2021 Kia Seltos SX Turbo AWD new car reviews

Kia refers to the new-for-2021 Seltos as “right-sized.” Does that mean that all of the SUVs are wrong-sized? Maybe. Jump ahead for our feedback.

As Kia explains, the Seltos slots between its Soul and Sportage. It labels it as entry-level with power coming from two available engines, the turbo 1.6 or the naturally aspirated 1.6. Our tester, wearing the appropriately named Starlight Yellow, had the turbo engine matched with a seven-speed DCT transmission and all-wheel drive.

Final price, including options and freight, didn’t quite touch $30,000.

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Other staff views

David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

Oh, joy, another little SUV. But, wait, this one looks pretty tough, especially with the black roof. It knocks just enough of an edge off the yellow paint.

Kia might call this entry-level, and the footprint might agree, but it looks good–contemporary without being nutty. How’s that for a delicate balance?

The interior looks good, too–typical Kia/Hyundai. Big gauges, just the right number of buttons. The seats felt perfect. Not flat. Comfortable on the highway. The steering wheel came from a Miata, right? The piano black accents, again, look classy for what is, in theory, an entry-level vehicle.

Let’s talk about the door panels for a second. No, trust me. They’re art. Yes, some harder plastic, but the detail work on the speaker grilles again creates something distinctive without being silly.

Back to size: For the two of us, spot-on. It easily carrying a full load of stuff–and that full load included a set of 16-inch tires, a set of unmounted 15-inch wheels and a few boxes of car parts. Everything sat below the driver’s line of sight. Lift-over isn’t bad at all.

The longer wheelbase, comfortable seats and ample power–175 horsepower along with nearly 200 lb.-ft. of torque–made the Seltos comfortable and capable on the road. It’s quiet, has enough passing power, and doesn’t have any weird quirks.

Does the world need more smaller SUVs? We’ll let the market dictate. And while our rather loaded tester nearly touched the $30k mark, the line starts at $21,999 for the non-turbo, front-drive model.

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