While competitors might only offer front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive for the higher trims, for the Seltos, front-wheel-drive is available only with the base trim. PHOTO: KIA

While competitors might only offer front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive for the higher trims, for the Seltos, front-wheel-drive is available only with the base trim. PHOTO: KIA

2021 Kia Seltos: Price-conscious compact utility vehicle that can actually go off-road

The Seltos can take on rougher terrain than many of its competitors

The early-2020 arrival of the Kia Seltos begs the question: Just how many utility-style vehicles can one automaker include in its lineup? The answer, it seems, is as many as it wants, provided there’s demand.

The Seltos name, in case you’re wondering, is derived from Celtos, son of Hercules in Greek Mythology.

The vehicle squeezes between the smaller Soul (10 centimetres shorter) and the larger and more mainstream Sportage (about 18 centimetres longer).

Although it shares the Hyundai Kona platform (Kia is a division of Hyundai), the two models go their own ways in terms of styling. The rugged-looking Seltos has considerably more carrying capacity, too, whether the rear seat is upright or folded flat. The Seltos also shows more than a hint of commonality with the full-size Kia Telluride, including the “tiger nose” grille that fronts the rounded front bumper and hood.

The sense of ruggedness carries over to the generous 18.5-cm ground clearance as well as the front and rear skid plates, ensuring that the Seltos can take on rougher terrain than many of its competitors.

The Seltos’s interior is highly detailed but not overdone. OK, the optional Bose audio package with flashing lights might be overdoing it a bit. PHOTO: KIA

The Seltos’s interior is highly detailed but not overdone. OK, the optional Bose audio package with flashing lights might be overdoing it a bit. PHOTO: KIA

The interior and dashboard are pretty much straightforward, but a thick steering wheel and equally substantial gear shifter are not normally associated with smaller utility vehicles. The standard 8.0-inch touch-screen and the available 10.25-inch unit protrude above the fresh-air vents, which some drivers might find restricts their forward vision.

In back, the split-folding rear seat also reclines. Behind it, the cargo floor can be lowered somewhat to accommodate taller objects.

Powertrain choices are the same as those found in the Kona: A 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine rated at 146 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque; and an optional 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that puts out 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet.

For both, selectable Normal, Eco and Sport — which really does feel sporty — settings alter the engine, transmission and steering performance.

A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is linked to the 2.0, while the turbo 1.6 gets a seven-speed automatic.

Fuel economy for the front-wheel-drive 2.0 is rated at 8.2 l/100 in the city, 7.1 on the highway and 7.7 combined.

On-demand all-wheel-drive is optional for the base Seltos LX, but is standard for the EX, EX Premium and SX Turbo trims. The system comes with a centre-locking differential that, when engaged, splits the torque equally between the front and rear wheels, providing more traction for traveling off road.

Torque vectoring, another AWD inclusion, applies light braking force to the inside wheels when turning, which Kia says increases vehicle control.

AWD-equipped models also get independent rear suspensions, while the front-wheel-drive S comes with a less sophisticated torsion-beam rear axle.

At a starting price of $25,000 including destination charges, the base FWD S 2.0 is equipped with mostly the basics, but it lacks the full suite of active-safety technologies, such as pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist and forward-collision avoidance. All come with the optional Kia Drive Wise package that also includes a reminder to check for passengers in the back seat before exiting the vehicle. Then there’s Safe Exit Assist that alerts anyone opening the doors of approaching traffic from the rear.

There are additional comfort and convenience features — depending on the trim level — such as a navigation system, power sunroof, premium seat coverings and a wireless charging pad. A Bose audio package has a mood-lighting feature with six different colours that change with the sound from the system’s six speakers. Somewhat distracting and a bit out of time with the music, it’s similar to the system available in the Kia Soul.

The addition of the niche-filling Seltos gives Kia a total of six tall utility models (seven, if you count the Sedona minivan) from the small Niro to the full-size Telluride. If you can’t find your desired size, content and affordable price-point in this bunch, you likely never will.

