2021 Kia Seltos

2021 Kia Seltos Review

The 2021 Kia Seltos stands out among subcompact SUVs for its excellent passenger and cargo space. Acceleration is a bit lackluster, however. This vehicle does not have an overall score or ranking because it has not been fully crash tested or rated for reliability.

Pros & Cons

  • Voluminous cargo hold
  • Ample rear passenger space
  • Great fuel economy
  • Nice interior quality for the class
  • Base engine lacks punch at high speeds
  • Unrefined dual-clutch transmission

Research & Ratings

The 2021 Kia Seltos is unranked in Subcompact SUVs due to missing safety data. Currently, the Kia Seltos's overall score is not available, though its Critics' Rating, Performance score, and Interior score are based on our evaluation of 11 pieces of research and data.

N/A

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.0
Performance: 7.4
Interior: 8.5
Safety:
This model has never been fully tested for safety. As a result, it doesn't have an overall score and cannot be ranked against other subcompact suvs.
TBD
Reliability:
This model has never been fully tested for reliability. As a result, it doesn't have an overall score and cannot be ranked against other subcompact suvs.
TBD

Is the Kia Seltos a Good SUV?

Yes, the all-new Seltos is a good subcompact SUV. It bests nearly all rivals when it comes to cargo volume, and it offers two rows of adult-friendly seating. This crossover gets good fuel economy and comes with lots of tech and an easy-to-use infotainment system. The cabin features many plastics, but the overall atmosphere is pleasing.

The Seltos' base engine gets you around town as it's supposed to, but it's weaker at higher speeds. The optional turbocharged engine offers more power, but it comes with a dual-clutch transmission that's slow and inconsistent. Handling is adequate for daily driving, but it won't get your heart racing.

Should I Buy the Kia Seltos?

The Seltos is a well-rounded SUV worthy of your consideration, especially the higher trims. Upper trims are only modestly more expensive than the base model, but they come with a lot more standard features. The fully-loaded SX Turbo costs just under $28,000, which is competitive for the class. The Seltos also boasts class-leading cargo space and roomy seats.

That said, there are other good choices in the class, including the Hyundai Kona and Mazda CX-30, both of which offer livelier handling than the Seltos.

Compare the Seltos, Kona, and CX-30 »

2020 vs. 2021 Kia Seltos: What's the Difference?

The Kia Seltos is an all-new model so there are no older versions available.

We Did the Research for You: 11 Reviews Analyzed

We analyzed 11 Kia Seltos reviews – along with reliability ratings, fuel economy estimates, and more – to help you decide if the 2021 Seltos is the right new car for you.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined automotive industry experience. To remain objective, we don't accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an outside team manages the advertising on our site.

How Much Does the Kia Seltos Cost?

The all-new 2021 Kia Seltos has a base price of $21,990, which is about average for the subcompact SUV class. The Seltos' top trim starts at $27,890.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great deals at your local Kia dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Kia deals page.

Kia Seltos Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Kia Seltos or Hyundai Kona?

The high-ranking Hyundai Kona is more athletic and fun-to-drive than the Seltos. The Kia, on the other hand, serves up a lot more cargo space and offers roomier second-row accommodations. Both crossovers have impressive interiors and a comparable list of features. The Kona comes standard with forward collision warning, lane keep assist, and driver attention monitoring (optional in the Seltos), while the Seltos offers a large 10.25-inch infotainment screen (the Kona's largest screen is 8 inches). Choosing between these SUVs comes down to what you prioritize more: the space and utility of the Seltos or the more playful nature of the Kona.

Which Is Better: Kia Seltos or Subaru Crosstrek?

The Subaru Crosstrek comes standard with all-wheel drive, but its only available engine is underwhelming. This Subaru also suffers from dull steering. The Seltos has several more cubic feet of cargo space than the Crosstrek, and the back seat is a bit roomier too. In general, there's nothing that the Crosstrek offers that you can't get with the Seltos, so stick with the latter.

Compare the Seltos, Kona, and Crosstrek »

Seltos Interior

How Many People Does the Seltos Seat?

The Seltos seats five people. This Kia is a subcompact SUV in name only, as both rows of seats provide ample room for occupants. The driver and front passenger enjoy excellent outward visibility in all directions, and the seats are comfortable, even for extended periods of time. Manually adjustable front seats are standard, but you can opt for a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat.

The second row is spacious enough for taller adults to relax, even when the front seats are pushed back. What's more, all models feature a standard reclining back seat.

Seltos and Child Car Seats

There are two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the Seltos' rear outboard seats.

Seltos Interior Quality

The Seltos is an entry-level SUV with an abundance of plastic surfaces, but they’re high quality. The design is similar to those of more upmarket Kias, and everything feels solidly put together.

Seltos Cargo Space

This Kia has the largest cargo hold in the subcompact SUV class and even bests some in the compact SUV class. You get 26.6 cubic feet of storage room behind the rear seats, and those seats fold flat to offer a maximum of 62.8 cubic feet.

The hatch opening is wide, and a low cargo floor makes it easier to lift in heavy items.

Seltos Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The Seltos comes standard with an 8-inch touch-screen infotainment system that incorporates support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The display sits high on the dashboard within clear sightlines of the driver. It's also easy to operate, whether you're pressing on-screen buttons or adjusting other functions via large and clearly labeled physical controls elsewhere on the center stack.

However, some critics note that the screen sometimes freezes up, and a few complain that the display’s graphics are underwhelming.

