2021 Kia Seltos SX Turbo AWD

The Seltos is the brand new subcompact crossover from Kia that fits into the line-up between the Soul and the Sportage. While it has more traditional styling than the quirky Soul, the Seltos still has a fun personality along with optional all-wheel-drive, good fuel economy, an attractive interior, and lots of cargo space.

Like all Kia models, the 2021 Seltos is a great value for the money and comes with a lot of standard and available features. The Seltos is available in five trims: LX, S, EX, S Turbo, and SX Turbo. Starting prices range from $21,990 to $27,890. The LX and S both start at $$21,990. All-wheel-drive is standard on the LX. Front-wheel-drive is standard on the S but it comes with more features than the LX.

The standard engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 146 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission. This powertrain provides enough power for running errands and driving around town, but you’ll want more power when merging and passing at freeway speeds, especially when going uphill.

My tester has the optional 1.6-liter four-cylinder that makes 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with a seven-speed quick-shift DCT automatic transmission. This powertrain provides more oomph but there’s a noticeable turbo lag when you want to accelerate quickly. And the transmission can struggle to find the right gear. Overall, the Seltos is pleasant to drive but if you want perky handling, this will not be your top choice. On the plus side, the Seltos easily scoots around in busy city traffic and tight parking lots. Some road and engine noise is noticeable. Visibility is good all the way around.

Fuel economy is great for the class. EPA ratings for my AWD tester are 25 mpg city and 30 mpg highway with a combined rating of 27. I got 27 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving. The base engine with front-wheel-drive gets 29 mpg city and 34 mpg highway with a combined rating of 31.

While the Seltos is not made for rugged off-roading, it does have a respectable 7.2 inches of ground clearance.

Unlike most small crossovers, five passengers will be comfortable in the Seltos. The interior is pleasant and spacious with more interior volume than most rivals. Even taller passengers in both rows will enjoy good leg- and headroom, and the rear seats recline so back seat passengers can stretch out and snooze on long trips. Fit and finish are decent. You’ll notice a lot of hard plastics but they don’t look low budget.

Standard features include a rearview camera, cloth upholstery, six-way manually adjustable driver’s seat, four-way manually adjustable front passenger seat, reclining rear seats, infotainment system with eight-inch touchscreen, six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, a USB port, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and a rear-seat reminder to check the back seat before exiting the vehicle.

Available features include proximity keyless entry, push-button start, automatic climate control, synthetic leather upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, seven-inch digital instrument display, infotainment system with a 10.25-inch high-resolution touchscreen, eight-speaker Bose premium audio, satellite radio, two additional USB ports, wireless device charging, and a sunroof.

The optional Kia Drive Wise Advanced Driver Assistance Systems include blind spot collision warning, blind spot collision avoidance assist, forward collision avoidance assist with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, lane following assist, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance, automatic cruise control with stop and go (automatically applies the brake or accelerator to maintain a predetermined distance from the vehicle in front, and can bring the vehicle to a full stop and then resume when traffic moves again), driver attention warning (alerts the driver when it senses inattentive driving patterns), rear occupant alert (reminds you to check the rear seats), and safe exit assist (alerts driver or passengers not to open vehicle door when the system detects approaching traffic).

The infotainment system is easy to use and reach but the graphics could be sharper. I like the redundant physical buttons for common functions such as like volume and tuning.

The Seltos has the most cargo space in the class with 26.6 cubic feet behind the rear seats and a whopping 62.8 cubes. The opening is nice and wide with a low load floor making it easy to load large and/or bulky items. The rear seats split-fold 60/40 making it easy to haul passengers and cargo.

The Seltos comes with Kia’s excellent warranty with a five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

The good:

  • Upscale, roomy interior
  • More cargo space than rivals
  • Good fuel efficiency
  • Lots of standard features
  • User-friendly infotainment system
  • Android Auto and Apple CarPlay standard
  • Excellent warranty

The not-so-good:

Handling not as athletic as some rivals

Pricing info:

My tester starts at $27,890. Starbright yellow and black roof paint are $345. Carpeted floor mats are $130. Handling fee is $1,120 bringing the grand total to $29,485.

Bottom line:

Kia is cranking out good small crossovers. The Seltos joins the Soul, Niro and Sportage. While the Seltos has a fun personality, its styling, cargo room, availability of AWD and lots of tech make it a practical and useful vehicle. It’s also a good buy for the money. Check it out if you’re shopping for a small crossover.

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