The optional 175-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder gets a seven-speed automatic transmission while the base non-turbo four-cylinder comes with a continuously variable unit. PHOTO: KIA

The optional 175-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder gets a seven-speed automatic transmission while the base non-turbo four-cylinder comes with a continuously variable unit. PHOTO: KIA

What you should know: 2021 Kia Seltos

Type: Four-door, front- /all-wheel-drive compact utility vehicle

Engines (h.p.): 2.0-litre DOHC I-4 (146); 1.6-litre DOHC I-4, turbocharged (175)

Transmission: Continuously variable (2.0); seven-speed automated manual (1.6 turbo)

Market position: Kia is attempting to straddle the line between urban transporter and off-road warrior by blending design and content elements of each vehicle type. It’s a strategy that other automakers are adopting as buyers gravitate to more rugged-looking tall wagons.

Points: Telluride-influenced vehicle is nicely proportioned. • Built to do much more than to conquer bad roads and poor weather. • Base engine will easily suffice, but the optional turbo four-cylinder is where the fun begins. • Base FWD model misses out on the available active-safety tech. • A distinctive attitude and purpose should almost guarantee success.

Driver assist: Blind-spot warning with cross-traffic backup alert (std.); active cruise control (opt.); front and rear emergency braking (opt.); inattentive driver alert (opt.); lane-departure warning (opt.); pedestrian detection (opt.)

L/100 km (city/hwy): 8.2/7.1 (FWD)

Base price (incl. destination): $25,000

BY COMPARISON

Jeep Compass

  • Base price: $27,400
  • Compact utility vehicle can be had in an off-road-ready Trailhawk model.

Mazda CX-30

  • Base price: $26,600
  • New-for-2020 model is all about good looks plus a strong 186-h.p. I-4 engine.

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

  • Base price: $30,300
  • Outlander Sport-based, but has its own 1.5-liter turbo engine. AWD is standard.

– written by Malcom Gunn, Managing Partner at Wheelbase Media

If you’re interested in new or used vehicles, be sure to visit TodaysDrive.com to find your dream car today! Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram

AutomotivecarsSUVsTrucks

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This map illustrates the number of active COVID-19 cases in Greater Vancouver from Feb. 21 to Feb. 27, 2021. (BC Centre for Disease Control image)
Delta’s COVID-19 numbers continue to climb

Total number of cases in Fraser Health increased by 206 from Feb. 21-27

An example of a Surrey Police cruiser, showcased at Mayor Doug McCallum’s State of the City Address at Civic Hotel in May of 2019. (File photo: Amy Reid)
Surrey Police Service hires first three inspectors as ‘next layer of leadership’

Three men have more than 80 years of combined experience

Scales of Justice
Court awards woman $167K after vehicle was struck by White Rock taxi in 2016

Plaintiff’s knee injuries and resulting chronic pain disability are genuine, judge rules

Delta police have arrested a suspect in the theft of a custom-made wheelchair hoist stolen from a Ladner condo complex’s underground parkade on Dec. 15, 2020. (Debbie J Green/Facebook photos)
Delta police arrest suspect in theft of custom wheelchair hoist

The device was stolen Dec. 15, 2020 in Ladner and later recovered, stripped and damaged, in Surrey

TEASER - SAGAís Gift Shop Manager Barbie Warwick wearing The Summons while sketching in Facing Time exhibit. Photo by Pardeep Singh.jpg
‘The Summons’ face masks created as fundraiser for Surrey Art Gallery Association

Image of magnolia flower and poetry printed on specially designed mask

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Burnaby Mounties responded to 56 complaints and issued 10 tickets to people flouting COVID-19 restrictions in February. (Patrick Davies/100 Mile Free Press)
COVID denier fined $2,300 for hosting gathering in her home: Burnaby RCMP

The woman told Mounties she does not believe the pandemic is real

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

RCMP members responded to calls of a man-down at Landsdowne mall in Richmond Wednesday afternoon. The 40-year-old was suffering from stab wounds. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man in critical condition following afternoon attack outside Richmond mall: RCMP

The Vancouver resident was found lying injured outside Richmond’s Lansdowne Centre

Most Read