2021 Kia Seltos Pros and Cons Review: Watch Out, Everybody Else


  • True SUV style
  • Well tuned CVT
  • Surprisingly spacious interior

The inconvenients

  • Some inexpensive interior materials
  • NHTSA Four Star Safety Rating

Start with the styling, where the 2021 Seltos is right about what so many affordable SUVs lack – it looks like an SUV, not a big sedan. Even if you don’t like the character touches provided by the eye-catching details inside and out, the Seltos looks like a bigger SUV than it actually is.

That feeling continues inside, where the Seltos delighted us with its roomy, reclining rear seats. The exceptional package is only slightly marred by the occasional cheap materials driver and passengers will find in the trim line. But that’s expected on an SUV that ranges in price from around $ 23,000 to $ 30,000. What you don’t expect, however, is a refined driving experience.

“In the first 100 feet you can feel the engineering quality of this car,” Editor Scott Evans said of our 2.0-liter FWD tester (shown in white). “It turns sharply and handles body movement well. It drives really well on rough, bumpy roads, better than some of the luxury vehicles here. It’s just a very fun car to drive.”

Several editors complimented the CVT’s tuning – a notable achievement considering we didn’t like Kia’s previous CVT efforts. Higher versions get more power from a 1.6-liter turbo-four mated to a dual-clutch transmission. We have seen this combination in many Hyundais and Kias over the years, with varying results. The Seltos shows that Kia has taken these lessons to heart, delivering smoother shifts without losing the immediacy of the DCT’s quick-change goal.

If it was our money, however, most of us would stick with the 2.0-liter / CVT pair. The car is more responsive than you might think, but it still earns 29/34 mpg city / highway in EPA tests for FWD models or 27/31 mpg with AWD. While subcompact SUVs in general offer underwhelming fuel economy that simply matches the mpg of larger compacts, the Seltos’ efficiency competes near the top of its segment.

Kia still offers value on the top version SX Turbo, which includes the faster 1.6-liter turbo-four of 175 horsepower, quick handling for this type of vehicle and a 10.3-inch touchscreen with the configuration of Kia’s intuitive infotainment – the kind of functionality you wouldn’t expect from a $ 30,000 subcompact SUV. The ride is a bit firm (but not harsh), and a few judges have commented on the 1.6-liter turbo lag. The upgraded leatherette seats also felt a bit rubbery.

Aside from an overall four-star NHTSA safety rating (out of five stars) and an interior with mediocre materials, the 2021 Seltos is very nice, especially with the base engine. Unlike its Soul sibling, the Seltos offers all-wheel drive throughout its lineup, as well as hill descent control and differential lock. And its smart cruise and lane-centering technology is better than some luxury vehicles cost twice as much.

MotorTrend in Spanish Editor-in-chief Miguel Cortina captured our feelings: “The Seltos is convincing in every way. Kia cracked the code on small crossovers.”

Evans adds, “Now the question you should be asking yourself isn’t if the Seltos or the Soul is better, but if you want a city car or an all-terrain car? A beach cruiser or an ATV? It’s not about the best. It’s about preference. “

2021 Kia Seltos S; Kia Seltos SX Turbo T-GDI
TRANSMISSION ARRANGEMENTFront engine, front wheel drive; AWD
TYPE OF ENGINEI-4, block / head of alum; Turbocharged I-4, alum block / head
VALVE TRAINDOHC, 4 valves / cylinder
SHIFTING122.0 cubic inches / 1.999 cc; 97.1 cubic inches / 1591 cm3
COMPRESSION RATIO12.5: 1; 10.0: 1
POWER (SAE NET)146 hp at 6,200 rpm; 175 hp @ 6,000 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET)132 lb-ft at 4,500 rpm; 195 lb-ft @ 1,500 rpm
RED LINE6500 revolutions per minute
WEIGHT TO POWER20.0; 18.5 lb / hp
TRANSMISSIONAuto variable cont; 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
AXLE / FINAL DRIVE / LOW GEAR6.05: 1 / 2.33: 1; 4.63: 1 (1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th), 3.61: 1 (3rd, 6th, 7th, R) / 2.58: 1
SUSPENSION, FRONT; BACKSpacers, coil springs, anti-roll bar; torsion beam, coil springs; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar
BRAKES, F; R15.0, 16.0 inch ventilated disc; Disc 14.0, 15.0 in, ABS
WHEELS7.5 x 17 inches; 7.5 x 18 ” cast aluminum
TIRES215 / 55R17 94V (M + S) Kumho Solis TA31 +; 235 / 45R18 94V Kumo Majesty 9 Solus TA91
TRACK, F / R62.0 / 62.4 in
Length x Width x Height172.0 x 70.9 x 63.6 inches
APPRCH / DEPARTURE ANGLE28.0 / 28.0 degrees
WEIGHT ON BOARD2,927; 3243 pounds
WEIGHT DIST, F / R60/40; 59/41%
HEADROOM, F / M / R40.0 / 38.4 inch
Legs, F / M / R41.4 / 38.0 in
SHOULDER CHAMBER, F / M / R55.5 / 54.7 in
BEH F / M / R LOADING VOLUME62.8 / 26.6 cubic feet
0-303.2; 2.7 seconds
0-404.5; 3.9
0-506.2; 5.6
0-608.3; 7.4
0-7011.0; 9.9
0-8014.3; 13.1
0-9018.6; 17.2
PASSAGE, 45-65 MPH4.2; 3.9
QUARTER MILE16.5 s at 85.5 mph; 15.9 seconds at 86.9 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH122; 117 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION0.77; 0.82g (average)
MT FIGURE EIGHT28.8 s at 0.56 g (average); 27.4 s at 0.63 g (average)
TOP-GEAR TOURS @ 60 MPH1,800; 2000 revolutions per minute
STARTING PRICE$ 23,110; $ 29,010
PRICE TESTED$ 23,585; $ 29,485
AIRBAGS6: double front, front face, f / r curtain
BASIC WARRANTY5 years / 60,000 miles
MOTORPROPELLER WARRANTY10 years / 100,000 miles
ROAD ASSISTANCE5 years / 60,000 miles
EPA CITY / HWY / COMB ECON29/34/31; 25/30/27 mpg
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY / ROAD116/99; 135/112 kW-h / 100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB0.62; 0.72 lbs / mile
RECOMMENDED FUELRegular unleaded

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