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2021 Kia Seltos Review | Value Plus By Larry Nutson


2021 Kia Seltos (select to view enlarged photo)

Value plus

By Larry Nutson
Executive Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel


It seems you never can have enough SUVs these days. Automakers keep loading the market with new models. For the new vehicle buyer that’s a good thing with more to choose from. Kia is not missing out and just added the new Seltos to its lineup. 

The 2021 Kia Seltos is an all new, entry-level model in the subcompact crossover class. In the Kia lineup it fits between the Soul and the Sportage. Out in the marketplace it competes against its sister brand Hyundai Kona and also the likes of the Mazda CX-3, Ford EcoSport, Nissan Kicks and a wide range of entries from many brands.

With a 172 inch overall length, the 5-seat Seltos is the right size for negotiating a crowded large city. Out in the burbs it will do just as well, offering decent interior space in a compact exterior while leaving space for household tools and toys in your garage. 

Seltos is available in five trims: LX, EX, S 2.0L, S 1.6T and SX with two engine choices. Standard is a 146-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission. A 175-horsepower turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic delivers more go power. The S 2.0L trim is front-wheel drive, while all other trims come standard with all-wheel drive.


2021 Kia Seltos (select to view enlarged photo)

There’s 7.3 inches of ground clearance so you can travel some unpaved roads or also to help you make it through some deepish snow. Rear cargo area is a roomy-for-its-size 26.6 cu.ft. that opens up to 62.8 cu.ft. with the rear seat folded. There’s also a two-level rear cargo floor to help with carrying a big item. 

All in all there’s decent interior space in the Seltos that makes it a suitable choice for individuals or couples of varying generations wanting a subcompact SUV. 

On the outside the Seltos’ styling is eye catching and attractive. It looks like an SUV and has some nice upscale design details. Skid plates up front and in the rear suggest a bit of off-roading. Dual exhaust outlets help provide the power image.

The 2021 Kia Seltos offers a full array of advanced driver-assistance safety (ADAS) features packaged in Kia’s Drivewise Technology. Seltos tech features include an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a wireless charging pad, and an eight-speaker Bose sound system. An optional 10.25-inch screen with navigation is available.

The 2021 Seltos pricing starts at $21,990. Interestingly, both the front-drive S trim and the all-wheel drive Seltos LX are priced at this. The Seltos S with AWD is $23,490, the Seltos EX is $25,290, Seltos S 1.6T is $25,490 and 2021 Setos SX tops out at $27,890. Add the $1,220 destination charge to each.

Kia offers a selection of port installed options. The only two factory installed options are a power sunroof for $700 and two-tone or bi-color paint (black or white roof) for $345.


2021 Kia Seltos (select to view enlarged photo)

For my Chicagoland evaluation I drove an 2021 Kia Seltos S AWD with the 175-HP 1.6-L turbo engine. This engine delivers plenty of punch and the 7-speed DCT did a nice job of getting the right gears. Different drive modes (Normal, Eco, and Sport) can be selected that change powertrain, drivetrain and steering mapping to make for more fun or increased economy. Some folks comment about the different feel of a DCT compared to a traditional automatic with a torque converter. Well yes, there is a slight different feel, but that’s not a bad thing.


2021 Kia Seltos (select to view enlarged photo)


2021 Kia Seltos (select to view enlarged photo)

The 2021 Kia Seltos interior is quite comfortable with a good driving position. I didn’t notice any objectionable wind, tire or powertrain noise during my drives. There’s a couple old-school elements on the S-trim like a key-operated ignition and rotary controls for HVAC. Note that push button start and automatic HVAC control are equipped on the EX and SX. There’s no shift paddles, but that’s okay. Not every vehicle should have them. The 2021 Kia Seltos touchscreen is easy to access and knobs are used for audio control, with redundant steering wheel controls.

EPA test-cycle ratings for the 2021 Kia Seltos 1.6-L turbo are 25 city mpg and 30 highway mpg. The Seltos 2.0-L is rated a touch better at 27 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. I didn’t make any fuel economy runs but my experience with Kia vehicles is that it’s quite easy to meet and also beat the EPA ratings.

More official information and details on the 2021 Kia Seltos can be found HERE Note Kia’s strong 5 year/60,000 mile basic warranty including roadside assistance.


2021 Kia Seltos (select to view enlarged photo)

SUVs are no doubt so popular because they provide great versatility. From the smallest to the largest there is something to meet everyone’s needs. It’s important to figure out your needs and not buy too little or too much. The 2021 Kia Seltos will work well as the only vehicle in a household of perhaps a young couple with a toddler or two, or for some empty nesters who need a bit of versatility for a weekend road trip.

Kia has been on a roll. They won big at the 2020 World Car Awards with the Telluride named ‘World Car of the Year’ and the Soul EV ‘World Urban Car’. And, the Kia brand overall has received many accolades and awards.

Now with the new 2021 Kia Seltos offering a really good value with an upscale look across various trim levels to meet an individual’s needs Kia continues to deliver.

© 2020 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy

2021 KIa Seltos Dimensions