2021 Kia Seltos SX Turbo Ownership Review


The newest vehicle to join the Kelley Blue Book garage of long-term test vehicles is the 2021 Kia Seltos.

The Seltos itself is all new, debuting just last year as a 2021 model. The Seltos is a subcompact SUV that is a rival to vehicles such as the Honda HR-V, Subaru Crosstrek and Hyundai Kona.

This Kia quickly established itself as the leader of the pack thanks to its sleek design, greater-than-expected interior room, value, adventurous attitude and the fact that most models come standard with all-wheel drive.

We were so impressed with this all-new model that it won not only the 2021 Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Award among subcompact SUVs, but went on to be named Best New Model overall.

To say the Kia Seltos already made a great impression on the Kelley Blue Book editorial staff would be an understatement. Now we are eager to spend even more time in it. During our forthcoming year with the Seltos, we will get to know this small SUV in a big way. As with our other long-term test vehicles, we will drive, use and live with it just as we would a vehicle of our own. There’s a reason we call these “ownership reviews.”

Among our dozen-strong staff, I’m probably the most familiar with the 2021 Kia Seltos. I attended the media launch of this vehicle almost exactly a year ago in San Antonio, Texas, where it immediately struck me as a winner, and then did even more testing when a model arrived at our office last year.

Topline, turbocharged Seltos

There are several trims of the Seltos, starting just under $22,000 before destination price. One of the biggest choices you’ll make when buying one is whether to go with the standard 146-horsepower 4-cylinder 2.0-liter engine connected to a continuously variable automatic transmission, or a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder that makes 175 horsepower and uses a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic.

I’ve driven both and found each have merit. For this vehicle that I’ll be living with for the next 12 months, I opted for the turbo model. Moreover, I chose a loaded 2021 Seltos SX Turbo.

While I would likely have been perfectly content with a lower trim, I chose a top-line model because it has the most features, and my hope is that by sharing my experiences I can help the most people who might be thinking of buying a Kia Seltos.

Kia Seltos features and extras

In addition to the upgraded powertrain, this Seltos has goodies like a 10.25-inch display (vs. the standard 8-inch screen), automatic climate control, wireless phone charger, Bose premium audio system, navigation, upgraded leather-like Sofino upholstery, heated front seats and power-operated driver seat.

All but base Seltos models come standard with a slew of active safety features such as automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist and driver-attention monitor. This topline SX Turbo builds on that suite with blind-spot monitoring, and the SX Turbo exclusive features of adaptive cruise control and Highway Driving Assist, which can handle steering and help reduce driver fatigue.

I checked a few other options boxes, notably a sunroof for $700 and cool looking puddle lights for $275. Altogether, this loaded Kia Seltos stickers for $29,605 (destination is an additional $1,175).

Hello, yellow

One other thing to mention – the color. This vibrant yellow is the launch color and the one Kia often uses when showing the Seltos. While I wouldn’t normally pick a yellow car, I chose this for its recognizability. Officially it’s called Starbright Yellow, but I’ve already named this little guy Sunburst.

I look forward to sharing my adventures with Sunburst with you in the days ahead.