Thursday, July 2, 2020


Kia has added another vehicle to its growing fleet, and to the surprise of nobody save, perhaps, a monk in far off Tibet, it is another crossover SUV.

Classed as a subcompact, the 2021 Kia Seltos — Seltos comes from Greek mythology, Celtos being the son of Hercules — slots in between the company’s popular Soul and Sportage at about the same starting price point as the company’s Niro crossover.

But while the Niro comes in hybrid, plugin hybrid, and all-electric forms, the Seltos is offered with conventional gasoline-fueled powertrains. LX, S, and EX trims get a  2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and S 1.6T and SX trims a 1.6-liter turbo GDI 4-cylinder..

The former is rated at a so-so 146 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque while the 1.6 turbo delivers heftier numbers of 175/195, respectively.

The 2.0-liter engine is mated to a continuously variable transmission, the turbo to a 7-speed dual clutch tranny. Comfort, Smart, and Sport modes adjust throttle responses to your current mindset, Smart being somewhat of a combination of the other two as it adjusts to the way your are driving.

All-wheel drive also is available on the Seltos.

This review is based on the top-of-the-line SX that comes with the 1.6-turbo engine that in addition to the power numbers earned EPA ratings of 25 miles-per-gallon city, 30 highway and 27 combined.

It comes with the dual-clutch tranny, AWD  and a laundry list of standard and included features. Among them are LED headlights and fog lights, LED daytime running lights and tail lights, heated front seats, leatherette and cloth seat trim, Bose premium sound system, 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, keyless entry and push-button start, Smart (adaptable)  cruise control, wireless phone charger, remote start, automatic temperature control, rear USB charge port, and a cargo cover.

In addition to the usual collection of seatbelts and air bags, safety systems include forward collision avoidance, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assist and lane-departure warning, driver attention warning (wake up, fool!), and high-beam assist. The rear view camera features dynamic guidelines to reflect your turning angle.

Infotainment features run via voice command or an 10.25-inch touchscreen and include navigation and a suite of features built in Kia’s UVO telematics that help you find where your parked your car and send emergency information.

The Seltos SX rides on standard 18-inch wheels and is 172 inches long with a wheelbase of 103.5 inches. Inside, front-seat riders get 40 inches of legroom while those in the back get  38.4. The Seltos seats five comfortably though getting three adults in the back could be a bit of a squeeze.

Cargo room is a generous 26.6 cubic feet behind the second row and a spacious 62.8 cubic feet with the second-row seats folded.

The Seltos SX carries a starting MSRP of $27,890. Adding in a couple of extras like a special color, carpeted floor mats, and the $1,120 destination and delivery ran the bottom line for my test vehicle to $29,485. The base Seltos LX starts at just under $22,000.

What I liked about the 2021 Kia Seltos: It’s surprisingly roomy overall, both for passengers and their stuff, especially for its class. The infotainment system is very user-friendly, and it responds readily to voice commands. The SX trim is on the expensive side but is well equipped. Navigation is standard and Bose Premium Sound is included at no extra cost in this top-of-the-line model. The 1.6-liter turbo packs a pretty nice punch and mileage is decent as well. The exterior styling is more mainstream than its slightly smaller, older Kia Soul sibling.

What I didn’t like about the 2021 Kia Seltos: The “Starbright Yellow” body color is not for me, and certainly not worth an extra $345. Ventilated front seats (not available) would be a nice addition. Also, for those who like to select gears automatically, paddle shifters could be more convenient to use than the shifter on the center console.

Would I buy the 2021 Kia Seltos? Yes. If you are in the market for a subcompact SUV, the Seltos definitely should be on your shopping list.

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