Building on reputation of reliable brand
Roseville, CA- It’s not like Kia needed another small crossover sport utility vehicle, but that’s just what they did, unveiling the Seltos to start the New Year.
Not only is Kia adding another small SUV to its lineup a bit perplexing, so is labeling it the 2021 Kia Seltos. Not sure why the Seltos is not a 2020 model, but who are we to question Kia, since it has built a reputation for being one of today’s most reliable car brands.
What can’t be argued is the fact that Kia certainly loves its small SUVs. The Seltos slots between the quirky subcompact crossover Soul and the Kia Sportage, a compact crossover SUV. Kia also makes the Niro, a hybrid subcompact crossover SUV. Nothing like competing against yourself, huh!
2021 Kia Seltos
- Performance: 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder, 146 horsepower; turbocharged 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder, 175 horsepower
- Mileage estimate: 27-31 mpg; 29-34 mpg
- Price estimate: $21,900 to $27,900
- Warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles; drivetrain: 10 years/100,000 miles; roadside assistance: 5 years/60,000; corrosion: 5 years/100,000
The Seltos comes in three trims (EX, S, SX) and gives Kia an alternative to folks (like me) who aren’t enamored with the Soul’s funky design and small cargo area. The Seltos has a more traditional appearance, offers better storage room and still comes with an attractive starting sticker price of approximately $22,000.
Kia’s latest small SUV is also equipped with solid performance, an impressive interior makeup that includes a fair amount of available tech, and its fuel economy won’t have one visiting the pumps too often. The Seltos can even do some mild off-roading, thanks to offering optional all-wheel drive, hill descent control and a locking center differential.
Among the Seltos’ competitors – aside from its own in-house SUVs – are the Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona, Mazda CX-3, and Subaru Crosstrek.
The Kia Seltos shares its platform with the Soul and Kona, and has two engine choices. The standard engine is a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder that generates 146 horsepower and132 pound-feet of torque. For a week we drove a Seltos with the upgraded engine, a turbocharged 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder that delivers 175 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque.
We’ve been told that both engines provide good acceleration for a subcompact SUV. That was definitely the case with the turbo model that had no issues navigating along the somewhat steep Sierra range in Lake Tahoe. The turbo engine is also a little better on gas (29-34 mpg) when compared to the base model (27-31 mpg).
Handling while in the mountains or in normal driving conditions was never a problem in the Seltos. The steering wasn’t so responsive that we felt the urge to roar around corners or challenge some of Tahoe’s tricky roadways. Yet we felt safe and comfortable navigating along any surface – Tahoe has some bumpy roads – or traveling along the freeway. The driver-assist features include blind-spot warning and lane-keeping assist.
Kia equipped the Seltos with a good interior package that will please most of its occupants. It has simulated leather upholstery, many soft-touch plastics, and enhances the front cabin with lots of piano-black trim. Also standard is an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality.
The seating will accommodate tall occupants up front and in the rear seats that include two reclining positions for comfort. Three adults in the back is one too many, but that’s almost universal in a subcompact SUV. The cargo area is spacious for the class – 26.6 cubic feet that expands to 62.8 cubes with the 60/40-split rear seats folded down.
The 2021 Seltos gives Kia one more subcompact crossover SUV to choose from in its lineup. It’s a good selection too, a well-equipped small SUV with lots good qualities.