It seems like Kia can't miss these days. The Korean-owned automaker lately received the #1 initial quality rating from J.D. Power for the fifth straight year. They've been adding models to the lineup and adding features to their vehicles while still maintaining some of the most affordable prices in the industry.
A great case in point is the Kia Seltos. Introduced in 2020 as a 2021 model year vehicle, the Seltos is technically a subcompact SUV, but you wouldn't know it from looking at it or riding in it. The Seltos provides up to 62.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the front seats, which is more than many larger SUVs. The Seltos feels roomy inside, and comfortable on the road.
The Seltos is available with front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive, and buyers have a choice between two engine and transmission packages. The base engine is Kia's capable 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 146 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. This engine provides good power with a continuously variable automatic transmission. The new engine is Kia's 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, and that one makes 195 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a 7-speed dual clutch automatic, and always comes with all-wheel-drive.
Interestingly, the base Seltos with front-drive starts at $21,990, and the LX with all-wheel-drive costs exactly the same. So there's no price premium to get all-wheel-drive, which is a nice feature for Portland's wet winters. In fact, the price walk from the most basic to the most luxurious Seltos is not quite $6,000, at least before you start adding options. So you can plus up your Seltos without spending a fortune.
Technology is a big part of any new car, and the Seltos is available with a center screen up to 10.25 inches on the diagonal, and an 8-speaker Bose premium sound system. The infotainment supports Apple and Android phone integration, and wireless device charging is available. Once you've had that, you'll never want to be without it.
Kia also offers the "Drive Wise" advanced driver assistance package, which includes luxury vehicle features such as blind spot warning and blind spot collision avoidance, forward collision warning and avoidance. There's also highway driving assist, which under some conditions will hold the Seltos at the speed limit, if you tell it to do so. That can be a great feature, especially if you've had a couple tickets. Lane departure and lane keeping assist are included, and also a steering assist to help you follow the marked lanes. One great new feature is safe exit assist, which looks back to warn you if a car is coming before you open any doors. Finally, there's adaptive cruise control, which follows the prevailing traffic speed and makes commuting much easier.
On the road, the Seltos has plenty of power, but not too much. It's a well-balanced SUV. Some other models like the Mazda CX-30 handle a bit better, but the Seltos is certainly among the top choices available this year. Road-holding is no problem, and you'll feel like you're driving a bigger SUV until it's time to slip into a parking space. One more thing: the Seltos is really good-looking. It's bold without looking like a military vehicle or an off-road rig. This is a great all-around SUV for Northwest drivers, and it's definitely priced to please you.
2021 Kia Seltos
Base price: $21,990
Price as tested: $29,485
Type: Subcompact SUV
Engine: 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (195 hp, 175 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 7-speed dual clutch automatic
EPA estimated mileage: 25/30
Overall length: 172 inches
Curb weight: 3,317 pounds
Final assembly: Gwangju, Korea
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.