Good price/equipment value.
- Spacious interior and cargo area
- Comfortable ride
- Powerful and fun-to-drive 1.6L turbo engine
- Logical and well laid out controls
- Noisy 2-liter engine when pushed hard
- Some transmission jitters with the 7-speed gearbox
In our 2021 Kia Seltos review, we tried to answer all your questions regarding this subcompact SUV. However, if you have any other questions about Seltos, let us know in the comments section below.