We may earn a commission if you make a purchase through one of our links. The LA Times editorial staff was not involved in the creation of this content. Learn more

2021 Kia Seltos Review


Kia muscles in on the rapidly-growing subcompact crossover market with its unique value proposition and quirky style.

The 2021 Kia Seltos competes in the subcompact crossover segment. With a segment explosion as of late, the all-new Seltos makes a case for itself as a practical blend of performance, technology, and cargo space.

Primary Competitors:

  • Honda HR-V
  • Subaru Crosstrek
  • Toyota C-HR
  • Hyundai Kona
  • Mazda CX-3
  • Chevrolet Trax
  • Buick Encore GX
  • Jeep Renegade
  • Ford EcoSport
  • Nissan Kicks

Kia provided us with a 2021 Kia Seltos SX Turbo AWD to test out for a week.

Quick specs:

  • Starting MSRP excluding destination: S FWD $21,990, LX AWD $21,990, S AWD $23,490, EX AWD $25,290, S 1.6T AWD $25,490, SX AWD $27,890
  • As tested price: $29,485.00
  • 1.6L 4 cyl turbo engine 175 horsepower/195 lb-ft torque
  • 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission
  • 235/45R18 all-season tires, 18” alloy wheels
  • 1st row/2nd row Headroom w/o Sunroof (Inches): 40.0/38.4
  • 1st row/2nd row Legroom (Inches): 41.4/38.0
  • Cargo volume rear seats up/down (CU.FT.): 26.6/62.8
  • Fuel Tank (Gals): 13.2
  • Fuel Economy (City/Highway/Combined): 25/30/27
  • NHTSA Overall Safety Rating: Not Rated as of 5/27/20

The 2021 Kia Seltos is an all-new subcompact crossover; its North American debut was at the Los Angeles International Auto Show in 2019. The entry-level SUV market has exploded thanks to new vehicles becoming increasingly expensive and everyone clamoring to ditch their sedans for SUVs. Luckily for consumers who purchase a Seltos, they will be rewarded with a vehicle that oozes character and a sense of adventure - all while having the latest tech and safety features at a reasonable price.

How does the Kia Seltos drive?

The Seltos offers two engine choices: a 2.0L naturally aspirated 4 cylinder or a 1.6L turbo 4 cylinder, which our test car was equipped with. The turbo engine coupled with a quick-shifting 7-speed dual-clutch transmission had plenty of verve to move the 3,300lb SUV. Shifts were relatively smooth with them being more noticeable at lower speeds, which is an inherent characteristic of DCTs. As is typical with turbocharged engines, there's enough torque at lower RPMs to keep up with traffic in city environments or smartly accelerate up freeway on-ramps.

What tech features does the Seltos have?

The Kia Seltos packs a hefty amount of tech, borrowing some from its big brother, the Telluride. LED headlights come standard on SX Turbo while LED Daytime Running Lights are standard on all but the base LX trim. An 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto comes standard while a 10.25-inch touchscreen - the same size as the upgraded Telluride unit - is standard on SX Turbo. It’s bright, responsive, and gives the subcompact SUV an upscale feel. Wireless phone charging is standard only on the SX Turbo but all trims come with USB Audio Input and charging ports.

In addition to the larger touchscreen, the SX Turbo is equipped with a Bose Premium Audio System and sound-connected mood lamps throughout the cabin. The LED lights will pulsate in sync with the audio being played back through the system. It livens up the interior at night and further adds to the fun vibe of the Seltos.

Is the Seltos safe?

Kia offers an abundance of available safety features called “Kia Drive Wise” Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS). Every Seltos comes equipped with Forward Collision Avoidance, Driver Attention Warning, High Beam Assist, Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist, Lane Following Assist, and Rear Occupant Alert. Safe to say, you’re getting a plethora of safety features without having to pay extra.

Is the Seltos comfortable?

One of the most surprising aspects of the Seltos is how easy it is to live with on a daily basis. Thanks to its boxy shape and large windows, the interior feels cavernous and airy. The Seltos is a couple inches larger in key exterior dimensions compared to the Mazda CX-3; in fact, it's very similar in terms of overall proportions to the Subaru Crosstrek. The front seats feature a "just right" amount of padding - not so firmly that extended seat time causes fatigue, but not so soft that you sink into the cushions. The rear seats have a two-stage reclining seatback, but rear air vents are reserved for the top trim model. Kia’s synthetic leather, SOFINO, feels good enough to trick passengers into thinking it's the real deal.

All of the driving aids make the Seltos an ideal commuting partner. Standard on SX Turbo are Highway Driving Assist and Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go; with these systems paired, the Seltos could take mild curves and bring the vehicle to a full stop in traffic and resume normal cruising speed - all without driver input.

What is Bestcovery's verdict?

Although the Seltos is aimed at the entry level SUV segment, it feels a step above its peers. From the large infotainment screen, optional two-tone color scheme, and generously-sized interior, the Seltos, like many Kia vehicles, offers a value proposition many of its direct competitors cannot match. Add Kia’s great 5 year/60,000 mile bumper to bumper and 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty, and you have a winning compact SUV that truly earns its spot in your driveway.

Bestcovery Staff
Our research team searches out the best of everything so that you can confidently pick the perfect products and services for your needs.
Related Content
Go to top