Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: January 13, 2020
MONTREAL, Quebec - The small crossover scene is jam packed with entrants from every conceivable automotive brand, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that SUVs are big money makers. Kia is the latest to expand its SUV portfolio with the new Seltos, a five-seater that splits the difference between the Soul and Sportage. Offering all-wheel drive, two engine choices, and a spacious interior, it appears to be an easy upgrade for Soul owners seeking a bit more space and rear end traction.
We had a chance to check out the new Seltos in person before it was officially unveiled at the Montreal Auto Show, and the sheetmetal is quite handsome in person, shedding off any worries of it becoming just another traffic-camouflaging design. The Seltos will need that extra flair if it wants to steal buyers away from the Nissan Kicks, Hyundai Kona, Toyota C-HR, and Honda HR-V. That, and it commands an attractive starting price of just $22,995 for the base LX model with front-wheel drive. Which is not to say that Kia has skimped out on amenities either. Notable standard features include heated side mirrors, heated front seats, keyless entry, a rear view camera, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities. The LX FWD is in addition to the other four trims available for the 2021 Kia Seltos as listed below:
LX FWD: $22,995
LX AWD: $24,995
EX AWD: $27,595
EX Premium AWD: $30,595
SX AWD: $32,595
The Kia Seltos shares many similarities with the familial Hyundai Kona including choice of powertrains, however the Seltos is actually larger in size, and that pays dividends to interior volume, pushing into the territory patrolled by the Subaru Crosstrek, Jeep Compass, and Nissan Qashqai. More importantly, my six-foot self has no issues with ingress or egress into the front or rear seats. The front cabin is spacious, and the rear cabin has more than enough head- and legroom when I sit behind myself. It feels roomier than the Nissan Qashqai and Jeep Compass, and that feeling is further accentuated by the sunroof that comes with the EX trim and above.
Inside you’ll find the latest tech, including a 7-inch digital instrument cluster and a sizable 8-inch infotainment touchscreen with buttons flanking each side. Once you upgrade to the EX Premium and SX trims, you get a much larger and wider 10.25-inch screen instead. Every panel is finished with black glossy plastics that do a convincing job hiding its more frugal origins. The dials feel solid, as do the switchgear and thickly padded leather steering wheel. Depending on the trim, the entire gamut of wireless charging pads, three USB slots, and a head up display are also available. The Seltos even comes with mood lighting that changes with the audio, much like the Soul. Kia further offers a Bose 8-speaker sound system on higher trimmed models.
The Seltos offers two powertrains. The base 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder delivers 146 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque via a Continuously Variable Transmission. Only by stepping up to the SX Turbo does the Seltos receive the more powerful 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that offers 175 hp and 195 lb-ft instead, sending that output to all four wheels with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. Every model except the LX FWD comes with all-wheel drive and a locking differential.
Kia is betting that the Seltos’ size advantage, along with the suite of safety features and its undeniable value, will make it a worthy adversary in the heated crossover segment. From first impressions, the new Seltos is just that: a compelling offering that successfully marries the best of value, connectivity, and functionality together into one sweet package. We have yet to drive the Seltos, but it’s already on the road overseas in China and India. Expect it to reach our Canadian shores early spring of 2020, and stay tuned for a full review.