Like the ever-expanding small sport utility vehicle (SUV) segment, Kia’s SUV lineup grew a bit larger in 2021 with the introduction of the Seltos, the middle sibling between the Soul and Sportage models. Latino Traffic Report recently test drove the 2021 Seltos EX with all-wheel drive (AWD) and found that it’s much more than a triplet, it’s a true individual.
Available in five trims, the as-tested EX also sits in the middle of the Seltos lineup. The all-new model bears a distinct exterior, holding onto the tiger nose grille, but its headlamp design could get it mistaken for a Ford, at first glance. Although the test model did not include it, the optional two-tone roof would have individualized the Seltos a bit more.
The advantage of a smaller SUV is improved fuel economy and the Seltos does have an impressive EPA estimated fuel economy of 27 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.
It’s achieved with a powertrain that includes a 2.0-liter four-cylinder MPI engine producing 146 horsepower and 132 lb.–ft. of torque, matched to an Intelligent Variable Transmission. It averaged 32.2 mpg on the week-long test drive. A 1.6-liter Turbo GDI engine is available on other trims. Three drive modes, Normal, Eco, Sport, also help maximize the fuel economy and performance.
Inside, the Seltos fluctuates between plain and flashy. The 3.5-inch gauge cluster displays information in an understated black and white, but the stereo includes molded speaker covers in an interesting fractal pattern, heated front seats in a black Sofino leatherette and cloth combination, an eight-inch touchscreen compatible to Apple Car Play or Android Auto, and steering wheel-mounted controls. XM satellite radio, however, was missing. The SX trim adds mood lighting that changes color and intensity based on volume level.
As the name implies, utility is required for an SUV and the Seltos offers 60/40
split rear seats that fold flat as well as recline. Enhanced by a dual-level cargo floor, cargo room reaches 62.8 cubic feet.
The EX trim not only brings AWD for enhanced on-road confidence, it also includes a larger list of standard features, especially on the safety side, like the blind spot collision warning and avoidance assist, rear cross traffic alert (a nice complement to the standard forward collision warning), and a rear seat reminder that alerts owners to check for valuables in the rear seat before exiting the car. Other options included on the test model were a power sunroof, a smart key with remote start, a wireless phone charger, and 17-inch alloy wheels with a striking machine finish.
Starting price on the 2021 Seltos is $23,110. The as-tested price came to $26,885.
Sí: The Seltos offers good fuel efficiency and utility.
No: The display is plain and a blind spot monitor is not standard equipment on all trim levels.