High-riding Kia XCeed is the prettiest and most desirable member of the Ceed family

For those who want the Ceed hatchback, but wrapped in a higher-riding, crossover-like package and with a hint of extra sportiness to its design, then the Kia XCeed is what you’re looking for. Its underpinnings are pretty much identical to those of the regular Ceed, but for some buyers, the fact that you sit higher off the ground in combination with the more rakish design will make it an irresistible proposition.

Kia markets it as “a sporty alternative to traditional SUVs” and while it’s certainly sportier than typical, tall SUVs, it’s not actually a sporty car. I will grant Kia this, though - this is the best looking member of the current Ceed family, which to my eyes is even more handsome than the Proceed wagon, thanks to its unique fascias and that very well executed fastback-style hatch.

And if at first glance you’re thinking “this looks quite different to all other Ceed models,” you are actually right. The only body panels the XCeed shares with the rest of the Ceed lineup are the front door panels - everything else is bespoke and really quite distinctive. The automaker has also tried to spruce up the interior, although here it only changed a few bits of trim to match the car’s more lively exterior - the dashboard, controls, seats and, well, pretty much everything is identical to what you see in the Ceed hatch.

2020 Kia Ceed Crossover Exterior

  • Has unique body panels
  • Only front doors are shared with other Ceeds
  • Sits higher
  • Larger overhangs
  • Stunning Design
  • Best looking out of the Ceed family
  • Blatant fake exhausts are really nasty
2020 Kia XCeed Crossover
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Kia really went all out with the design of the XCeed, making it completely different compared to all other Ceed-branded models it sells right now. It’s interesting to point out how it has managed to turn the crossover of the Ceed range into the sportiest looking model. But that’s exactly what has been achieved here - it’s even sportier looking than the Proceed which, in turn, should have been the biggest Ceed-badged head-turner.

The XCeed has a completely different face to that of other Ceeds.

Its headlights are considerably more aggressive and feature a striking cutout towards the grille. The grille is also different and Kia actually went quite crazy with it, ditching the current family face grille shape. The grille opening is larger than on the Ceed and Kia designers have tried to mimic its shape through the use of two plastic elements finished in satin silver.

If you look at the XCeed from the front straight on, you really wouldn’t know it’s a crossover. The bumper has a big open area in the lower part and even if that’s surrounded by bare plastic and has a faux skid plate element below it, the look to me is still closer to that of a hot hatch, not a high-riding vehicle.

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When viewing the XCeed from the side, you’ll also notice that its hood isn’t angled down as much as that of the regular Ceed. This, in turn, makes the nose appear more upright and it grants the car yet more of an aggressive look. The shape of the greenhouse appears to be mostly the same, although the C-pillar is different and more steeply raked than what the Ceed has.

It’s this fastback-style roof that grants the XCeed its unique look, not too dissimilar to that of the Alfa Romeo Brera coupe that still turns heads today.

Kia says that the only panels the XCeed shares with other Ceed models are those for the front doors, and while that may be so, the lower part of both doors is covered in plastic cladding and you would be fooled into thinking they are completely different.

2020 Kia XCeed Crossover
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The side window line is also different. The XCeed’s window line runs parallel to the car’s belt line almost all the way, but it kinks upward slightly towards the rear of the vehicle. Compare this to the regular Ceed’s window line, which runs exactly parallel to the belt line all the way to the rear and you might be tempted to call the latter a bit boring to look at by comparison. Kia has genuinely successfully managed to inject the XCeed with more design flair than the regular Ceed and it combined this with the slightly higher ground clearance (that is so sought after these days) in order to ensure the vehicle will appeal to as many people as possible given the current market context.

Even the plastic cladding that runs all along the rear part of the car adds something to the XCeed, even if it’s not really needed because you won’t really want to take it too far off the beaten path. It may sit slightly higher than the regular Ceed, yet an all-conquering SUV it most certainly is not. It’s a style statement, and a great one at that, and we haven’t even arrived at the rear end, probably the most visually pleasing part of the car.

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If you’re like me and you used to love the look of the Alfa Romeo Brera, then I’m sure you’ll really like what Kia has done with the XCeed’s rump. It’s perhaps a bit less bulbous and curvaceous than the Alfa’s, yet it undeniably looks good. It comes with bespoke rear lights that look better than those of any other Ceed (yes, this is turning into a pattern now...) and they also accentuate the width of the car, make it look quite planted and stable when viewed from behind.

When looking at the car dead on from the rear, you’ll also notice the light clusters protrude outward and they almost look like some sort of aerodynamic elements - it’s as if Kia designers deliberately made other Ceeds boring in order to make the XCeed stand out (from pretty much all angles).

