The Kia Seltos is the newcomer to Kia’s lineup. It’s been in production since 2019, but 2021 marks the first year that it will be available on U.S. soil. It has just recently made it into dealerships as Kia begins to roll out its 2021 crop of vehicles, and it’s poised to make quite the disruption in the subcompact crossover market. Of course, let’s be clear, this still isn’t Kia’s smallest model – it’s the model designed to sit between the Soul and the Sportage. Highlights of the Seltos include better-than-expected cargo room, a Bose audio system, and the range-topping engine that’s good for 175 horsepower. What might be even more impressive, though, is the Seltos starting point of around $22,000.
2021 Kia Seltos - Driven
The subcompact crossover class has so much potential. Best-selling “compact” models like the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, and Chevrolet Equinox have gotten fantastically spacious, refined — and expensive. A modern CR-V or RAV4 is just as big, fancy, and costly as midsize models used to be. For lots of people, they’re still a great deal: for as little as $25,000, you get ample space for four or even five adults and their stuff, all the latest advanced safety features, a fully featured touchscreen infotainment system, and great gas mileage. But lots of people don’t need or even want something this big, or at least aren’t eager to pay for it. So most automakers now offer a subcompact model that’s smaller and less expensive than their compact.
What’s puzzling, though, is how flawed most of these subcompact crossovers have proven to be. Many of them are polarizing styling statements, sometimes with looks that compromise their utility even more than their scaled-down dimensions do. A surprising number of them offer no all-wheel-drive. Some suffer from execution flaws like underpowered yet inefficient engines, compromised interior layouts, or clumsy driving dynamics. Each model that gets a lot right has also had at least one serious flaw — whether it’s the fun-to-drive but cramped Hyundai Kona and Mazda CX-3 and CX-30; the spacious but slow, noisy Honda HR-V; the pleasant but overpriced Nissan Rogue Sport; the off-road-ready, on-road-jerky Jeep Renegade and Subaru Crosstrek; or a host of other would-be contenders. That’s to say nothing of the ones that, well, don’t get a lot right. Why, oh why, couldn’t someone just take everything that people love about a compact crossover and simply make it a little smaller and less expensive?
At long last, that call has been answered. The all-new 2021 Kia Seltos is a mechanical cousin to the Hyundai Kona, but it’s taller and longer. And that’s just what was needed to address the Kona’s lower, more car-like seating position and its tight rear seating. This makes the Seltos the first truly well-rounded subcompact crossover, delivering all-around competence with no disastrous downsides. It’s handsome, functional, fun to drive, fuel-efficient, and affordable. While no car is perfect — certain buyers will gravitate toward the specific advantages of some Seltos competitors — this is the only subcompact crossover that has something for just about everyone.
Kia Gets Deep and Serious with its Super Bowl LIV Campaign
Kia is always an active participant during the Super Bowl, and this year is no different. The Korean automaker has launched a 30-second teaser of its new commercial earmarked for Super Bowl LIV on February 2, 2020. Just like its previous Super Bowl commercials, Kia is taking a serious approach with this year’s ad, establishing a theme of “overcoming adversity to achieve the impossible dream.” The all-new Kia Stelvos is the star of the commercial, though the 30-second teaser made no mention of the new crossover. All shall be revealed, though, when the 60-second commercial airs sometime in the third quarter of the title game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers.
If you didn’t realize that there was a gap between the Kia Soul and the Kia Sportage, well, don’t feel bad because we didn’t either. But, it’s all good, because Kia has managed to fill that gap with a model known as the Seltos. It celebrated its U.S. launch at the 2019 Los Angels Auto Show after being introduced a couple of months before that in India. Naturally, there are some minor changes to make it meet U.S. regulations, but for the most part, we’re looking at a compact SUV with some Telluride-inspired design cues and enough ground clearance that you could actually take it off the beaten path if you really wanted to.
The real highlight of the Seltos is its cargo capacity. In relation to its size, the capacity is rather respectable at 26.6 cubic-feet with the rear seats in place and 62.8 cubic-feet with the rear seats folded down. It also comes with a decent list of technology, including a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system that looks like it came out of yesteryear’s BMW parts bin, and there’s even an 8-speaker Bose audio system. The latter is actually a first for a Kia, so it has that going for it.
The Seltos is available with your choice of two different engines. The base engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 146 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. The smaller, but turbocharged 1.6-liter mill delivers 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. It’s nothing to write home about, but it’s also a small model, so it should be adequate. Kia is promising an impressive starting point of “below $22,000,” so expect it to start out around $21,990 and climb closer to the $30,000 range in top trim.
Kia Has Chosen a Name for its Baby Crossover, And it’s Not What We Expected
Kia has unveiled the name of its latest crossover that is due to be launched later in June. Moniker’d the Stelos, err, Stilletos, no! Seltos, yeah, Seltos, the baby crossover from Kia has been in works for quite some time now. Although not as funny as the Sylphy, the Seltos was not what we were expecting. But lately, Kia has been giving weird names to its vehicles. Remember Telluride? Why name a vehicle after a ski resort in Colorado? Anyhow, Kia has unveiled sketches of the crossover, and it sure looks quite impressive.