Saturday, June 15, 2024
First Reviews2024 Kia Seltos First Drive Review: Improving What Was Already Good

2024 Kia Seltos First Drive Review: Improving What Was Already Good

We take the refreshed 2024 Kia Seltos for a test drive around Prince Edward County, Ontario.

 

2024 Kia Seltos Positive First Impressions

 

  • Great balance of comfort and sportiness
  • Exceptional value proposition
  • Peppy turbo engine
  • A ton of safety and connectivity features
  • Above-average cargo space and overall versatility

 

2024 Kia Seltos Poor First Impressions

 

  • Poor fuel economy
  • No wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
  • Base 2.0-litre engine is underpowered

 

Since arriving on the market in 2020, the Kia Seltos has been a hit not only for Kia, but with consumers as well. In the crowded entry-level SUV segment, the Seltos sits at the top of the sales charts, convincing more buyers than any other small sport utility vehicle. That is quite a feat considering just how much competition there is in this segment.

 

The 2024 Kia Seltos therefore has big shoes to fill – it has to appear fresh and evolve to match the torrent of redesigned competitors which have arrived in recent years, but it also has to make sure it doesn’t upset buyers who have already given the Seltos their approval.

 

2024 Kia Seltos | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur

 

That may explain why the 2024 Seltos feels, and even looks, like previous models, and why the improvements focus on key performance indicators in this segment including technology, value, and modern design touches inside and out. Ultimately, Kia has improved elements that the Seltos already did very well, but it is slightly disappointing to see that Kia hasn’t improved areas that were soft spots for this entry-level SUV in the last few years. This shouldn’t stop the Seltos from remaining the top seller in the segment, however.

 

What’s New on the 2024 Kia Seltos?

 

Before diving into how the 2024 Kia Seltos drives, let’s look at the improvements that were made. They center around interior and exterior design, technology, and a more powerful top-of-the-line engine. Kia also introduces a new X-Line trim for the first time on the Seltos.

 

Starting with exterior design, we notice new headlights and a new radiator grille upfront, along with redesigned wheel options, fog lights, and a front bumper. Ultimately, the most distinctive element is the new LED front lighting which creates a distinct visual signature for the 2024 model. However, the overall exterior changes are subtle, which is fine because the Seltos has aged well since its launch in 2020. In the back, we notice slimmer and longer rear LEDs as well as a redesigned rear bumper. Again, Kia didn’t revolutionize the design of the Seltos, but rather slightly updated it with modern elements like LEDs. Inside, the changes are more noticeable.

 

The instrument cluster and multimedia screen are now combined together, forming one complete and modern ensemble. Base models get a 4.2-inch digital cluster with an 8-inch audio display while upper trims get dual 10.25-inch displays combined together. What’s nice here is that even entry-level models share the same overall design and although the screens are smaller, you don’t feel like you’re being punished for going with a more affordable version. A quick glance makes both options look identical.

 

2024 Kia Seltos | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur

 

Improved Turbo Engine and New Gearbox

 

Under the hood, the entry-level two-litre four-cylinder powertrain transfers over to the 2024 Seltos unchanged. Delivering 147 hp and 132 pound-feet of torque, this powertrain is offered in most Seltos versions. The available 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, however, gets an 11% increase in horsepower, now delivering 195 horsepower, a 20 hp increase over last year’s model. Torque continues to be rated at 195 pound-feet and it is delivered at just 1,600 RPM. This engine was already one of the most powerful you could get in the segment, and although the improvements in horsepower don’t allow it to compete with the turbocharged powertrain in the Mazda CX-30, this 1.6-litre turbo is comfortably seated as the second most powerful engine in this class.

 

Another significant powertrain change is that the dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which was previously offered with the turbo engine, has now been replaced by an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The driving enthusiast in me was slightly disappointed at the news, as dual-clutch gearboxes are quite a bit more engaging than your run-of-the-mill eight-speed automatic. This particular DCT transmission was very well calibrated to the turbo engine. However, DCT gearboxes are more expensive to maintain, and their reliability has been hit or miss. The eight-speed gearbox will be smoother and more dependable. Because most Seltos owners probably won’t notice the difference, we understand the choice made by Kia.

 

2024 Kia Seltos | Photo : Kia

 

The turbo is available in the top-of-the-line SX and the brand-new SX and SX X-Line trim. The X-Line model is a first for the Seltos and mimics what we have already seen in larger Kia SUVs like the new Sportage and Telluride. The elements are mostly aesthetic, with the gunmetal radiator grill, front skid plate, rear skid plate design elements, as well as side body moulding in glossy black and 18-inch wheels painted in the same colour. You also get black roof rails and an emblem.

 

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Kia engineers also focused on improving comfort by retuning the suspension and reducing interior noise with the use of sound-absorbing foam and a new acoustic film on the windshield.

 

Already one of the leaders when it comes to providing value in the small SUV segment, the Kia Seltos adds even more features in 2024. Specifically, there are more standard safety features including blind spot collision avoidance assist, lane keep assist, lane follow assist, and front collision avoidance assist. The available tech features have also been enhanced. The 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster can be customized to four different modes like we see in upscale luxury vehicles, and there is also a new available digital key feature that allows you to start your Seltos using your mobile phone. The phone can also serve as your key fob, unlocking the Seltos as you get close. You won’t find this feature anywhere else in the segment.