The rear bumper (which, of course, is very different to that of other Ceeds) has a big swathe of non-painted plastic on the lower pert and a faux skid plate (this time considerably bigger and more visible than the one on the front) which has two openings that you’d think are exhausts.

2020 Kia XCeed Crossover
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However, neither of the two openings is actually an exhaust. Yes, that’s right, not even one of them. The actual exhaust is small, angled downward and hidden behind the lower lip of the bumper. The XCeed has to be one of the worst fake exhaust offenders I’ve seen recently, and it really didn’t need anything extra going on in that part of the bumper because the design was already very good.

Besides, how expensive would it have been on Kia’s side to route the exhausts out through those openings? Sure, it’s only meant to look like a performance vehicle, so that’s why they’re there, but it just feels wrong to put them there. Just because Mercedes and Audi are doing it shouldn’t make it okay for other manufacturers to do the same.

Shameful faux exhausts aside, the XCeed is really a sight to behold, a true triumph of design in a class filled with eye catching and talented vehicles.

Kia has done a truly good job making it not only different to the rest of the range, but also really quite pretty to behold. My favorite angle has to be the rear three-quarter, but it looks almost as good from the side and front too. Maybe I like its rear because it reminds me of the Brera, but I don’t see how that can be marked as a negative - the Brera has killer curves and I’m pretty sure the XCeed’s designers had a photo of the Italian on one of their inspiration boards.

2020 Kia XCeed Crossover
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Kia says the XCeed is 85 millimeters longer than the Ceed hatch, courtesy of larger overhangs (25 millimeters larger in the front and 60 millimeters larger in the rear). Ground clearance is also up over the Ceed hatch, increased from 132 millimeters to 174 millimeters (or 184 millimeters on vehicles riding on 18-inch wheels).

Buyers will be able to choose between 12 different paint finishes for the XCeed, although I’m pretty sure the Quantum Yellow color Kia chose to show the car off in will be among the most popular. It’s not available on any other Ceed model, while most of the other colors in the XCeed palette are shared with the rest of the Ceed range.

2020 Kia Ceed Crossover Interior

  • Interior is identical to other Ceeds
  • Digital Guage Cluster (first time ever)
  • Passenger hip point is 43 millimeters higher
  • Cargo room increased 31 liters over Ceed hatchback
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It is inside where the XCeed betrays the fact that it’s really just another Ceed variant wrapped in sexier sheet-metal. The dashboard is identical to that of the regular Ceed, although Kia has elected to spruce it up by using air vent surrounds finished in striking colors - in other models, these bits of trim are always silver or grey. The color (which in the case of the vehicle shown in the first official set of photos is yellow) is also used on the contrasting stitching on the door panels, as well as on some of the seat details.

The only real difference between the XCeed and other Ceeds is the fact that it is the first to come with Kia’s new 12.3-inch “Supervision” digital instrument cluster.

It definitely helps make the car feel more modern and of-the-times and with a resolution of 1920 x 720 pixels, it’s actually very sharp and it looks as good as equivalent solutions offered by premium car manufacturers (the ones that usually set the benchmark for in-car graphics).

The Kia XCeed is the Sport Crossover We Didn't Realize We Needed
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As with other similar systems, it is configurable and offers several different gauge faces, as well as information displayed between the digital gauges. Kia says it can show “turn-by-turn navigation instructions, audio information, phone calls and contacts, and in-depth trip information, as well as vehicle diagnostics alerts, and pop-up notifications linked to the car’s various active safety and driver assist technologies.”

The XCeed comes with an 8-inch central display as standard, but in order to really make its interior stand out, you will have to pay extra for the bigger and sharper 10.25-inch screen.

Regardless of which you go for, though, the XCeed features standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, as well as what Kia calls “infotainment functionalities.”

Opt for the bigger display, though, and you gain the UVO Connect telematics system which “uses its own eSIM card to retrieve and update live data during a drive. This includes live traffic information, weather forecasts, points of interest, and details of potential on- and off-street parking.” UVO Connect allows the driver to plan routes before actually reaching the car and transferring them from their smartphone via the system into the car’s sat-nav.

The XCeed is a practical proposition, with a 426-liter trunk that is 31 liters larger than that of the regular Ceed hatch, but still considerably smaller than the Ceed Sportwagon’s 600 liters or the Proceed’s 625 liters. For longer items, the XCeed’s rear bench can be folded 40:20:40 to free up additional space - this extends the trunk capacity to 1,378 liters.

