2021 Kia Seltos first drive: The hits keep coming

    Stylish, roomy and unexpectedly premium, the brand new Kia Seltos is indisputably glorious. This small crossover is the newest in a protracted sequence of hits from the South Korean automaker, a conga line of automobiles that features fashions just like the Soul, the Stinger and, most lately, the Telluride three-row SUV.Putting the screws to rivals just like the Ford EcoSport, Honda HR-V, Nissan Kicks and Toyota C-HR, the Seltos is a small crossover designed to squeeze between the funky-looking Soul hatchback and barely bigger Sportage utility car.Setting this Kia other than these fashions and its main rivals, the Seltos is meant to be one thing of an off-roader. Obviously, it is no Jeep Wrangler, however there’s some precise substance beneath that powerful styling, a little bit of steak to go along with the sizzle. Ground clearance measures 7.3 inches, the identical quantity you get in a Honda Pilot. This car’s method and departure angles every clock in at 28 levels, making it moderately helpful off highway. Finally, a nifty all-wheel-drive system with a locking heart differential is obtainable in sure trim ranges, which might evenly break up torque between the entrance and rear axles for enhanced traction in slippery, sloppy or in any other case extreme situations. What’s not so cool are the entrance and rear “skid plates.” They might look to supply some helpful safety, however they’re nothing however flimsy plastic.

    The Seltos is out there in 5 completely different grades. Serving base obligation is the moderately priced LX model; stepping up from there you may get an ES mannequin, an S 2.0, S 1.6T or the range-topping SX, which is what I’m testing right here. As for pricing, this car kicks off at $23,110 together with vacation spot fees, that are $1,120.
    Kia is killing it with interiors lately, and the Seltos’ cabin is one other instance of that nice work. Yes, practically every part inside is product of exhausting plastic, however nothing is blatantly low cost. The buttons and switches really feel good, there are many attention-grabbing textures and construct high quality is great. Nearly all Seltos fashions include a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, although EX and SX variations additionally characteristic a wi-fi charging pad, leatherette seating surfaces and push-button begin.

    An eight-speaker Bose audio system is normal on top-shelf SX fashions, ditto for a 10.25-inch, high-resolution touchscreen. All different variations of the Seltos include an 8-inch show, although regardless of the mannequin, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included.

    The Seltos has a wheelbase of 103.5 inches and an total size of 172 inches. That makes it about the identical dimension as a Honda HR-V or Nissan Kicks. These dimensions present beneficiant inside house. With the rear seats up, you get simply shy 27 cubic toes of junk-hauling capability; fold ’em down and that determine grows to almost 63 cubic toes, which is nearly as a lot as in a Chevy Equinox.As with the cargo maintain, this car’s again seat is large, with loads of room for legs and heads. Front or rear, 6-foot-tall of us shouldn’t have any bother becoming within the Seltos.The Seltos is a flexible hauler.
    Craig Cole/Roadshow
    By now chances are you’ll be asking your self, “What does Seltos mean?” Kia says it is named after Celtus, the son of Heracles in Greek mythology. But there’s nothing valiant about what’s below this crossover’s hood. The base engine is a naturally aspirated, 2.0-liter four-cylinder, good for a comparatively dismal 146 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque, matched with a constantly variable transmission. What you will really need is the up-level, 1.6-liter turbo. This force-fed dynamo delivers a extra livable 175 hp, however extra importantly, torque tops out at 195 lb-ft. Making essentially the most of that output is a seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission.The Seltos’ base engine will be had with both front- or all-wheel drive, however the 1.6T solely comes with AWD. Models so geared up ought to return 25 miles per gallon round city, 30 on the freeway and 27 mpg mixed. Naturally, with out the turbocharged engine or all-wheel drive, different variations of the Seltos are barely extra environment friendly.The Seltos is as quiet and easy as anything within the phase, however the powertrain may very well be improved. The Seltos can really feel gutless in sure driving conditions due to an engine that does not come alive till the center of its rev vary and a transmission that is at all times a few gears too excessive. This mixture can severely hamper low-speed drivability. When you are taking off from a standstill it is a bit comfortable, however even as soon as the car is transferring it feels pokey. The engine does not have sufficient off-idle torque to get issues transferring and the gearbox is reluctant to downshift.  This is the up-level engine, which is nice for 175 horsepower.
    Craig Cole/Roadshow
    Fortunately, there’s a straightforward resolution to this torpid efficiency: placing the Seltos in sport mode. Not solely does this tighten up the steering really feel, it additionally retains the transmission from going upshift-crazy, which makes this car rather more fulfilling to drive. The trade-off, after all, is probably going barely lowered gasoline economic system, nevertheless it’s effectively price it in my guide.That seven-speed transmission shifts rapidly and is generally easy, nevertheless it’s nonetheless not as nice as a standard torque-converter automated. Sometimes there is a faint juddering sensation when taking off from a cease and it feels sluggish when going from drive to reverse or vice versa. Aside from the gearbox, I’ve one different minor quibble about how this car drives. The brake pedal is just too sensitive, leading to full-on panic stops whenever you simply wished to decelerate for a residential pace bump. A small quantity of strain goes a great distance on this Kia.In order to maintain up with rivals, new autos as we speak are virtually required to have a variety of superior security applied sciences, and the Seltos isn’t any exception. The Kia Drive Wise suite contains issues like lane-departure warning, automated excessive beams and lane-keeping help. These options are normal on all fashions, save essentially the most fundamental LX trim. Beyond that stuff, you can even get blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance help and even adaptive cruise management with stop-and-go functionality.The 2021 Seltos is a superb addition to Kia’s utility car lineup. Even the totally loaded SX mannequin looks like worth, trying out for $29,485, together with vacation spot. The Seltos is trendy, with a high-quality and spacious inside, plus it provides loads of expertise. Aside from its sometimes-recalcitrant transmission and brake pedal that is a bit too delicate, it is comparatively simple to suggest. Front or rear, the Seltos is a classy small crossover.
    Craig Cole/Roadshow

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