2021 Kia Seltos SX Turbo AWD: Massively Well-Equipped, Under $30K!

Kia has been killing it lately. The Telluride is just about our favorite new SUV on the market. I wrote about its quirks and features too, uhh…elsewhere. The trickle down effect means that just about all of Kia’s crossovers are pretty solid these days. Does that mean this brand new 2021 Kia Seltos is good as well?

2020 Kia Seltos SX

Overview

First of all, what is a Seltos you ask? Good question, apparently its name is derived from “Celtos”, the son of Hercules in Greek mythology. So its got that going for it. In all seriousness, kudos to Kia for creating real car names vs. an alpha-numeric soup of meaningless jargon.

The Seltos is a bit of an enigma in the small SUV segment. It’s on the borderline between compact and subcompact, but according to Kia has more passenger volume than the 2020 Toyota RAV4. So it’s clearly targeting one of the big sellers. It fits in the bottom 1/3 of the Kia crossover lineup just above the Soul and below the Sportage.

Kia’s making some good stuff.

Now let’s take look at the Seltos trim levels:

2021 Kia Seltos Trim Levels
2020 Kia Seltos SX

The base LX comes with a 2.0L 4-cylinder with 147 horsepower. Like a lot of press loaners, we got the top spec version, the SX Turbo. Like the name implies, both the S Turbo and SX Turbo get a 1.6L turbocharged 4-cylinder with 175 horsepower and 195 ft.-lbs. of torque. AWD is standard on all trim levels but the S. In our SX Turbo, you get a ton of other standard stuff like:

  • 18-inch Machined Alloy Wheels
  • LED Headlights and Fog Lights
  • Upgraded Grille with Integrated LED Light Bar
  • Sofino Seat Trim
  • Heated Front Seats
  • Power Driver’s Seat
  • Navigation with 10.25-inch Touch-Screen and UVO link
  • Bose® Premium Audio w/ Sound Connected Mood Lamp
  • Apple CarPlay® & Android Auto™ Smartphone Integration
  • Rear Camera with Dynamic Parking Guidance
  • Smart Key & Push Button Start, Remote Start on Key Fob
  • Wireless Phone Charger
  • Auto-Dimming Rearview Mirror
  • Blind-Spot Detection Technology
  • Blind-Spot Collision Avoidance Assist
  • Rear Cross-Traffic Alert & Avoidance
  • Auto Emergency Braking
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Lane Keeping Assist
  • Safe Exit Assist

That’s a lot of crap! And it comes at a massively reasonable price, just $27,890 for the SX Turbo. Kia has done a great job with packaging the Seltos; starting with the base model and ramping up to the SX Turbo, you get a lot standard. In fact, our test car had no options added other than the scorching Starbright Yellow paint for $345. That brings the as-tested price to under $30,000 including freight and handling fees!

2020 Kia Seltos SX

There isn’t much that you can add. Other than $700 “SX sunroof package” the rest of the options are basic things like upgraded floor mats and something called a “Lifestyle hitch”, which costs $300, and is probably like a regular hitch, but more active.

Exterior

So, I’ll start by saying that my wife absolutely hated the paint color. We moved into a rental house for the summer and she was mortified to have this crazy yellow Kia parked outside. Personally, I love that Kia is offering interesting colors. You can also get it some other cool colors like “Mars Orange”, “Neptune Blue” and “Dark Ocean Blue” which looks amazing with a white roof. Very cool.

2020 Kia Seltos SX

Overall the Seltos isn’t overly trendy looking and likely to be non-polarizing for most buyers. They have the Soul to take care of that! The Seltos looks pretty good from all angles and should do well in the segment.

2020 Kia Seltos SX

Interior

On the inside, you get the latest in Kia interior trim. Which it to say it’s quite good. Everything falls well to hand and the massive touchscreen is easy to use and configurable to show a variety of options. I’m a huge fan of having the option to see Apple CarPlay plus other items instead of just CarPlay.

2020 Kia Seltos SX

Take a look, it’s a damn good looking interior for sub-$30K.

The seats are comfortable and rear seat room more than adequate for the size. The rear hatch space is quite usable for a mask-covered run to the liquor store.

2020 Kia Seltos SX
I’ll take all of it.

My wife listed twelve specific wines, in case I had trouble finding something to buy. I got all twelve. Plus some beer. Plus some bourbon, and vodka, and tequila. Is this all over yet?

2020 Kia Seltos SX

Rugged’ness

Kia seems to think it is, or can be. I’ve done some soft-roading in similar vehicles, Kia’s included and they are pretty solid. The Seltos has a 7.3″ ground clearance, which is decent. They even produced a couple of cool looking concepts for the 2019 L.A. Auto Show.

X-Line Trail Attack Concept – features a two-inch lift kit, off-road tires, and a winch.
X-Line Urban Concept – two-inch lift kit, super cool wheels, and Hella auxiliary lights.

Summary

I know, I didn’t spend much time on the driving aspect of the Seltos; it drives like a compact crossover. I found the power to be more than adequate for day-to-day driving, not like you’ll be taking this to a track day or anything. The 7-speed DCT is just OK, it got a bit befuddled at what gear it thought I wanted. Again, not going to be a big issue for most buyers.

Considering the entry-level Toyota RAV4 starts at almost $26,000, and the base Ford Escape starts at near $25,000, the Seltos is a pretty impressive option at the moment. It’s attractive, massively well-equipped, and pretty practical. Add in that low MSRP and these should fly out of dealership lots.

Once everyone leaves their house again…

Bonus Pics