Compared to rivals, the XCeed has one of the larger trunks in its class. It’s bigger than the Ford Focus Active’s 375-liter trunk, but a bit smaller than the VW T-Roc’s 445-liter rating. With their rear benches folded, their cargo volume increases to 1,354 liters and 1,532 liters, so the hierarchy doesn’t change.

Occupants aboard the XCeed will feel the car’s extra height. Kia says the hip point for passengers has been raised by 42 millimeters and this will make them feel like they’re in an SUV, but without the high center of gravity associated with such vehicles.

In other words, Kia says this provides a great view out and the car shouldn’t lean as much in corners, thus providing a more comfortable experience for those on board.

Overall, being aboard the XCeed is pretty much the same experience as being in the new Ceed. That means you won’t be blown away by the dash layout or any of the materials (if doesn’t feel as modern as some rivals), but you will be able to opt for the cool digital gauge cluster, as well as bits of colored plastic trim (that in the Ceed are plain grey) and you sit a bit higher than in the Ceed.

2020 Kia Ceed Crossover Drivetrain

  • Shares all engines with the rest of the Ceed lineup
  • FWD only
  • Softer suspension
  • Not that fun to drive
  • Surefooted and safe
  • Better at cruising than regular Ceed
2020 Kia XCeed Crossover
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Kia says that even though the XCeed is based on the exact same platform as the normal Ceed, it “will offer drivers a unique ride and handling character, with its own suspension tuning and componentry not found in other Ceed models.” All XCeed models feature hydraulic rebound stoppers featuring a rubber bump-stop that floats in hydraulic fluid within the shock absorbers. This solution is said to improve ride quality and control when the car is driven over rough and uneven surfaces; it apparently also lessens noise coming from the suspension.

Like all the rest of the models in the Ceed lineup, though, the XCeed comes with a fully-independent suspension setup.

This solution was actually more common among hatchbacks of this size a decade ago, but nowadays many manufacturers have either ditched the solution altogether or only offer it for larger engine variants.

The XCeed’s suspension setup is a fraction softer than that of the Ceed. Kia says it has softened front spring rates by seven percent, while the rear springs have been softened by four percent. The manufacturer says this bestows the XCeed with superior comfort levels and enhanced cruising ability.

2020 Kia XCeed Crossover
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Out on the road, the XCeed feels stable and surefooted, but taking sequences of corners quickly in it won’t set your heart racing. It’s composed and thanks to accurate steering, you will always feel like you’re in control, yet driving isn’t really that rewarding or appealing - I guess that’s why Kia emphasizes its cruising ability more so than cornering capability; it’s definitely much better at cruising than corner carving.

Looking under the XCeed’s hood holds no surprises as all engines are shared with the rest of the Ceed range.

The range of available power plants kicks off with the three-cylinder 1.0-liter T-GDi mill that puts out 120 PS (118 horsepower) and 172 Nm (126 pound-feet). It can only be paired to a six-speed manual gearbox, and while it doesn’t make the car feel especially rapid, it has plenty of pulling power for an engine its size and it doesn’t make the car feel under-engined - it also makes quite a pleasant thrum when revved out that makes it sound meaner than it actually is.

Next up is the 1.4-liter T-GDi engine with 140 PS (138 horsepower) and 242 Nm (178 pound-feet) of torque that can be had with either the standard six-speed stick shift or an optional seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The top of the range power plant available for the XCeed is borrowed from the Ceed GT - the 1.6-liter T-GDi engine with 204 PS (201 horsepower) and 265 Nm (195 pound-feet). The official XCeed press blurb suggests that it’s this most powerful engine that best suits the car’s character.

2020 Kia XCeed Crossover
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Diesel fans will only get one engine choice, the 1.6-liter Smartstream four-cylinder diesel that Kia is proud to declare the cleanest oil burner it’s ever made, available in two states of tune, 115 PS (114 horsepower) and 136 PS (134 horsepower). Both have the same 280 Nm (206 pound-feet) of torque in manual cars and 300 Nm (221 pound-feet) in cars equipped with the dual-clutch automatic.

In early 2020, Kia has announced that it will also start offering electrified versions of the XCeed. We don’t know exactly which, but some engines will be offered with a 48-volt mild hybrid system sold alongside an actual plug-in hybrid variant of the vehicle. No all-wheel drive option is (or will be made) available for any current or future powertrain, though.

2020 Kia Ceed Crossover Prices

2020 Kia XCeed Crossover
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Pricing in Europe for the XCeed starts from €21,390, but as of right now we don’t have any additional information. The car is only available to pre-order right now and full pricing will be revealed at a later date (when we’ll also update this section).

