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Kia Seltos: A ‘Right Sized’ CUV

by Ron CoganOctober 18, 2020
‘Right-sized’ crossover SUVs are clearly a hot trend these days, as evidenced by the many downsized models that proliferate on our highways. Happily, gone are the days when legions of massive SUVs with single drivers jammed roadways and parking lots.

Today there are certainly more SUVs around than ever before, but the vast majority are mid-size, compact, and subcompact models that continue to offer the functionality of an SUV, but with the improved fuel efficiency and driving dynamics of a crossover vehicle built on a very un-truck-like unibody platform. Kia’s all-new 2021 Seltos compact SUV is the latest from this automaker to join in on this competitive market.

Appealing Design, Off-road Capable

The Seltos enters Kia’s lineup positioned between the Soul and Sportage models. It offers a handsome design that blends hard angles with flowing contours, featuring a long hood, wrap-around LED headlamps, a chiseled lower front bumper design, and Kia’s signature grille. Seltos rides on either 17- or 18-inch alloy wheels to reinforce its upscale and somewhat aggressive look. While drivers may rarely, if ever, venture off-pavement, the Seltos clearly hints at its off-road capability with integrated front and rear skid plates and black wheel arch cladding. Those wishing to further distinguish their ride can opt for an available two-tone roof treatment.

Fuel-efficient power choices include a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that brings 146 horsepower and 132 lb-ft torque, and connects to a constantly variable transmission. Also available is a turbocharged 1.6-liter GDI engine offering 175 horsepower and 195 lb-ft. torque, which delivers power to the road through a 7-speed dual clutch transmission.

Tailoring the Driving Experience

All-wheel drive is available that pairs torque vectoring control to optimize traction at each wheel, along with differential lock control that splits power equally between front and rear wheels for driving in severe weather. Normal, Eco, and Sport driving modes can be selected to tailor the driving experience by adjusting engine, transmission, and steering characteristics as desired.

Inside, driver and passengers find a surprisingly roomy cabin with an array of thoughtful touches that enhance the drive. A leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob, and leather shift boot speak to a driver’s sensibilities, as does an asymmetrical OLED instrument cluster that angles slightly left for a driver-centric cockpit feel. A 7-inch center display is standard with a 10.25-inch touchscreen display available. Passengers enjoy a two-step reclining rear seat, rear air vents, and USB ports for comfort and convenience.

An array of Kia Drive Wise driver-assistance systems are available including blind spot collision warning and collision avoidance assist, forward collision avoidance, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, smart cruise control with stop-and-go, and more. A rear occupant alert feature reminds a driver to check the rear seats for young passengers if the driver door is opened and a passenger door had been opened and closed. Seltos will offer a base price of about $22,000 when it arrives in dealerships after the first of the year.