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The new crossover is sized between subcompact and compact models, which turns out to be a good fit

COURTESY KIA MOTORS AMERICA - The 2021 Kia Seltos is a stylish small crossover that can be comes in a variety of trim levels to meet every need.The 2021 Kia Seltos is remarkable for many reasons. For starters, it is an incredible value for a smallish crossover, beginning at under $24,000 with a long list of standard equipment. And it tops out at less than $30,000 with a luxury-level interior.

The real genius of the Stelos is its size and sophistication, however. When we say "smallish," we mean it slots in between Kia's subcompact Soul and the company's compact Sportage. That may sound like a small wedge to fit, but in fact, the size makes a lot sense. Subcompacts are best for two people, but even many active couples with small children don't really need that much more space.

COURTESY KIA MOTORS AMERICA - The 2021 Kia Seltos is designed to look good coming or going.

But the Seltos more than excels on it own merits. For starters, it looks great, with aggressive exterior styling and a clean contemporary interior. There's a surprising amount of front and rear seat space, thanks in large part to a deceptively upright design. And all-wheel-drive is standard on all but the base model. It even includes a locking center differential for added traction in mud and snow.

The base engine is a 2.0-liter four that produces 147 horsepower and comes with a Continuously Variable Transmission. The optional upgrade is a turbocharged 1.6-liter turbocharged four with a healthy 175 horsepower mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

COURTESY KIA MOTORS AMERICA - The interior of the 2021 Kia Seltos is very room and can be outfitted to near luxury levels.

That is what came in our top-of-the-line SX Turbo version, which was surprisingly refined for such a small vehicle. For starters, it was incredibly quiet on the road, even at freeway speeds. Aside from a few hard plastic bits, the interior was much more upscale that most competitors. Acceleration was even better than expected. And the overall ride made it feel like a much larger vehicle.

The infortainment system includes a standard 8.0-inch touchscreen that is upgraded to 10.3 inches on higher trim levels. Likewise, Likewise, the standard 3.5-inch instrument cluster display can be replaced with a more impressive 7.0-inch unit. Even the base model has many safety features, although the most comprehensive package is only available on the SX Turbo.

COURTESY KIA METORS AMERICA - Three adults can ride in the back seat of the 2021 Kia Seltos, at least for reasonable trips.

Another reason to consider the Seltos is Kia's best-in-class warranty of 10 years or 100,000 miles on the powertrain, plus a five-year or 60,000-mile comprehensive warranty, including free roadside assistance. Kia also received the lowest rate of reported problems among mass-market brands in the J.D. Power 2015-19 U.S. Initial Quality Studies.

Kia has now delivered two world-class new crossovers in just a few months, starting with the midsize three-row Telluride. The newer 2021 Seltos is an equally impressive smaller package.

COURTESY KIA MOTORS AMERICA - The 2021 Kia Seltos has a tremendous amount of cargo space, especially with the rear seats folded down.

2021 Kia Seltos SX Turbo AWD

Base price: $21,990

Price as tested: $29,485

Type: Compact crossover SUV

Engines: 2.0-liter four-cylinder (147 hp, 132 lbs-ft) or 1.6-liter turbocharged (175 hp, 195 lbs-ft) as tested

Transmissions: Continuously Variable Transmission or 7-speed dual-clutch automatic as tested

EPA estimated mileage: up to 29/34 mpg

Overall length: 172 inches

Curb weight: 3,185 pounds

Final assembly: Gwangju, Korea


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