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2021 Kia Seltos Pros vs Cons

Why Buy a 2021 Kia Seltos?
Reviewed & fact checked by
James MurdochNorman Ruckpaul

Are You Considering a 2021 Kia Seltos? Here Are Some Reasons For and Against

The 2021 Kia Seltos is primed to hit the ground running. This relatively rugged two-row model will be intriguing to many people, and it is one of the newest additions to Kia's lineup of SUVs. There are five trims of the Kia Seltos, starting with the LX and S. The EX, S Turbo, and SX Turbo are the other trims that may appeal to those with a little extra money to spend and some higher expectations.

What's New for 2021?

The Kia Seltos is brand new for 2021, though it shares a platform as the Hyundai Kona. In comparison to the Kona, it's a bit taller and roomier. Larger than the Kia Soul but smaller than the Kia Sportage and Niro, the Seltos has a somewhat compact frame that many customers are looking for.

Ten Reasons You May Like the 2021 Kia Seltos – The Pros

1. Attractive Starting Price

The reality of the situation is that price is a major factor when it comes to buying a new car. What the Kia Seltos has working for it is its comparatively low cost. The LX and S are priced under $22,000, and this should attract a lot of attention from budget-minded consumers. The mid-level EX is priced around $25,000, as is the S Turbo. With the most amenities that the Seltos has to offer, the SX Turbo sits at the top of the lineup with a reasonable price that's a little less than $28,000.

2. Plenty of Storage Room

Though it does look like a compact SUV, the Seltos has a lot of cargo capacity. Some may be surprised to learn that the SUV has a maximum cargo volume of 62.8 cubic feet when the rear seats are lowered. When those seatbacks are in place, there's still 26.6 cubic feet of space in the back. This makes the Seltos very practical for those who are often packing up their vehicles with groceries, luggage, sports equipment, or anything else, and it puts the vehicle ahead of many others in its class.

3. Two-Tone Look

Style is a major selling point with the 2021 Kia Seltos. Enhancing its slightly edgy feel is an available two-tone color scheme. Sure, there are other vehicles that offer this, too, but this option is usually limited to the more premium trims. What's notable is that the Seltos has an available two-tone design on the S, S Turbo, and SX Turbo trims. Color pairings include black/white, gold/black, white/blue, and blue/black.

4. Comfort for Back-Seat Passengers

With some two-row SUVs, it can be a stretch to fit five people in the cabin even though there are five seating positions. The good thing is that this isn't the case with the Kia Seltos. There is 38 inches of leg room in the second row, and this almost matches the 41.4 inches of leg room in the front. Children and adults will be happy riding in the back, even if there are three of them in the row.

5. Available All-Wheel Drive

This SUV can be equipped with all-wheel drive to provide more traction when needed. In fact, four of the trims have AWD as a standard component. (The only trim to have it as only an available feature is the S.) The full-time AWD system uses sensors to determine when the roads are slippery. If there is any change in how the wheels can grip the roads, power delivery will be adjusted accordingly. In very difficult conditions, drivers can lock AWD into place to give themselves more traction at low speeds.

6. Two Engine Options

The LX, S, and EX trims use 2.0-liter engines, and the S Turbo and SX Turbo versions use 1.6-liter turbocharged engines. Both types have four cylinders and an in-line design. The 2.0-liter engine can generate 146 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. It uses multi-port gasoline injection as its fuel delivery system. In contrast, the turbo engines have direct injection and can provide drivers with 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque.

Another related difference is in terms of the transmission. The non-turbo engine uses an intelligent variable transmission that makes driving smooth and easy. A seven-speed quick-shift automatic transmission has been paired up with the turbo engine, and it gives the SUV some more spirit.

7. Fuel Efficient

The 2021 Kia Seltos can travel approximately 30 miles on a gallon of fuel. More specifically, the front-wheel-drive S trim gets an estimated 29/34/31 (city/highway/combined) miles per gallon. The all-wheel-drive LX, S, and EX are estimated to get 27/31/29 miles per gallon, and the numbers drop slightly to 25/30/27 miles per gallon in the turbo models.

