ROAD TEST: 2021 Kia Seltos EX

By Shari Prymak

Kia has been on a bit of a roll lately when it comes to their latest lineup of vehicles. Attention-grabbing models like the Stinger have given the brand a welcomed image boost. On the SUV side, the superb three-row Telluride has been a huge hit, often surpassing the popularity of competing SUVs. Kia has kept the crossover SUV momentum going and now offers no less than six different models. The Seltos serves as the entry-point to Kia’s crossover family, and it appears to be yet another well-designed option.

The Seltos is positioned just below the compact Sportage crossover in terms of size and price point. Compared to the boxy-looking Soul which has a similar footprint and price range, the Seltos has a more conventional rounded crossover design. It has a rather stylish overall look with bold details and a few eye-catching colour options that make it look a bit like a scaled down Volvo XC40. It also comes with all-wheel drive on all but the base LX trim, which is a feature that is not offered on either the Soul or Niro Hybrid crossovers. In any case, as far as compact crossovers are concerned, Kia is has just about every niche covered.

Next to styling, technology is another area where the Seltos excels. Kia’s crisp touchscreen infotainment system is well-designed and easy to use with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity on all models. Standard features include heated front seats, blind-spot monitoring, and rear-cross traffic alert. The EX and higher trim levels add forward collision avoidance assist and lane keep assist. Other desirable features on higher trim levels include air cooled front seats, a head-up display, Bose premium sound system, and adaptive cruise control. The adaptive cruise includes Kia’s superb highway driving assist which provides very effective semi-autonomous driving capability. 

Most trim levels come equipped with a naturally-aspirated 2.0L 4-cylinder engine matched to a continuously variable transmission. With 146 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque, it provides adequate performance and a fuel economy rating of 8.8L/100km in the city and 7.6L/100km on the highway. For those wanting more power, the top trim SX Turbo offers a 1.6L turbocharged engine with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission producing a punchier 175 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. Although the additional performance is a bonus, the turbo adds a level of complexity some might not want to bother with. The DCT automatic can be known for somewhat jerky shifting behavior at low speeds that some may find off-putting as well.

The Seltos has a starting MSRP of $22,995 for the LX front-wheel drive and tops out at $32,595 for the SX Turbo. For an MSRP of $27,595, the EX offers a great balance between value and features which many should find attractive. Those wanting all the technology upgrades without the complicated turbo engine and DCT can go with the EX Premium. For $30,595, it includes a wider 10.25 inch infotainment display, smart keyless entry, wireless smartphone charging, UVO connected services, and the highway driving assist with adaptive cruise control.

The small crossover segment has quickly become a crowded space filled with compelling options. Some of these include the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-30, Subaru Crosstrek, Nissan Qashqai, and Hyundai Kona. The Seltos is an attractive choice, offering excellent value for money within its segment. In addition to being loaded with desirable features and technology, it also includes the longest comprehensive warranty coverage at 5 years or 100,000km for added peace of mind. Of course, Kia offers much of the same with the Soul or Niro. The Seltos just gives buyers one more option to help satisfy their insatiable appetite for crossovers.