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What’s It Like to Drive the 2021 Kia Seltos?



Find out how Kia has come out with a compelling subcompact with its good-looking and practical 2021 Seltos.

If you’re looking for a nice subcompact SUV, you’re certainly not alone. It’s one of the more popular types of vehicles for families, and you sure do have a lot of options to choose from. But before you make your final pick, you really ought to consider the 2021 Kia Seltos.

Upon first glance, the 2021 Seltos looks nice. But it has lots more going for it than its good looks. You have 5 trims available, with a starting price of $23,110. We tried out the SX, which comes with a $29,010 price tag.

Plenty of Room

With its 172-inch length, it’s quite longer than the Soul and Kona models. The interior space is among the roomiest in the whole subcompact SUV sector.

In front, you have 40 inches of headroom and 41.4 inches of legroom. It’s not that much tighter in the rear seats, as you still get 38.4 inches of headroom and 38 inches of legroom. You can seat 2 adults at the back and they won’t complain, even if they’re both 6 feet tall. They can even recline the seat for a more relaxed sitting position.

If you don’t have anyone at the back, you can fold them almost flat to really increase the cargo space. You can even lower the cargo floor for more space for your stuff.

Interior Comfort and Tech

With the price of the SX, we would have liked to have better alternatives than the rough leatherette on the seats. There’s also too much hard plastic on the dash, center console, and door panels. But these are our main gripes, which means you have lots of good things inside.

That’s especially true with the tech, which gives you a youthful vibe all-around. You’ll find it easy to use the 10.3-inch screen, and it’s quick to respond. It also works with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. In the SX, navigation is also a standard feature.

The UVO Link app allows you to see the location of your car, which helps if you forget where you parked it in the huge mall parking lot. Once you’re near the car, you can even use the smartphone to open (or lock) the doors.

This app also works with Amazon Alexa and Google Home. So you can just tell Alexa to adjust the auto climate control before you drive out.

Here you have heated front seats, a wireless charger for your smartphone, and 3 USB ports. Then you have the premium Bose audio system. Younger passengers will like how the ambient lighting system synchs with the beat of the music. Even the speaker design is cool and playful with its fractal look.

Driving the Seltos

All in all, it’s a quick little SUV with its impressive straight-line acceleration and nice smooth upshifts even when you’re feeling frisky.

The steering feel offers a precisely weighted feel, which gives the drive lots of useful feedback. It handles winding roads well enough, with a secure grip and minimal body roll. Your passengers should be able to sleep inside on long road trips, since the suspension is well able to take in the bump impact forces.

Go all in with a full throttle, and the punchy 1.6L turbo engine takes only 6.6 seconds to get to 60 mph. It’s only when you’re limited to low parking lot speeds that you notice how the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission don’t offer the smooth transitions you want.

You have 3 drive modes here, starting with the Normal mode. This is the mode for relaxed everyday driving, as it makes everything nice and comfy. You get a mild steering feel, and the transmission shifts between the 2,000 to 2,500 rpm range.

Switch to the Sport mode, and the car become more aggressive. The transmission requires a bit more rpm before you upshift. The steering gives you an improved weight, and it feels stiffer.

Finally, there’s the Smart mode. This is when you’re feeling ambivalent about your mood, and it combines the Normal and Sport modes to accommodate your feelings. If you want to tone things down, then it gives you a more refined ride with greater comfort. But once you feel a bit friskier, the Seltos instantly gives you that aggressive feel for a sportier ride.

The Seltos also offers several safety features that also make for a more comfortable ride. These features include the stop and go feature, smart cruise control, and lane keep assist. Highway driving should be a lot less stressful with this Kia subcompact SUV.

Keep in mind, however, that we drove the SX trim that had the independent rear suspension. This is only standard in the AWD model. The other trims may have FWD, along with a torsion beam suspension. That may change the ride experience.


It’s fair enough to say that the 2021 Kia Seltos is a heck of a car, offering great value in its price range. It scores well in all the categories, and it looks nice to boot. This should give you a terrific ride for your money, with a delightful combination of sportiness and comfort.

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