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  • 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show – First Look: 2021 Kia Seltos

2019 Los Angeles Auto Show – First Look: 2021 Kia Seltos

Compact Crossover Slots in Beneath Sportage, Two Concepts Preview Its Future

Nov 22, 2019
Kia will add another crossover to its lineup, slotting in beneath the Sportage and above the Soul. The 2021 Kia Seltos, which has already been revealed for other global markets, has now officially been confirmed for the United States.
The Seltos' genealogy is a bit of a mystery; when it was first announced, we assumed it would be Kia's version of the Hyundai Kona, or perhaps the smaller Hyundai Venue. Instead, the Seltos rides on a wheelbase that's quite a bit longer than either of those machines, at 104 inches (according to global market specifications. It's also 172.2 inches long, 71 inches wide, and 64 inches tall, making it just a shade smaller than the Sportage and Hyundai Tucson in every metric. What's more, the Kia Seltos features bold, bluff styling that should provide impressive cargo and passenger room owing to a squared-off roofline.
Photo 2/41   |   2021 Kia Seltos Exterior Rear Quarter 04
Skin-Deep Beauty, at the Very Least
That styling looks a bit like a Kia Soul made from taffy, then stretched in every direction. The Seltos offers Kia's take on the contrast-color roof trend, separated from the rest of the body by an attractive swath of satin silver brightwork. The Kia Seltos features a nearly flat, horizontal hood profile that looks a bit more butch than some of the tumbling, carlike prows on other crossovers, and that's a move that we think we like.
Unlike other Kia products, the Seltos SX's LED "Beat" headlights bleed into the brand's signature tiger-nose grille, and those lighting elements offer very technological styling that's more daring than we've come to expect. Indeed, the Seltos, taken as a whole, is much more distinctive than the larger Kia Telluride—although handsome, the Telluride could be accused of being a bit anonymous.
Photo 3/41   |   2021 Kia Seltos Exterior Front Quarter 03
The global Kia Seltos features an attractive cabin that does a good impression of the large, posh Telluride. We like the available contrast-color dash and door panel trim, as well as the freestanding infotainment display that looks cleaner and better-integrated than most. Predictably, materials used inside are pretty cheap, but this is an entry-level crossover SUV, so that's not unwarranted.
Choose Your Adventure
Predictably, the Seltos will be available with all-wheel drive or front-wheel drive, but it also offers the choice of two different powertrains. Standard is a 2.0L port-injected I-4 that produces 146 hp and 132 lb-ft, paired exclusively to a continuously variable transmission; expect this to be the loss leader, appearing in the LX, S, and EX trim levels. Available on the S and standard on the SX will be a 1.6L turbocharged I-4, routing 175 hp and 195 lb-ft through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Either engine will be available with all-wheel drive, which uses brake-based torque vectoring to keep power going where it's most useful. All-wheel-drivers get a multilink rear suspension, while front-drivers make use of a torsion beam back there. Front MacPherson struts are the suspension du jour regardless of drivetrain.
Photo 4/41   |   2021 Kia Seltos Exterior Side Profile 01
In its media introduction to the Seltos, Kia makes mention of a front bumper design that "provides a sharper approach angle for adventurous driving," but don't think that means this will be a rugged off-roader. While will probably be able to tackle dirt roads, snow, and rain with aplomb, we presume that PR copy references deep potholes and large speed humps, not rocks and gravel.
The Good Life
The 2021 Kia Seltos has a long list of standard and available features, but we're disappointed to learn that active safety technologies like automated emergency braking and forward collision monitoring are optional. Still, there are a few unexpected surprises on the features list. A standard reclining rear seat, adjustable rear cargo floor, and OLED productivity display in the gauge cluster bolster comfort and convenience to an uncommon level in small vehicles.
Photo 5/41   |   2021 Kia Seltos Interior Infotainment
Higher in the trim walk, the Seltos offers niceties like rear air vents and USB charge ports, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift selector, and wireless smartphone charging. There's also an eight-speaker Bose audio system on offer, which we presume takes commands from the optional 10.25-inch high-resolution touchscreen infotainment display. Kia makes specific mention of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, but we're not sure if it's a standard feature or one only available with the big infotainment screen.
Photo 6/41   |   2021 Kia Seltos Interior Front Cabin
Coming Soon to a Theater Near You
The 2021 Kia Seltos will arrive in showrooms in Spring 2020. The company hasn't revealed specific starting prices yet, but it did admit that both the all-wheel-drive Seltos and the front-wheel-drive Seltos S 2.0 will have starting prices below $22,000. That's comfortably below the Kia Sportage LX FWD's starting price of $23,990, giving the Seltos a good shot at selling well in the market. Going up against the likes of the smaller and more cramped Toyota CH-R, the excellent Honda HR-V, and the aforementioned Hyundai Kona, the Seltos should offer a slightly more rugged take on the subcompact-SUV formula. And if it's as spacious as its styling and exterior dimensions would suggest, it could be an amazing first vehicle for a new family.
Photo 7/41   |   2021 Kia Seltos Exterior Front Quarter 06

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