For a vehicle that's not a hybrid, it's a good achievement to cross the measure of 30 miles per gallon. Helping the Seltos along is the idle stop-and-go function, which temporarily turns off the engine when it's stopped at a light or in traffic. Also, there is an Eco drive mode that can optimize efficiency even further. Since its gas tank can hold 13.2 gallons, the Seltos can go quite far before having to stop for a fill-up.

8. Smart Safety Features

There are many driver-assist technologies that can be found on the 2021 Kia Seltos. The S, EX, S Turbo, and SX Turbo all come with high beams that can turn themselves on and off depending on the lighting conditions, automated emergency braking that can work to prevent frontal collisions with vehicles or pedestrians, and a warning system that can notify drivers when their attention needs refocusing. There is also a system that can warn someone when they're swaying out of a lane; a complementary feature can actually correct steering when appropriate.

The top three trims have more safety features, to include blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic monitoring. The SX Turbo has Highway Driving Assist and Smart Cruise Control, both of which allow the Seltos to independently adjust its speed in order to stay safe.

9. Modern Technology

Kia has hit it out the park with the infotainment system on the Seltos. The SUV starts out with an eight-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, smartphone compatibility, and voice recognition. This all makes it easy to stay in touch with contacts and have access to favorite songs. On the SX Turbo, the screen measures 10.25 inches, and the technology package comes with navigation, remote connectivity, and satellite radio to broaden the entertainment options. Wireless charging is included on the EX and SX Turbo, as is a rear charging port.

10. A Fresh Style

The Seltos feels just as modern as one would expect from a brand-new vehicle. Standard on the Kia are a bold front grille that's all black, a rear spoiler, privacy glass in the back, and 17-inch wheels. Some upgrades found in select trims include 18-inch wheels, chrome exterior accents, a power sunroof, roof rails, and LEDs in the taillights, fog lights, and daytime running lights. Inside the cabin, some trims have blue stitching on their seats to make them more unique. LED interior lighting is available as well.

Reasons You May Not Like the 2021 Kia Seltos – The Cons

1. Could Use More Horsepower

Even if the turbo engine is under the hood, the Seltos's performance is lackluster. It just doesn't have the power that many drivers crave, and this is likely to be a limiting factor that affects how well the SUV will do in the market. Many drivers will be looking exclusively for vehicles with more than 200 horsepower.

2. Cabin Feels Basic

There are a few things to note about the cabin. First, full leather isn't available, nor are front ventilated seats or dual-zone climate control. Kia does make a seat trim made out of Sofino, which is a synthetic leather. However, some people will miss the real thing. Also, a power-adjustable driver's seat is only available on the EX and the SX Turbo.

3. Base Model Needs More Safety Components

As previously mentioned, the LX is the only Seltos trim that doesn't have driver-assist systems. This is a major downfall that people will notice, especially when several other vehicles have those technologies as standard components. Having multiple monitors in place gives people peace of mind. Some customers might not want to miss out on these types of back-up systems.

How It Stacks Up to the Competition:

2021 Kia Seltos vs 2021 Chevrolet Trax

The Trax and the Seltos may look similar from the outside, but the Seltos has almost 15 more cubic feet of cargo space than its counterpart. It's not like the Seltos is large by any stretch, but this size differential is enough to drive people towards the Kia. Further, out of these two vehicles, the Kia has more horsepower, better gas mileage, more second-row leg room, and a larger touchscreen.

2021 Kia Seltos vs 2021 Subaru Crosstrek

The Kia's comparison to the Subaru Crosstrek is a fair one since both have a similar body shape and sporty style. Though it comes pretty close, the Crosstrek doesn't match up to the Seltos in the efficiency department, and over time, this could translate into a lot of extra money spent at the gas station. Like the Chevy Trax, the Subaru Crosstrek has less second-row leg room than the Seltos has. It has less overall cargo space as well.


For those customers in the market for a compact or subcompact SUV, the 2021 Kia Seltos would be an excellent choice. It's practical in many ways, as it has a roomy interior, available all-wheel drive, a versatile seating area, and many convenient technological components. Given its competitive pricing structure, the Seltos is likely to stand out in a crowded field of SUVs. These days, it seems like more and more people are flocking to brands like Kia because of the great value they offer, and the new Seltos has a winning formula.

Used 2021 Kia Seltos: