2021 Kia Selto's first drive review: the hits keep coming – road show


The new Kia Seltos is stylish, spacious and unexpectedly high quality and undeniably outstanding. This little crossover is the latest in a long line of hits from the South Korean automaker, a conga line of cars that includes models like the Soul, the Stinger, and most recently the three-row Telluride SUV.

Put the screws on rivals like that Ford EcoSport, Honda HR-V, Nissan kicks and Toyota C-HR, The Seltos is a small crossover that is designed to squeeze between the funky looking ones soul Hatchback and a little bigger Sportage Commercial vehicle.

The Seltos distinguishes this Kia from these models and its main competitors and is said to be something of an off-roader. Of course, it's not a Jeep Wrangler, but there is a real substance to this hard styling, a bit of steak that fits the sizzling. The ground clearance is 7.3 inches, the same amount you get in a Honda pilot. The approach and departure angles of this vehicle are 28 degrees each, which makes it reasonably useful off-road. Finally, a sophisticated all-wheel drive system with limited slip differential is offered in certain trim levels, which can split the torque evenly between the front and rear axles to improve traction in slippery, sloppy or otherwise difficult conditions. What is not so cool are the front and rear "underride protection plates". They seem to offer useful protection, but they are nothing but thin plastic.

The Seltos is available in five different qualities. The inexpensive LX version serves as the basis. From there you can purchase an ES model, an S 2.0, S 1.6T or the SX with top performance, which I test here. The price of this vehicle is $ 23,110, including target fees of $ 1,120.

Kia is killing it indoors these days, and the Seltos' cabin is another example of this great job. Yes, almost everything inside is made of hard plastic, but nothing is obviously cheap. The buttons and switches feel good, there are many interesting textures and the build quality is excellent. Almost all Seltos models are equipped with a leather steering wheel and a gear knob. However, the EX and SX versions also have a wireless charging pad, synthetic leather seats and a push button start.

A Bose eight-speaker audio system is standard on premium SX models, as is a 10.25-inch, high-resolution touchscreen. All other versions of the Selto are equipped with an 8-inch display. Regardless of the model, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included.

The Seltos has a wheelbase of 103.5 inches and a total length of 172 inches. It is about the size of a Honda HR-V or Nissan Kicks. These dimensions offer a generous interior. If the back seats are high, you only get 27 cubic feet of garbage transport capacity. Fold it down and that number grows to almost 63 cubic feet, which is about as much as a Chevy Equinox.

As with the cargo area, the back seat of this vehicle is huge and offers plenty of space for legs and heads. At the front or back, 6 foot tall people should have no problem fitting into the seltos.

2021 Kia Seltos

The Seltos is a versatile carrier.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

In the meantime you may be asking yourself: "What does Seltos mean?" Kia says it is named after Celtus, the son of Heracles in Greek mythology. But there's nothing brave about what's under the hood of this crossover. The base engine is a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that is suitable for relatively dark 146 HP and 132 pound-feet of torque and is combined with a continuously variable transmission. What you really want is the high-quality 1.6-liter turbo. This force-fed dynamo delivers 175 HP worth living, but more importantly, the torque is 195 lb-ft. A seven-speed dual clutch transmission makes the best of this performance.

The Selto's base engine is available with either front or all-wheel drive, but the 1.6T is only equipped with all-wheel drive. Models so equipped should return 25 miles per gallon in the city, 30 on the highway and 27 mpg together. Without a turbo engine or all-wheel drive, other versions of the Selto are of course a bit more efficient.

The Seltos is as quiet and smooth as anything else in the segment, but the drivetrain could be improved. The Seltos can feel gutless in certain driving situations thanks to an engine that only comes to life in the middle of its speed range and a gearbox that is always a few gears too high. This combination can significantly affect driving behavior at low speeds. When you stand up, it's a bit soft, but even when the vehicle is moving, it feels pokey. The engine does not have enough idle torque to set things in motion and the transmission is reluctant to shift down.

2021 Kia Seltos

This is the up-level engine that's good for 175 horsepower.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

Fortunately, there is a simple solution to this lethargic feat: putting the Seltos into sport mode. This not only improves the steering feel, but also prevents the transmission from shifting, which makes driving this vehicle much more comfortable. The compromise is, of course, probably a slightly reduced fuel consumption, but it's worth it in my book.

The seven-speed transmission shifts quickly and is mostly smooth, but it's still not as comfortable as a conventional automatic torque converter. Sometimes there is a slight jerk when taking off from a stop and it feels slow when driving from drive to reverse or vice versa.

Apart from the gearbox, I have a little argument about how this vehicle drives. The brake pedal is too sensitive, which leads to panic stops if you only want to slow down for speeding in residential areas. A little pressure is enough in this Kia.

To keep up with the competition, new vehicles today must have a number of advanced safety technologies, and the Seltos is no exception. The Kia Drive Wise Suite includes things like lane departure warning, automatic high beam and lane departure warning. These functions are standard on all models, except for the most basic LX equipment. You'll also get blind spot monitoring, a rear-end collision avoidance assistant, and even adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality.

The 2021 Seltos is a great addition to the Kia range of commercial vehicles. Even the fully charged SX model seems to be a good value and costs $ 29,485 including the target. The Seltos is stylish, with a high quality and spacious interior and offers a lot of technology. Apart from the sometimes stubborn gear and the somewhat too sensitive brake pedal, it is relatively easy to recommend.

2021 Kia Seltos

The Seltos is a stylish, small crossover at the front or rear.

Craig Cole / Roadshow