 

2024 Kia Seltos | Photo: Kia
2024 Kia Seltos | Photo: Kia

 

The 2024 Kia Seltos’ pricing and value proposition continue to lead the way

 

The refreshed Seltos gives you more standard safety, advanced tech seldom seen on an affordable entry-level SUV, and a more powerful optional engine. Pricing starts at $25,195 for the base Seltos or $27,195 for the same model with all-wheel drive. The best-equipped version with the entry-level two-litre four-cylinder is the EX premium all-wheel drive which starts at $33,495.

 

This version not only gives you a heated steering wheel, leather seats, a sunroof, and remote car starter which you find in the version just under the premium trim, you also get a power liftgate, wireless cell phone charger, air-cooled front seats, heated rear seats, ambient mood lighting, and the larger centre display and instrument cluster. It’s worth noting that this version starts at under what you’d pay for a base Honda HR-V or a mid-level Toyota Corolla Cross. Kia has always stood out for the value it provides in its models and the Seltos is perhaps the best example of this.

 

2024 Kia Seltos | Photo : Kia

 

The 2024 Kia SX Turbo and X-Line Turbo models start at $35,795 and $38,395 respectively. You get the 1.6-litre turbo we talked about before, 18-inch wheels, a Bose premium sound system, heads-up display, and the digital key.

 

Great balance of comfort, sportiness, and versatility

 

The most discerning characteristic of the Kia Seltos has always been its balance. You want to find an agile small SUV that’s actually quite engaging on a winding road? The Seltos was a great option. Looking for comfort and a relaxing drive to work? The Seltos worked well there too. And with over 700 litres of cargo space in the back with all seats in place and above-average rear seat room, the Seltos was always one of the best options when it came to versatility. All of this is not only preserved in the Seltos for 2024, but both performance and comfort have been improved, especially in the SX trims.

 

2024 Kia Seltos | Photo : Kia

 

You do feel the extra horsepower in the 1.6-litre turbo, and although it can be a bit noisy under hard accelerations, it still reacts quickly and enhances confidence on the road. As for the comfort, the Seltos remains one of the best options in its class when it comes to refinement. Even with the larger 18-inch wheels, the Seltos remains smooth on broken roads and the suspension does an exceptional job at isolating the driver and passenger from bumps and potholes while remaining tight enough to provide engaging handling. The improvements made to the cabin are also noticeable with the Seltos providing a surprisingly quiet environment.

 

The thing about Kia vehicles is that they are easy to drive and easy to live with. You get in, you go, and everything feels the way it should. The steering is perfectly weighted, the engine reacts the way you want it to, with no hesitation in the case of the 1.6-litre turbo, and the seats provide great support.

 

The technology inside is also easy to use, adding to the overall experience. The infotainment system organizes everything well, and finding the function you want is not a problem. However, not everything is perfect.

 

2024 Kia Seltos | Photo : Kia

 

Not all good

 

For starters, as with every Kia vehicle, the driver assistance features are overly sensitive. They beep and warn you when there really isn’t any need to. It’s becoming so prevalent in the automaker’s vehicles that most journalists at the event deactivated the safety features the second they got in. I was one of them. I did turn them back on at one point just to see if Kia had made improvements in this area, but it quickly became apparent that they had not. Ultimately, how frustrating this is to you will depend on how you drive, and maybe you won’t mind the beeps and flashes, instead appreciating the wealth of active safety features the 2024 Seltos offers.

 

One element that most buyers will likely find frustrating years into their 2024 Seltos ownership experience is the lack of wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Moreover, despite new USB-C ports found upfront and in the back, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can only be activated through a USB-A port.

 

This is again something that we find across the Kia brand, and when asked about it, the automaker simply said that the decision was made because most consumers still prefer to plug in their phone. That may be, but Kia also told us that the Seltos was aimed at tech-savvy buyers who wanted the latest features, which is why you get a digital key, for example. I would wager that a buyer interested in something like a digital key will likely also want wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Kia then told us this feature may become available down the road.

 

2024 Kia Seltos | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

 

Fuel economy could be better, and base performance is behind in the segment

 

The other element I feel Kia could have improved with the 2024 Seltos is the base engine. Although 147 hp was fine in 2020, the entry-level engine in the compact SUV is now one of the least powerful in its class, delivering significantly lower horsepower and torque than new models like the Honda HR-V and Volkswagen Taos. The Toyota Corolla Cross and Mazda CX-30 also deliver better performance out of the gate.

 

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This wouldn’t be so bad if the Seltos compensated with improved efficiency, but unfortunately, the 2.0-litre engine has always been rather thirsty when it comes to fuel consumption, and things aren’t better in the improved 1.6-litre turbo. We averaged 11.7 litres per 100 km on our drive, a number that could discourage many potential buyers.

 

More Pros than Cons

 

Still, the 2024 Kia Seltos has a lot more pros than cons. The value proposition and the features you get across the model lineup are impressive and are by far the most distinguishing element of the Kia SUV. The performance of the 1.6-litre turbo, combined with the handling of every Seltos model and the enhanced comfort, will convince many potential buyers on their test drive. And, the versatility and interior space continue to stand out. The 2024 Kia Seltos will please current Seltos owners and small SUV buyers looking for a model that does everything well and costs less without compromising on features.

 

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Charles Jolicoeur
Charles Jolicoeur
Charles Jolicoeur was studying to be a CPA when he decided to drop everything and launch a car website in 2012. Don't ask. The journey has been an interesting one, but today he has co-founded and manages 8 websites including EcoloAuto.com and MotorIllustrated.com as General Manager of NetMedia360. He also sits on the board of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada. Send me an email

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