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Kia News & Reviews

New 2021 Kia Seltos SX Review

The 2021 Kia Seltos SX is a little subcompact crossover SUV that thinks big. How big? Big enough to tackle even a little bit of off-roading if you are feeling adventurous. It is loaded for bear and then some. Napleton News had a chance to check it out. Here are a few highlights:

  • Most trim levels include All-wheel drive (AWD)
  • Class-leading cargo room
  • An adult-friendly backseat
  • Most models include an active safety feature suite
  • Seltos is all-new for 2021
  • Sits between Kia Soul and Sportage in the Kia lineup
  • Excellent 10-year/100,000-mile warranty

What is the 2021 Kia Seltos?

The Turbocharged 2021 Kia Seltos SX AWD.

The Kia Seltos is a new-for-2021 Subcompact SUV that seats five in a jam, four comfortably and a bunch of cargo if it’s just the two of you. It shares much of its platform with the Hyundai Kona. City friendly, the Seltos is sized just right for urban dwellers, dinks (double-income no kids), empty nesters and those in search of a reliable new car.

What’s a Seltos? We’ve received that question quite a bit, especially after a week behind the wheel of our gold example. In the case of this Kia, it is inspired by Greek mythology and the legend of Celtos, the son of Hercules. While representing the brave and assertive spirit of Celtos, Kia has adapted the letter S in the vehicle’s name for speed and sportiness.

What moves the Kia Seltos?

The Kia 1.6-liter turbo inline-4 engine.

A choice of two engines powers the Kia Seltos. These include the 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated inline-4 cylinder engine that delivers 146 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque. It is mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that mimics shift points as though it were a traditional gearbox.

The second offering is a 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4 cylinder engine making 175 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. It matches up to a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. Both engines achieve optimal power using 87 octane fuel.

The Kia AWD badging.

The Kia Seltos comes in five trim levels: Seltos LX, S, EX, S Turbo, and SX Turbo. The 2.0-liter engine is standard with the LX, S and EX models. The S Turbo and SX Turbo obviously take the turbocharged 1.6-liter engine. Interestingly, the Seltos S is the only model that is exclusively FWD. It is also the only model that ships with a torsion beam suspension instead of the more compliant independent rear suspension.

How does the Seltos look?

The Kia Seltos SX AWD in Starbright Yellow and Black Cherry.

A typical two-box design, the Kia Seltos imitates (the sincerest form of flattery) a certain Scandinavian CUV. Tallish, clean looking, even upright, it features good use of shape and space to optimize the interior’s carrying capacity. It’s slightly longer than the Hyundai Kona but not so big that it makes parking or ownership difficult.

The Seltos features a new geometric take on the trademark Kia “Tiger Nose” with angular facets that serve both an aero and cooling function. LED lighting makes for a bright front view, as does the silver under-bumper skid plate. A three-level hood gently flows over the sides, with a character line that leads rearward. It leads to the rear shoulders while an upward trending chrome strip adds a certain bling with a bit of flourish on the D-pillar. Our Starbright Yellow/Black Cherry color combo helps set the appearance of the Seltos off nicely. You can be sure you won’t see this color on every street corner.

What’s inside?

The front row of the new Kia Seltos SX includes the latest technology.
The second row seat of the new Kia Seltos is very roomy.
The cargo area of the new Seltos.

The interior of the Seltos features very Euro-centric roots, which is to be expected when many of the company design honchos hailed from German auto concerns before joining Kia and Hyundai. It shows inside when you consider it appears slighty Audi-like. Most models include an 8-inch display screen, while our top-shelf SX model includes the 10.25-inch touchscreen display screen.

The SX model includes a Bose premium audio system that includes multi-faceted speaker grilles and even pulsate with light to the beat of whatever music is playing. The Seltos features class-leading cargo space and two-stage storage. The floor behind the second row can be stored in two positions: flush flat with the second row folded forward. Set it lower and it becomes a storage tray that keeps what you are carrying from rolling around.

The Seltos as seen from the rear.

Behind the wheel of the Kia Seltos

Our tester featured the 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4 cylinder that is used throughout the Kia family. Acceleration was very brisk and the Kia managed to weave in and out of traffic with ease. It was child’s play that got us past what are typically tourist-choked highways in the State of Florida.

The engine was peppy at all speed levels but did seem a bit sluggish when starting from cold. The dual-clutch transmission enabled typically quick shifts that seemed to know when we wanted to get up and go, whenever we wanted.

The new Kia Seltos is ready, willing and able to get up and go. We’d even say it’s good enough for a road trip, should the mood strike you!



This post was published on October 4, 2021

Mark Elias

I've loved everything on wheels: Trains, Planes and definitely Automobiles. I am constantly in search of the latest in new technology, which makes our lives better each day, but will always respect the classics. You can't continue forward without first taking a look back at where you've been.

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