2021 Kia Seltos first drive review: The hits keep coming

Nancy J. Delong

Elegant, roomy and unexpectedly top quality, the new Kia Seltos is indisputably superb. This little crossover is the hottest in a very long series of hits from the South Korean automaker, a conga line of autos that includes types like the Soul, the Stinger and, most a short while ago, the […]


Elegant, roomy and unexpectedly top quality, the new Kia Seltos is indisputably superb. This little crossover is the hottest in a very long series of hits from the South Korean automaker, a conga line of autos that includes types like the Soul, the Stinger and, most a short while ago, the Telluride 3-row SUV.

Placing the screws to rivals like the Ford EcoSport, Honda HR-V, Nissan Kicks and Toyota C-HR, the Seltos is a little crossover created to squeeze in between the funky-wanting Soul hatchback and slightly much larger Sportage utility car or truck.

Location this Kia apart from those types and its primary rivals, the Seltos is supposed to be some thing of an off-roader. Clearly, it truly is no Jeep Wrangler, but there is some true substance beneath that challenging styling, a bit of steak to go with the sizzle. Ground clearance actions seven.three inches, the exact amount you get in a Honda Pilot. This vehicle’s tactic and departure angles each and every clock in at 28 degrees, creating it reasonably handy off street. Ultimately, a nifty all-wheel-push technique with a locking centre differential is available in specific trim levels, which can evenly break up torque in between the entrance and rear axles for improved traction in slippery, sloppy or in any other case severe ailments. What is actually not so neat are the entrance and rear “skid plates.” They may perhaps search to provide some handy protection, but they are nothing but flimsy plastic.

The Seltos is accessible in 5 distinct grades. Serving foundation duty is the reasonably priced LX version stepping up from there you can get an ES product, an S 2., S 1.6T or the range-topping SX, which is what I’m testing listed here. As for pricing, this car or truck kicks off at $23,110 including spot prices, which are $1,a hundred and twenty.

Kia is killing it with interiors these days, and the Seltos’ cabin is one more example of that terrific operate. Of course, virtually every little thing inside of is designed of difficult plastic, but nothing is blatantly inexpensive. The buttons and switches sense great, there are loads of appealing textures and develop good quality is superb. Practically all Seltos types come with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and change knob, nevertheless EX and SX versions also feature a wi-fi charging pad, leatherette seating surfaces and force-button start.

An 8-speaker Bose audio technique is standard on major-shelf SX types, ditto for a 10.twenty five-inch, significant-resolution touchscreen. All other versions of the Seltos come with an 8-inch display, nevertheless no make any difference the product, Apple CarPlay and Android Automobile are incorporated.

The Seltos has a wheelbase of 103.5 inches and an over-all duration of 172 inches. That makes it about the exact dimension as a Honda HR-V or Nissan Kicks. These proportions provide generous inside space. With the rear seats up, you get just shy 27 cubic toes of junk-hauling ability fold ’em down and that figure grows to virtually 63 cubic toes, which is just about as much as in a Chevy Equinox.

As with the cargo maintain, this vehicle’s again seat is huge, with loads of home for legs and heads. Entrance or rear, six-foot-tall individuals ought to have no difficulty fitting in the Seltos.

2021 Kia Seltos

The Seltos is a multipurpose hauler.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

By now you may perhaps be inquiring you, “What does Seltos necessarily mean?” Kia states it truly is named just after Celtus, the son of Heracles in Greek mythology. But there is certainly nothing valiant about what’s beneath this crossover’s hood. The foundation engine is a obviously aspirated, 2.-liter 4-cylinder, great for a comparatively dismal 146 horsepower and 132 pound-toes of torque, matched with a consistently variable transmission. What you can definitely want is the up-degree, 1.six-liter turbo. This force-fed dynamo delivers a a lot more livable 175 hp, but a lot more importantly, torque tops out at 195 lb-ft. Producing the most of that output is a seven-pace, dual-clutch transmission.

The Seltos’ foundation engine can be experienced with either entrance- or all-wheel push, but the 1.6T only comes with AWD. Products so geared up ought to return twenty five miles for each gallon all around city, thirty on the freeway and 27 mpg mixed. Normally, without the turbocharged engine or all-wheel push, other versions of the Seltos are slightly a lot more effective.

The Seltos is as tranquil and easy as anything at all else in the phase, but the powertrain could be enhanced. The Seltos can sense gutless in specific driving predicaments many thanks to an engine that does not come alive until the middle of its rev range and a transmission that’s constantly a pair of gears far too significant. This mixture can significantly hamper small-pace drivability. When you acquire off from a standstill it truly is a bit soft, but even as soon as the car or truck is transferring it feels pokey. The engine does not have adequate off-idle torque to get issues transferring and the gearbox is hesitant to downshift.  

2021 Kia Seltos

This is the up-degree engine, which is great for 175 horsepower.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

The good news is, there is certainly an straightforward solution to this lethargic efficiency: putting the Seltos in activity manner. Not only does this tighten up the steering sense, it also keeps the transmission from likely upshift-outrageous, which makes this car or truck much a lot more satisfying to push. The trade-off, of system, is probable slightly minimized gasoline financial state, but it truly is well worth it in my book.

That seven-pace transmission shifts quickly and is generally easy, but it truly is still not as nice as a standard torque-converter automatic. Occasionally there is certainly a faint juddering sensation when taking off from a quit and it feels gradual when likely from push to reverse or vice versa. 

Aside from the gearbox, I have just one other slight quibble about how this car or truck drives. The brake pedal is far too touchy, resulting in entire-on worry stops when you just preferred to gradual down for a household pace bump. A little amount of pressure goes a very long way in this Kia.

In purchase to retain up with rivals, new vehicles right now are basically required to have a range of state-of-the-art protection technologies, and the Seltos is no exception. The Kia Push Clever suite includes issues like lane-departure warning, automatic significant beams and lane-trying to keep support. These functions are standard on all types, help save the most essential LX trim. Over and above that stuff, you can also get blind-spot checking, rear cross-site visitors collision avoidance support and even adaptive cruise regulate with quit-and-go capacity.

The 2021 Seltos is a terrific addition to Kia’s utility car or truck lineup. Even the thoroughly loaded SX product feels like a great value, checking out for $29,485, including spot. The Seltos is fashionable, with a significant-good quality and spacious inside, plus it gives loads of technologies. Aside from its from time to time-recalcitrant transmission and brake pedal that’s a bit far too delicate, it truly is comparatively straightforward to advocate. 

2021 Kia Seltos

Entrance or rear, the Seltos is a fashionable little crossover.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

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