The 2021 Kia Seltos is offering something different in the small SUV segment. Where rivals such as the Honda HR-V and Toyota CH-R are more oriented towards on-road performance, the Kia Seltos is available with standard all-wheel-drive like the Subaru Crosstrek and Jeep Compass.
The Seltos is the latest addition to Kia’s growing portfolio. It slots nicely between the Soul and Sportage, but it inherited the rugged boxy design cues of the award-winning Kia Telluride.
The Kia Seltos may be small, but it’s capable of tackling the rough stuff
The new Kia Seltos is not exactly diminutive. It’s only a couple of inches shorter than the Sportage and is slightly longer than the Niro EV. But with an available active on-demand all-wheel-drive system, it utilizes the same components found in the Telluride’s all-wheel drivetrain.
We’re talking about a center locking differential which splits power evenly between the front and rear wheels. It also has torque vectoring that automatically feeds power to the wheels with better traction to offer enhanced handling and stability.
And with 7.2-inches of ground clearance, the Seltos is better equipped to tackle the rough stuff.
It’s quite a looker
Our biggest problem with crossovers is the generic design idiom. But with the Seltos, you won’t mistake it for an ordinary crossover. It has a taller front end, chiseled surfaces, and strong character lines similar to the Telluride. The stretched wheelbase is hinting at a roomy interior and comfy ride while the headlights and that signature tiger-nose grille design give it a modern and upscale appearance.
And with an optional two-tone roof along with a sleek and tapering greenhouse, the new Kia Seltos is oozing with character. If you’re growing tired of the curvy or bulbous character lines of other crossovers, the Kia Seltos is like a breath of fresh air.
The Seltos is available with two engine options
Standard fare in the Kia Seltos is a 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated four-banger with 146-horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. The engine is mated to a CVT transmission driving the front wheels in the base model Seltos (with AWD offered across all trim levels).
Meanwhile, Kia is also offering a 1.6-liter direct-injected and turbocharged four-cylinder with 175-horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. The stronger motor is connected to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Both engines are also utilized in the Hyundai Kona, which ironically is competing for dominance in the same niche as the Kia Seltos.
It’s packed with numerous tech features
The Kia Seltos comes with an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system (higher trim models receive a larger 10-inch touchscreen with navigation) along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. You also get wireless charging, USB ports galore, and an 8-speaker Bose premium audio system – the first time Kia partnered with Bose for in-vehicle audio systems.
The Seltos also has a unique notification feature that sends an alert if the vehicle’s been idling for ten minutes. If there’s no action taken, the vehicle turns off the engine automatically. And with Kia’s next-generation connected notifications feature, the Seltos is capable of sending alerts to notify the owner of busted headlight bulbs or low fuel levels.
The Kia Seltos arrives in five trim models
The 2021 Kia Seltos is available in LX, EX, S 2.0L, S 1.6T, and SX trim models. Kia has yet to release pricing and equipment options, but the LX model with AWD is slated to start below $22,000 – effectively making a bang-for-the-buck choice in the small SUV segment.
The 2021 Kia Seltos is scheduled to go on sale in the first quarter of 2020.