Thursday, February 25, 2021
Should-you-buy Should You Buy A 2021 Kia Seltos?

Should You Buy A 2021 Kia Seltos?

Doing exactly what a subcompact crossover should.


  • The 2021 Kia Seltos starts at $21,990 in the U.S. and at $23,095 in Canada before freight and delivery charges.

  • Great value, generously sized cockpit, good fuel economy.

  • Road and suspension noise could be lower, intrusive lane keep assist, not the most engaging to drive.


As if there weren’t enough utility vehicles in its product lineup, the 2021 Kia Seltos arrives on the market to help the Korean brand capture a greater share of the subcompact crossover segment.

Its size positions it between the Kia Soul and the Kia Sportage, the latter being a compact vehicle. In addition, the former isn’t offered with all-wheel drive, while the Seltos does.

Presenting a modern and sophisticated design, the 2021 Kia Seltos shares some of the brand’s styling cues, even though it doesn’t have the panache of the Kia Telluride and the Kia Sorento. The proportions are perfect, and we observe lots of little details in the vehicle’s front fascia, and elsewhere too, such as the chrome strips that glide along the beltline and taper off in the upper portion of the rear pillar. The available paint colours like Starbright Yellow, Lunar Orange and Neptune Blue bring some cheery contrast to the current sea of white, black and gray hues that dominate the automotive scenery.

A 2.0L four-cylinder engine is standard, which develops 146 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque, connected to a continuously variable automatic transmission, or what Kia calls IVT. A stout powertrain for the vehicle’s size and weight, and largely equivalent to what’s found in the Seltos’ competitors, which include the Honda HR-V, the Hyundai Kona, the Mazda CX-3 and CX-30, the Nissan Rogue Sport/Qashqai, the Chevrolet Trailblazer and the Subaru Crosstrek, among others.

In select trim levels, the 2021 Kia Seltos also offers a turbocharged 1.6L four with 175 hp and 195 pound-feet, managed by a dual-clutch, seven-speed automatic. Performance is obviously improved, amusing even, with only a slight increase in fuel consumption. We tested a Seltos SX equipped with the turbo mill, and we observed an average of 28 mpg or 8.5 L/100 km.

Pricing ranges from $21,990 to $29,135 before freight and delivery charges in the United States, and from $23,095 to $32,945 in Canada.


Why You Should Buy A 2021 Kia Seltos

  • The Seltos comes well equipped for the price. The mid-range S and S 1.6T in the U.S. include alloy wheels, most active safety features and an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen, while the EX in Canada rounds up AWD, a power sunroof, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, automatic climate control and several active safety features as well.
  • With a combined city/highway average of 29 mpg or 8.2 L/100 km, the Seltos with AWD is more efficient than most of its rivals, save for the CX-3 and the Crosstrek.
  • The 2021 Kia Seltos also boasts one of the most spacious cockpits in the subcompact crossover category, with good front and rear headroom, sufficient back-seat legroom and competitive shoulder and hip room.
  • Cargo space is also generous with 26.6 cubic feet or 752 litres with the rear seats in place, and 62.8 cubic feet or 1,778 litres when they’re folded down. The modular load floor also allows hauling slightly taller objects.
  • Interior fit and finish are quite good, as so are dashboard ergonomics. While many automakers have ditched physical buttons in favour of touchscreen menus, the Seltos is blessed with rows of buttons for audio and climate functions that are easily accessible while driving.


Why You Shouldn’t Buy A 2021 Kia Seltos

  • While the Seltos is perfectly suited to its mission of getting small families and empty-nesters around, those looking to trade in their Sportage for the Seltos won’t find the same sportiness.
  • The turbocharged engine is a nice upgrade, but it’s not an essential one. And since it’s only available in the costliest trim levels, it becomes even more irrelevant.
  • The interior design is clean and modern, but the origami patterns on the speaker grilles look like they were kicked in. A very minor complaint here.
  • Although the Seltos isn’t excessively noisy, road and suspension noise could be better isolated from the cabin.
  • As is the case with many Hyundai and Kia products, the lane departure warning and lane keep assist systems are very sensitive, to the point where they becoming aggravating and we end up shutting them off.


Final Word

The 2021 Kia Seltos is one of the best subcompact crossovers on the market right now. It’s attractive, affordable, offers a solid drive and is well-equipped for the asking price. It may not be perfect, but its combination of qualities and value make it a compelling choice.

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