Kia offers a 10.25-inch touch screen, which debuted with the all-new three-row Kia Telluride. This upgraded infotainment system comes with navigation, split-screen functionality, and the UVO telematics system, which allows for custom infotainment profiles for multiple users and helps you keep track of maintenance, vehicle notifications, and alerts.

Read more about interior »

Seltos Performance

Seltos Engine: Some Good, Some Bad

The all-new Kia Seltos comes standard with a 146-horsepower four-cylinder engine. Mated to a smooth-shifting continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), this engine has plenty of power for around-town driving, but it struggles as you get up to higher speeds or try to pass faster-moving cars on a freeway.

A 175-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder is optional. This powertrain delivers more grunt and muscle, but there's noticeable turbo lag when you accelerate hard from a stop. This engine is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. At lower speeds, this transmission bumbles around to find the appropriate gear. It can also hesitate to downshift when more power is needed.

Seltos Gas Mileage: Top of the Pile

The 2021 Seltos has some of the best fuel economy numbers in the subcompact SUV class. With the base engine and front-wheel drive, the Seltos returns an EPA-estimated 29 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. Add all-wheel drive and estimates dip to 27 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. Models with the turbo engine get 25/30 mpg city/highway.

Seltos Ride and Handling: Another Mixed Bag

The Seltos has so-so handling. Some critics think that the steering is well-weighted and that this little Kia is somewhat fun to drive. Others note that there's little to no feedback from the road, and that handling is dull. You'll find sportier characteristics in models equipped with the turbocharged engine.

The Seltos is easy to maneuver in tight spaces, and its suspension keeps body motions mostly controlled when cornering. Ride quality is fine, but larger bumps can upset a serene cabin, and you might notice some wind and road noise.

Read more about performance »

Seltos Reliability

Is the Kia Seltos Reliable?

The 2021 Kia Seltos does not have a reliability rating at the time of writing.

Kia Seltos Warranty

Kia covers the Seltos with a five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Seltos Safety

Seltos Crash Test Results

As of this writing, neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash tested the all-new Seltos.

Seltos Safety Features

The Kia Seltos comes standard with a rearview camera and a rear-seat reminder that alerts you to check the second row before leaving the vehicle. Several additional driver assistance features come standard in every model except the base LX trim. These include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, driver attention monitoring, automatic high-beam headlights, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and lane centering assist.

Other available active safety technologies include blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, speed limit recognition and speed limiting, and stop-and-go adaptive cruise control.

Read more about safety »

Seltos Dimensions and Weight

The Seltos is 14.3 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 2,948 to 3,317 pounds.

Where Is the 2021 Kia Seltos Built?

Kia builds the 2021 Seltos in India and South Korea.

Which Kia Seltos Model Is Right for Me?

The 2021 Kia Seltos is available in five trims: LX, S, EX, S Turbo, and SX Turbo. The three lower trims feature a 2.0-liter engine, while the two highest models come with a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine.

The Seltos LX and S have the same starting price, and they both can be viewed as base models. The LX comes standard with all-wheel drive, while the S has a few more features but comes with front-wheel drive. Pick the S if you value driver assistance features such as automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, and lane keep assist. A rearview camera is the only advanced safety feature in the LX.

Several features are limited to the top SX Turbo trim, including a 10.25-inch touch screen, a Bose stereo, satellite radio, and adaptive cruise control.

Kia Seltos LX

The Kia Seltos LX starts at $21,990. Standard features include all-wheel drive, an 8-inch touch-screen infotainment system, Bluetooth, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a six-speaker stereo, a rearview camera, a USB port, cloth upholstery, a six-way manually adjustable driver's seat, a four-way manually adjustable passenger seat, a reclining rear seat, and a rear-seat reminder.

Kia Seltos S

The Kia Seltos S also starts at $21,990. It comes with front-wheel drive instead of all-wheel drive, but adds heated outside mirrors, partial synthetic leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, driver attention monitoring, automatic high-beam headlights, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and lane centering assist.

All-wheel drive and heated front seats are available for $1,500.

Kia Seltos EX

Starting at $25,290, the Kia Seltos EX builds on the S trim and adds all-wheel drive, a sunroof, two additional USB ports, wireless device charging, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, automatic climate control, synthetic leather upholstery, a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

Kia Seltos S Turbo

The Kia Seltos S Turbo retails for $25,490. It largely mirrors the features and amenities of the S trim, but it has a more powerful turbocharged engine.

Kia Seltos SX Turbo

The Kia Seltos SX Turbo ($27,890) includes all the features from the lower trims and adds a 10.25-inch touch screen, an eight-speaker Bose premium stereo, satellite radio, a 7-inch digital instrument cluster display, speed limit recognition, and adaptive cruise control. None of those added features are available in the other trims.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Kia dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Kia deals page.

See 2021 Kia Seltos specs and trims »

The Final Call

The all-new 2021 Kia Seltos isn’t the most powerful or athletic subcompact SUV, but it features an expansive cargo hold, roomy seating, and a quality interior.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "The Seltos is positioned as an all-arounder that does a pretty good job at almost everything thrown at it, as long as it isn't being pushed to the limit." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Despite its diminutive, city-friendly size, the new Kia Seltos stands out with class-leading cargo room, all the latest tech, and an adventurous attitude." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Overall, Kia has supplied the Seltos with the style, interior space, and technology to stand out in a segment that's seeing demand soar. And you're not only getting the looks; the Seltos delivers on the handling and fun factors." -- Motor Trend
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