Competition

Subaru XV/Crosstrek

2018 Subaru XV Crosstrek High Resolution Exterior
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Subaru has an all-new XV/Crosstrek to do battle in the compact crossover segment, a niche that’s hotly contested right now by all the major brands. Subaru’s entrant looks very good in its latest generation (much better than the car it replaces) and it features an improved interior over its predecessor as well as much more extra tech.

Being a Subaru, it is only available with permanent, symmetrical all-wheel drive which means the XV/Crosstrek has no problem in lower grip conditions or off the beaten path. The all-wheel drive is one of this model’s party tricks, but at the same time it doesn’t handle as well on the road as some rivals and it’s not especially fast to get going either - oh, and the only automatic option is a continuously variable transmission which is good as far as CVTs go, but some people may not like the way it feels and it could be a deal breaker.

Read our full review on the 2018 Subaru XV/Crosstrek

Ford Focus Active

The Ford Focus Active is Suffering From an Identity Crisis
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Ford went down a different path when it created a high-riding version of its current Focus hatch. It didn’t bother with giving it a different body, like Kia did with the XCeed, relying solely on a more traditional crossover makeover when it created the Focus Active. It is essentially nothing more than a raised version of the Focus that has unique bumpers and surround plastic body cladding, as well as special badging to differentiate it from other versions.

Not that you’d mistake the Active with the sporty, lower-riding and hot hatch-like ST Line model. The Focus Active is better to drive than the Kia XCeed and its interior feels more upmarket and modern, but from the outside it’s nowhere near as distinctive to look at. It’s more of an understated choice compared to the Kia, one you buy when you really want a Focus but you live down a farm track that you have to drive on every day. The Focus Active doesn’t come with all-wheel drive, either, but you can have it as an even more practical wagon (estate) model with oodles of extra load volume.

Read our full review on the 2019 Ford Focus Active

Renault Kadjar

2015 Renault Kadjar High Resolution Exterior
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While it may simply be a sister model to the hugely popular Qashqai from Nissan, the Renault Kadjar adds more style and chic into the mix. It looks much better in person compared to the Nissan and its interior also gets a touch of extra class over the Qashqai.

It has a wide range of gasoline and diesel engines, as well as manual and dual-clutch automatic transmission options. It also drives surprisingly well, rewarding the driver with its good steering and decent body control. All-wheel-drive models feel especially surefooted, even when hustling on a twisty road.

Read our full review on the Renault Kadjar

Peugeot 3008

2017 Peugeot 3008 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Few (if any) crossovers in this class can match the daring Peugeot 3008 for sheer style. It looks really good both inside and out and it has a whiff of the future about it. Nothing else on the road looks like it, and while it’s not as capable as it is rakish, it’s really about as good as you’d expect a vehicle in this class to be.

It has unexpectedly sharp steering and quite a tight, planted feel on the move. You do sit quite high in the 3008, but it doesn’t really feel that top heavy, and there’s also plenty of room inside for up to five people and their bags.

But frankly, the 3008 just looks so different (and also not bad at the same time) that it’s really worth buying based on style alone. The fact that it’s also a decent, practical car is a bonus on top of that.

Read our full review on the 2018 Peugeot 3008

Conclusion

2020 Kia XCeed Crossover
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What Kia has done here is make the high-riding crossover version of the Ceed hatchback the prettiest and most desirable member of the current Ceed family. It has distinctive (and, dare we say it, rather pretty) styling that really sets it apart from other Ceeds, even the fancy-looking Proceed and a more colorful version of the Ceed’s interior.

Plus, it’s also more comfortable to be in and passengers will sit higher and therefore get a better view out. The raised ride height means it’s also slightly better at going off-road, but without all-wheel drive, you wouldn’t want to take it that far off the beaten path. Besides, it isn’t that much taller than the Ceed, so don’t mistake it for a more proper off-roader (like the Kia Sportage, for instance).

Buyers will probably opt for the XCeed primarily thanks to the way it looks and less because of the fact that it sits a bit higher than regular hatches off the ground. Its engines are varied and strong enough for what the car is, and the prospect of a plug-in hybrid joining the range will further broaden the vehicle’s appeal. This PHEV version will also feature some styling tweaks to make it stand out and eco-conscious buyers who want others to know they made the green choice will love it even more because of this.

  • Leave it
    • Yet another model created to fill a gap in a range
    • Nothing revolutionary or particularly special about it
    • No all-wheel drive limits its off-road credentials

Further reading

2019 Kia Ceed GT Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 Kia Ceed GT.

2019 Kia ProCeed Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 Kia ProCeed.

2017 Kia Proceed Concept High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Read our full review on the 2017 Kia Proceed Concept.

2018 Kia Ceed Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Kia Ceed.

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