2021 Kia Seltos

2021 Kia Seltos: Son of Hercules Is a Strong One

  • 2021 Kia Seltos is the latest SUV in the automaker’s growing lineup.
  • The Seltos is available with all-wheel drive and torque vectoring.
  • Kia says it will hit the market during the first quarter of 2020.

Kia is on a roll with their SUVs these days. On the heels of the Telluride (which was released earlier this year) is the 2021 Kia Seltos compact SUV. The Seltos is a smidgen larger than the Soul but smaller than the Sportage. But unlike those two, the Seltos is obviously gifted with a marginal sprinkling of Telluride DNA.

Here’s a fun fact: The Seltos name is derived from Celtos, the son of Hercules in Greek mythology. In this case, Hercules is the Telluride, fresh off being named MotorTrend’s 2020 SUV of the Year, a title it grabbed from the Audi e-tron, Lincoln Aviator, Mercedes-Benz GLS, and Porsche Cayenne among others.

All The Boxy Goodness: Just Smaller

According to Kia’s press release, the Seltos is a “marriage of bold design and delicate details.” Now, I don’t know about that, but there’s a simpler way of explaining how the Seltos looks. It’s a smaller Telluride, and that’s that. And in that regard, the Seltos stands out from the absurdly distorted styling of direct rivals like the Toyota CH-R and the weirdly amusing Honda HR-V. This makes it more desirable for those who want traditional SUV styling cues from their small crossovers.

Similar to Telluride, the Seltos has a tall front end and an assertive appearance. Being a Kia, it also has a large tiger-nose grille and slimmer headlamps. It also has 7.2-inches of ground clearance and a thoughtful front/rear bumper design to enhance the approach angle when traversing off-road terrain. Being a bit larger than the Soul means a longer wheelbase and a more pronounced hood. Kia also gave the Seltos an optional two-tone roof for an added dose of sportiness and character.

2021 Kia Seltos
2021 Kia Seltos. Photo: Kia Motors America.

What Type of Engine Does The Kia Seltos have?

The U.S.-bound Kia Seltos has two engine choices. The first is a naturally-aspirated 2.0-liter four-banger with 146 horsepower and 132 lb-ft. of torque. This engine is standard on the LX, S, and EX trim and is accompanied by a CVT transmission which Kia calls an IVT or Intelligent Variable Transmission.

Meanwhile, the next engine is a turbocharged 1.6-liter direct-injected mill, good for 175 horsepower and 195 lb-ft. of torque. Standard in the Seltos S and SX, this engine is mated to a slick seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. If all this sounds familiar, you’re right on the money since you get the same engine choices in the equally striking Hyundai Kona.

Front-wheel drive is standard on the base model Seltos while Kia’s active, on-demand all-wheel drive system is optional across the board. It’s essentially the same AWD system from the Sportage with a center locking differential lifted from the Telluride. In addition, the AWD system also has a torque vectoring feature that feeds power to the wheels with most grip.

2021 Kia Seltos
The Seltos is 61 percent high-strength steel and includes 374 feet of structural adhesives. Photo: Kia Motors America.

Roomy Interior

According to Kia, the new Seltos has the most interior volume in its class, and we don’t find that hard to believe. The Seltos does offer generous hip, shoulder, leg, and headroom for its size with enough space for five grown adults, according to the automaker. The rear seats, in particular, have a reclining feature for those longer trips. Also standard are rear air vents and USB charging ports for backseat passengers.

As an added bonus, the Seltos has a moveable rear luggage board to expand cargo space in the boot. And if you need to carry larger stuff, folding the rear seats and lifting the luggage board gives you a flat loading space to carry planks of wood, sports equipment, camping gear, and anything else you need.

2021 Kia Seltos
2021 Kia Seltos rear cargo area. Photo: Kia Motors America.

The Kia Seltos Is Brimming With Technology

An eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system is standard while a larger 10-inch screen is optional with the navigation package. With this, you also get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless charging, and an available Bose premium audio system with eight speakers.

Also available is a plethora of advanced driver-assistance features. Blind-spot collision warning, collision avoidance, driver attention warning, adaptive cruise control, and lane-keeping assist are either standard or optional depending on trim level.

2021 Kia Seltos interior layout.
2021 Kia Seltos interior layout. Photo: Kia Motors America.

2021 Kia Seltos: Pricing & Trim Levels

The 2021 Kia Seltos arrives in five trim models. The base Seltos LX starts at $21,990 and comes with all-wheel-drive, an eight-inch touchscreen display, a rearview camera, USB ports, Bluetooth connectivity, and a rear-seat reminder.

The 2021 Seltos S starts at the same $21,990 base price, but it gets front-wheel-drive, fog lights, faux leather upholstery, heated outside mirrors, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. It also gets a plethora of standard driver aids, including automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, automatic high beams, lane departure warning, and lane-keeping assist, to name a few. Additionally, you can get all-wheel-drive and heated front seats for $1,500 more.

Next up the trim ladder is the Seltos EX starting at $25,290. It has all the amenities from the Seltos S but adds a sunroof, all-wheel-drive, wireless charging, push-button start, automatic climate control with rear air vents, a 10-way power driver’s seat, and synthetic leather seats. It also gets blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert adding to its list of active safety features.

With base prices starting at $25,490, the Seltos S Turbo gets all the goodies from the S trim along with the more potent 1.6-liter turbocharged engine. It also has 18-inch wheels, standard blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert.

Last but not least is Seltos SX starting at $27,890. It also gets the turbocharged engine and a set of exclusive features like a 10.25-inch touchscreen display, an eight-speaker Bose audio system with adaptive LED ambient lighting, LED headlights and fog lights, a seven-inch digital instrument cluster, and satellite radio. Added safety features include adaptive cruise control and a speed limit recognition system.

I’m not the biggest crossover fan to be quite honest. But similar to how Kia blew us away with the all-conquering Telluride SUV (and the new Stinger), the new Seltos is giving me second thoughts. Pending a proper test drive (attention Kia!), it’s safe to assume the Seltos is the most exciting (and off-road capable) compact SUV to arrive in a long while.

Alvin Reyes is the Associate Editor of Automoblog. He studied civil aviation, aeronautics, and accountancy in his younger years and is still very much smitten to his former Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music, and herbal medicine. 

2021 Kia Seltos Gallery

Photos & Source: Kia Motors America.