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2021 Kia Seltos



The year 2020 has barely started, but Kia has just introduced a totally new 2021 Kia Seltos, a small SUV. Unlike its soul mate, the boxy Soul, this SUV’s styling is more contemporary. True, the grille arena has the classic rectangular Kia look, but with some very high tech and sweeping headlights on the sides of the grille. The roofline has the rails and a spoiler like many SUVs, but the side windows have a novel triangle shaped last window. The overall height is somewhat between a tall large SUV and a sedan. The sides have various lines and indents, and the back area has a large chrome piece and big taillights. Overall, the look is a distinctive contrast from its closest soul mate.

Interestingly, there are multiple powertrain choices. The standard powerplant is a 2-liter, four cylinder developing 146 horsepower tied to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). For those who want more power, a smaller but turbocharged 1.6 liter four cylinder throws out 175 ponies. This engine, however, has 7-speed automatic transmission. Perhaps more surprising is that, besides the standard front wheel drive system, is an optional all wheel drive system. Pricing starts at about $22,000. And like all Kia’s, an excellent warranty is part of the package with an overall warranty of 5 years/60,000 miles and powertrain one of 10 years/100,000 miles.

Like many these days, the interior has a large (8 inch) video screen in the center of the dash which looks like a iPad mounted sideways. A larger 10.3 inch screen is optional. Fortunately, it can be operated by touch or with many dials and buttons on each side of it. In reverse gear, a clear video look of the area behind the car is shown. And, of course, smart phone apps can be added to the screen. A simple climate system with 3 dials handles cooling needs. A much smaller video screen is between the speedometer and tachometer in the dashpod. It can show data like mpg, distances, etc. and is controlled with buttons on the steering wheel.

Rear room is quite generous given the overall size of this SUV. Handles are built into the ceiling above all the doors. Even with our all wheel drive model, the floor driveshaft hump is relatively small and low. Under the liftgate is a nicely lined interior and reasonable storage is presented. The rear seat backs are split 60/40 and are easily dropped to carry large items with the pull of the handles on top of the seats.

On the road, the ride is reasonability absorbing of some of our rougher roads. Cornering is easily handled without any floating. The engine at normal speeds is quiet, but can be heard when the powerplant is pushed. Acceleration is not lighting fast with our test model’s least powerful engine with a 0-60 time of 9.2 seconds. And as expected, the CVT transmission is shiftless, but can be “shifted” and held in gear by moving the gear lever to the left and moving it up and down. And there are three driving modes that are easily changed…normal, sport, and smart. In our all wheel drive model, the average gas mileage rating is 29 mpg. The fuel mileage is helped with a start/stop system at lights, and is a very smooth operator and is barely noticed or felt. Besides 6 airbags and curtains, optional is a set of safety systems that provides various warnings and assistance.

So for year 2020, we suddenly have a new 2021 model SUV. Considering its styling and multiple powertrain choices, it could be a good seller no matter what model year it is.

Tech Specs

Model: Small SUV 5 passengers
Price: $21,990, as tested $23,680
Powertrain: Test model 2.0 liter 4 cylinder, 146 hp. CVT transmission. Optional 1.6 liter, 4 cylinder, turbocharged 175 horsepower. Front wheel drive, all wheel drive optional
Fuel mileage: Test model all wheel drive 29 mpg average, 27 mpg city, 31 mpg highway.
Performance: Test model, 0-60: 9.2 seconds

High Beams
Good looking styling package. Reasonably roomy interior. Mulitple powertrain choices.

Low Beam
Somewhat large rear seat headrests partially block the rear view.


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