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  • Writer's pictureMarc Gonzalez

2021 Kia Seltos SX Turbo

This week we are reviewing the Kia Seltos SX Turbo. Our vehicle was assembled at the Gwang-Ju plant in South Korea. It has an MSRP of $34605.00 CAD.

KIA Seltos Turbo

Fun Factor: 6

Can it Family: 8

Fuel-Friendly: 7

HWY-warrior: 8

Karaoke-Friendly: 6

Baby-Friendly: 7

City Cruising: 5

KIA Seltos

We were looking forward to testing the KIA Seltos with the family. We had first seen it at the press launch, and right away, we knew that KIA had a good package on its hand. The compact SUV segment is currently the most sought after, so it is important to differentiate from others by price, options included, and styling. Kia is known to be quite aggressive when it comes to pricing and options. While the exterior is not the most exciting, one can surely spice it up with its Starbright Yellow to bring some shine into your life. Under the hood, you will find 2 engines, one a naturally aspirated engine with an output of 146 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque hooked up to an Intelligent Variable Transmission that returns good fuel economy for an AWD vehicle. If you are looking for something more engaging, the model we tested came with the optional 1.6L Turbo engine returning a respectable 175hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. This time equipped with a 7-speed dual-clutch, it may not have been the best combination for this engine. While it returns impressive fuel economy and smooth shifts on the highway, the contrary can be said when driving at low speeds; we will talk about this in our last section.

KIA Seltos interior

The KIA Seltos outshines its competition by its efficient use of interior space, it provides lots of headroom, and its rear passengers have ample room to feel cozy. Optionally you can have rear heated seats so your rear passengers can feel nice and toasty in the winter. The button to activate the heated seats is well positioned just beside the door handle. Siblings may not turn them inadvertently on during those warm summer months. The trunk is spacious enough to fit a large stroller and still have space for groceries. If that is not enough, you have the option to recline the rear seats giving you almost a flat loading floor. They fold in a 60/40 split.

The average fuel economy we observed during our 500km test was 9.7L/100km. We had an average of 11.1L/100km in the city and 7.3L/100km on the HWY, which is even lower than KIA announces. On our regular test route, we could even get as low as 6.6L/100, keeping a constant speed. KIA announces a combined fuel economy of 8.7L/100km, 9.4L/100km in the city and 7.9L/100km on the HWY. We conducted our test while outside temperatures oscillated between +15c and -6C.

With such a good fuel economy, the KIA Seltos is ideal for long road trips with the family without breaking the bank. Visibility around the cabin is good; with our Turbo variant, you will also get the heads up display so that you can keep an eye on your speed without taking your eyes off the road. Something quite rare to see in the compact SUV segment was the Highway Drive Assist, which works like an adaptive cruise control that can steer the vehicle. The feature was pleasant to use in traffic or on long straight stretches. While we find this system to be fantastic in other KIA products such as the Telluride or the Niro, where we could drive a full 3 minutes without touching the steering wheel or other intervention, in the Seltos, the system would easily disengage over slight bends. The Seltos does especially well in terms of security features such as blind-spot collision warning, rear Cross-Traffic Alert that come standard. The enhanced version of these features will be available starting with the EX-trim, which we find is the sweet spot in its lineup.

Since KIA works a lot with trims to include all their features, our SX Turbo is the model that comes with all the bells and whistles. As a result, this means you are getting the Bose sound system. While we do not necessarily find that this system is worth the upgrade, it is a step up from the base model. In recent KIA's, we love their 10.25-inch screen that offers ease of operation on higher trims. Naturally, Apple Car Play and Android Auto come standard on all trims and work well even on the slower 8inch screens.

KIA Seltos

The Seltos doors open wide enough, and we had no problems getting car seats into the vehicle. If you want easy access, the Seltos should be the number one vehicle on your shortlist in this segment. We do not like normally like when the latches are hidden in the seats, but in this case, the seats' shape allowed us to latch the car seat without trouble. Families with young kids will enjoy the space the Seltos provides them. You can even use an infant car seat, and it wouldn't take away legroom space from the front passenger. When our youngest child entered the vehicle, he had no issues opening the doors nor any difficulty getting into the vehicle. The part we found less than ideal was the belt buckle's location for the middle seat and its accessibility, often requiring an adult intervention when kids used all 3 seats.

While we found that the Seltos was fantastic to drive with its punchy 1.6 turbocharged engine, this was not the case in the city with the dual-clutch transmission that seemed not to be the right for this task. It often felt hesitant and almost brought us back to the days where we started driving a manual transmission. On the other hand, the IVT that comes with the standard 2.0L engine does a better job in an urban environment. The compact size made it easy to park while fitting a maximum number of items making our neighbour with a bigger car jealous of how much fit in the Seltos. Nonetheless, the Seltos remains one of our favourite SUVs in this segment with its versatility, price competitiveness and as a package as a whole.

Why would we buy the KIA Seltos, or what we liked about it? The amount of space you get with this format, good fuel economy on the HWY, easy access into the vehicle front and rear passengers, plenty of standard kit including security features, good handling. If you plan on using this vehicle for a road trip, you will be delighted by its versatility.

Why would we not buy the KIA Seltos, or what we did not like about it? No Hybrid variant available for urban dwellers, dual-clutch transmission feeling jerky, braking felt a little spongy.

KIA has lent us this vehicle one week as a press vehicle. We have no affiliation with KIA Canada. The above is a recollection of our personal opinion of the car referred above.

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