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.
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.
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.
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.
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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