The 2021 Kia Seltos: Strength & Style Under $22,000

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Aileen Luib adventuring outdoors with 2021 Kia Seltos SUV

Last week I joined the Kia USA family on a road trip to Calabasas to celebrate the all-new 2021 Kia Seltos. Anybody who’s been keeping tabs on my adventures is probably aware that I’ve been wanting to upgrade to a Kia Telluride, but after taking the Seltos on a road trip, the Seltos may have just won my heart. I absolutely love the luxurious feel of the Telluride, but the Seltos might be a more practical, versatile, and overall compatible vehicle for my lifestyle.

The Telluride marked Kia’s pivotal moment of innovation and design, and it was given the slogan “Give It Everything.” And it lived true to the slogan: it became the first SUV to win all three prestigious automotive awards and took home the 2020 NACTOY Utility Vehicle of the Year, MotorTrend SUV of the Year, and Car and Driver’s 10Best Award. The Telluride has been waitlisted, and even James Bell, Kia’s Director of Communications, has said he hasn’t even been able to get a company Telluride because as soon as they are manufactured, they are immediately shipped out to the next customer on the waitlist.

With all of the buzz about the Telluride, Kia decided to create the same driving experience for the rest of their vehicles, and the Seltos is no exception to being “given everything.” The Seltos is basically the little brother of the Telluride and features a lot of the same luxurious features, but in a sportier and more compact vehicle. Inspired by the myth of Hercules, the Seltos connects back to Celtus, the son of Heracles in Greek Mythology, to communicate the vehicle’s strength and power.

Herculean Interior Features Inspired By the Myth

Although the Seltos is more compact than the Telluride, the interior still has a lot of larger-than-life features: it’s got the largest touch-screen in its vehicle class, which stands 10.25 inches wide and features Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth Calling and more. The driver console also features a charging shelf that can charge your devices 20% faster than a traditional USB cable (although there are 2 USB ports in the front and the back seat as well). 

The Seltos also features an 8-speaker Bose sound system, which boasts a lot of clarity. I increased the volume to max and heard no distortion in both the treble and bass levels.

Even More Driver Assistance Features For a Safer Experience

I was already impressed with the laundry list of driver assistance features that the Telluride has, but the Seltos has all that and even more. In an effort to promote road safety, the Seltos is equipped with Kia’s brand-new Leading Vehicle Departure Alert, in which the vehicle alerts the driver when the vehicle in front has started moving. This feature helps create more attentive drivers by bringing them away from distractions.

All Kia vehicles come equipped with the Driver Attention Warning System, but the Leading Vehicle Departure Alert in the Seltos is basically an upgraded version.

Kia’s Drive Wise is also another incredible feature of the Seltos (and all the Kia vehicles in general): the vehicle assesses its surroundings and will course-correct accordingly if the driver veers off the road or takes their hands off the steering wheel completely. This advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) is a highly accurate and safe feature that gives us a glimpse into Kia’s future plans of fully-autonomous driving cars.

On top of the above features, the Seltos comes with an available automated emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-keeping assist, which are a few features that were so loved in the Telluride.

Exterior of 2021 Kia Seltos SUV

Responsive and Customizable Handling for the Perfect Off-Road Experience

Although I loved that the Telluride married both comfort and utility within a single driving experience, I truly feel like sportier folks may prefer the Seltos more. The Seltos has 3 driving modes – Normal, Sport, and Eco, which all utilize different powertrain, drivetrain and steering settings depending on the driving experience desired. Normal offers a comfortable suspension, Sport tightens up the steering and stability, and Eco provides better fuel economy.

The Telluride offers a standard four-wheel drive with an optional all-wheel-drive system available for an additional $2,000, but every trim level for the Seltos features all-wheel drive and a center locking differential without additional costs, so you have more torque off the bat.

Competing with other popular SUVs in its class, the Seltos has a 28-degree approach angle, which is more than the Jeep Renegade and Subaru Crosstrek.

Storage space and rear cargo for 2021 Kia Seltos

The Perfect Size for Picky People

The Seltos competes with compact SUVs like the Honda HR-V, Toyota C-HR, Ford EcoSport, and Nissan Kicks: it’s a small crossover that is just in-between Kia’s Soul and slightly larger Sportage SUV. It’s the perfect-size SUV to upgrade to from a sedan and a great option for those looking to downsize from a larger SUV.

It competes with the Chevy Equinox in terms of interior space: the back features 26.6 cubic feet of storage space, but when the rear seats are dropped, you can maximize 62.8 cubic feet to store your belongings, which makes the Seltos a great option for weekend warriors looking to spend a few days on the road or outdoors.

And in addition to the rear cargo hold, the back seat is surprisingly spacious, which may be a concern for many SUVs in the same size class. Taller folks around 6-feet tall will find themselves comfortable in the back seat!

Exterior of 2021 Kia Seltos SUV

A Loaded Sport Vehicle For an Affordable Price

The 2021 Kia Seltos has 5 available trim levels: LX, S 2.0L, EX, S 1.6T, and SX. And even fully loaded at the highest SX trim level, it’s still under $28,000. For the price, you get much more than you pay for: the Seltos has features you can find in other makes and models for considerably less.

Prices below exclude a destination charge of $1,120.

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Technical Specs

2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine

  • Intelligent Variable Transmission
  • 146 horsepower
  • 132 lb-ft. of torque
  • Standard on LX, S and EX
  • Fuel economy: 31 MPG 29 34 combined city/hwy city hwy 3.2 gal/100 mi

1.6-liter turbocharged engine

  • 7-Speed Dual-Clutch Transmission
  • 175 horsepower
  • 195 lb-ft. of torque
  • Standard on S Turbo and SX
  • Fuel economy: 29 MPG 27 31 combined city/hwy city hwy 3.4 gal/100 mi

Kia’s stylish Seltos is a win in my book. The car boasts style, sportiness, and performance with an affordable price tag. Click here to learn more and find a Kia Seltos near you.

Aileen Luib driving the 2021 Kia Seltos SUV

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