2021 Kia Seltos Pros and Cons Review: Honey, I Shrunk the Telluride

News

Pros

  • Real SUV styling
  • Well-tuned CVT
  • Surprisingly spacious interior

Cons

  • Some cheap interior materials
  • Four-star NHTSA safety rating

Start with the styling, where the 2021 Seltos gets right what so many affordable SUVs miss—it looks like an SUV and not a tall hatchback. Even if you don’t like the pops of character provided by eye-catching details inside and out, the Seltos resembles a larger SUV than it actually is.

That impression continues inside, where the Seltos delighted us with its spacious, reclinable rear seats. The outstanding package is marred only slightly by the occasional cheap materials the driver and passengers will find across the trim lineup. But that’s expected on an SUV with a price tag ranging from about $23,000 to $30,000. What you don’t expect, however, is a refined driving experience.

“Within the first 100 feet you can feel the quality of engineering in this car,” features editor Scott Evans said about our 2.0-liter base-engine FWD tester (pictured in white). “It turns in sharply and handles body motions well. It rides very well over choppy, bumpy roads, better than even some of the luxury vehicles here. This is just a very pleasant car to drive.”

Multiple editors complimented the tuning of the CVT—a notable accomplishment considering how much we disliked Kia’s earlier CVT efforts. Higher trims get more power from a 1.6-liter turbo-four mated with a dual-clutch transmission. We’ve seen this combination in many Hyundais and Kias over the years, with some harsh shifting results. The Seltos shows Kia has taken those lessons to heart, providing smoother shifts without losing the immediacy of the DCT’s quick-shifting purpose.

If it were our money, however, most of us would stick with the 2.0-liter/CVT pairing. The car is more responsive than you’d expect, yet it still earns 29/34 mpg city/highway in EPA tests for FWD models or 27/31 mpg with AWD. Although subcompact SUVs in general deliver disappointing fuel economy that merely matches the mpg of larger compacts, the Seltos’ efficiency competes near the top of its segment.

Kia still delivers value on the top-trim SX Turbo, which includes the quicker 175-hp 1.6-liter turbo-four, spritely handling for this type of vehicle, and a 10.3-inch touchscreen with Kia’s intuitive infotainment setup—the kind of feature you wouldn’t expect on a $30,000 subcompact SUV. The ride is a bit firm (but not harsh), and a couple judges commented on the 1.6-liter’s turbo lag. The upgraded faux-leather seats felt a bit rubbery, too.

Aside from an NHTSA four-star overall safety rating (out of five stars) and an interior with so-so materials, the 2021 Seltos is very likable—especially with the base engine. Unlike its sibling Soul, the Seltos offers AWD across its lineup, as well as hill descent control and a differential lock. And its smart cruise and lane centering tech are better than what some luxury vehicles costing twice as much offer.

MotorTrend en Español managing editor Miguel Cortina captured how we feel: “The Seltos is compelling every way you look at it. Kia cracked the code on small crossovers.”

Added Evans: “Now the question you should be asking is not whether the Seltos or the Soul is better, but whether you want a city car or an off-road car? A beach cruiser or a mountain bike? It’s not about better. It’s about preference.”

2021 Kia Seltos S; Kia Seltos SX Turbo T-GDI
DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD; AWD
ENGINE TYPE I-4, alum block/head; Turbocharged I-4, alum block/head
VALVETRAIN DOHC, 4 valves/cyl
DISPLACEMENT 122.0 cu in/1,999 cc; 97.1 cu in/1,591 cc
COMPRESSION RATIO 12.5:1; 10.0:1
POWER (SAE NET) 146 hp @ 6,200 rpm; 175 hp @ 6,000 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET) 132 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm; 195 lb-ft @ 1,500 rpm
REDLINE 6,500 rpm
WEIGHT TO POWER 20.0; 18.5 lb/hp
TRANSMISSION Cont variable auto; 7-speed twin-clutch auto
AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE/LOW RATIO 6.05:1/2.33:1; 4.63:1 (1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th), 3.61:1(3rd, 6th, 7th, R)/2.58:1
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; torsion beam, coil springs; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar
STEERING RATIO 12.8:1
TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 2.5
BRAKES, F; R 15.0-, 16.0-in vented disc; 14.0-, 15.0-in disc, ABS
WHEELS 7.5 x 17-in; 7.5 x 18-in cast aluminum
TIRES 215/55R17 94V (M+S) Kumho Solis TA31+; 235/45R18 94V Kumo Majesty 9 Solus TA91
DIMENSIONS
WHEELBASE 103.5 in
TRACK, F/R 62.0/62.4 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 172.0 x 70.9 x 63.6 in
GROUND CLEARANCE 7.3 in
APPRCH/DEPART ANGLE 28.0/28.0 deg
TURNING CIRCLE 34.8 ft
CURB WEIGHT 2,927; 3,243 lb
WEIGHT DIST, F/R 60/40; 59/41%
TOWING CAPACITY Not rated
SEATING CAPACITY 5
HEADROOM, F/M/R 40.0/38.4 in
LEGROOM, F/M/R 41.4/38.0 in
SHOULDER ROOM, F/M/R 55.5/54.7 in
CARGO VOLUME BEH F/M/R 62.8/26.6 cu ft
TEST DATA
ACCELERATION TO MPH
0-30 3.2; 2.7 sec
0-40 4.5; 3.9
0-50 6.2; 5.6
0-60 8.3; 7.4
0-70 11.0; 9.9
0-80 14.3; 13.1
0-90 18.6; 17.2
0-100  —
PASSING, 45-65 MPH 4.2; 3.9
QUARTER MILE 16.5 sec @ 85.5 mph; 15.9 sec @ 86.9 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 122; 117 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.77; 0.82 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.8 sec @ 0.56 g (avg); 27.4 sec @ 0.63 g (avg)
TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 1,800; 2,000 rpm
CONSUMER INFO
BASE PRICE $23,110; $29,010
PRICE AS TESTED $23,585; $29,485
STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL Yes/Yes
AIRBAGS 6: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain
BASIC WARRANTY 5 yrs/60,000 miles
POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 10 yrs/100,000 miles
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 5 yrs/60,000 miles
FUEL CAPACITY 13.2 gal
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 29/34/31; 25/30/27 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 116/99; 135/112 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.62; 0.72 lb/mile
RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded regular

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

Ford tackles warranty costs in bid to boost profit
Renault will end carmaking at French plant despite union protests
Quick Charge Podcast: November 21, 2020
McLaren names planned PHEV Artura
New Cars Are Better Than Ever, Which Is Making Our Car of the Year Testing Harder

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *