Price as tested:$27,085
This week, we drive our first 2021 vehicle, namely the all-new Kia Seltos SUV. This “larger subcompact SUV” is a lower-priced selection slotted just below its popular Kia Sportage and just above the smaller subcompact Kia Soul.
Seltos offers surprising room for five from its smaller footprint build and is priced to attract many buyers who are looking for Kia reliability and that now legendary 100,000-mile, 10-year drivetrain warranty.
Classified as a small SUV by the EPA, the new Seltos features a 103.5-inch wheelbase that makes it longer than Kia’s official subcompact Soul (102.4 inches) yet shorter than compact SUV Sportage (105.4 inches). However, all classifications aside, Kia may be ahead of the curve with its sixth distinct SUV/Crossover joining above mentioned Soul and Sportage and fellow siblings Niro, Sorento and Telluride.
The reason Kia now offers six, (yes, count them) Crossover/SUV models? It’s called consumer demand and preference, resulting in Kia quickly adapting to end user statistics and inclinations. For perhaps the last 10 years, the first choice of the modern day consumer is spelled “S-U-V,” resulting in this recent transformation in manufacturing philosophy. To simplify, SUVs (and Crossovers) are today’s bestselling vehicles and Kia is quick to respond and, better yet, cash in.
Our Seltos arrived in S Turbo AWD trim, which slots above the non-turbo Seltos models and costs a bit more. Specifically, the new subcompact starts at just $21,990 for both the LX AWD and S front drive, then moves up to EX 2.0 at $25,290, S Turbo AWD at $25,490, and top line SX Turbo AWD at $27,890. Our Seltos came in at $27,085 including two options of $345 for enhanced paint and $130 for carpeted floor mats and $1,120 delivery.
The 2021 Seltos shares platform and mechanicals with little brother Soul, although Seltos comes off the assembly line with the aforementioned 1.1-inch longer wheelbase and a 6.8-inch longer body length. Under the hood finds two engines available, namely a 2.0-liter fuel injected four-cylinder putting out 146 horsepower and 132 lb. ft. of torque and the more peppy 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder that ups horsepower to 175 with 195 lb. ft. of torque.
Further, the same Soul transmissions ala a CVT, in the non-turbo and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic in the turbo-4 motivate the Seltos. I always opt for automatic transmissions with “real gears,” so the dual clutch turbo models will always be my choice even though they were sluggish a bit in my limited test drive runs. (Nothing to be really concerned about as once my Seltos warmed up there were no longer any low speed hiccups).
On the highway, the little 1.6-turbo delivers impressive acceleration, especially in Sport mode that is one of three driver selectables, the others being Normal and Eco. Similar to other models with these specific modes, selecting Sport mode finds the seven-speed “quick shift” automatic allowing higher RPMs before shifting while the steering delivers a more firm feeling. Not surprising, Sport is my choice although I’m sure it lowers the EPA fuel mileage a bit from its impressive AWD numbers of 25 city and 30 highway. The front drive ups these numbers to 27 and 31, respectively.
Notable is the Seltos AWD system that features a lock mode center differential that is able to deliver grip equally between front and rear tires. The underpinnings feature a MacPherson strut front coupled with a multi-link rear while Kia’s AWD system also makes use of torque vectoring, which increases traction by determining which wheel will best utilize power in any given driving situation. This further enhances stability in corners and gives the Seltos a better grip, overall. If you order the S Turbo AWD, 17-inch tires and nice alloy wheels are replaced by 18-inchers, making for even better grip and ride.
The roomy cabin is well done with a nice gauge cluster and an 8-inch display. The leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter will get some attention as will the standard SiriusXM Bose 8-speaker stereo. Apple and Android compatibility is standard as are three USB charging ports. Heated seating is standard and there’s lots of legroom in the backseat even for a six footer. Your dealer will explain all amenities when you visit or call.
Most impressive is the array of high-tech safety features. Included is the “Kia Drive Wise” advanced driver-assist system that is standard across the line. It combines with a few extra safety items that the S Turbo features to include blind-spot collision warning, blind-spot collision avoidance, driver attention warning, forward collision avoidance, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, lane follow assist, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance, rear backup warning and finally a dynamic rear safety camera with grid lines. Six airbags, all modern traction controls and four-wheel ABS disc brakes top off the category.
Of all the features this new Seltos offers, it is this highly advanced safety system that you just don’t find on cars that retail in the lower to mid-$20K price range. Kia receives an official “Test Drive” pat on the back for this effort.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 103.5-inches, 3,317 lb. curb weight, 7.3 inch ground clearance, 26.6 to 62.8 cu. ft. of cargo space, 34.8-ft. turn circle and a 13.2 gallon fuel tank.
In ending, this new 2021 Kia Seltos is going to be another big winner for the Korean manufacturer so make sure you check for current dealer incentives that will lower the retail price.
Overall, the 2021 Kia Seltos is an outstanding value and sure to please consumers of all ages.
Likes: Roomy, safety features, looks, pricing.
Dislikes: A few more horses would be nice, transmission sometimes searches for gear at low speed.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and Gannett Co. Inc. Contact him at email@example.com or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.
Test Drive column: All-new 2021 Kia Seltos S Turbo AWD