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SOUL SISTER: 2021 KIA SELTOS 1.6T

As the industry continues to rapidly grow the demand for crossovers, Kia is tapping into a resource they’ve yet dipped their toes into. Slotting between the urban lifestyle of the Kia Soul and the family oriented Sportage, Kia’s original ute – the all-new Seltos combines a bit of both worlds with a mix of their largest Telluride crossover tied it all together.

Being the middle child, the Seltos has some mighty big shoes to fill and attention to draw if it wants to stand out above the rest. Luckily its brawny physique and rugged charisma is just the start to its leading charm. With its platform being based of the sub-compact Hyundai Kona, the Seltos sees a little more growth outward and upward expanding its dimension to a little more of the compact crossover range, versus the sub-compact category it was slotted for.

Performance slides into two variants with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine featured on the entry $21,990 L model and upwards to the mid-range $25,290 EX. However, considering the 146-horsepower of the three entry-level options, the peachy goodness of the 175-horsepower, 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine connected to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, is the preferred choice with it being available on the S Turbo starting at $25,490.

Quirky, yet impressive, the 1.6-turbo here is an absolute delight when it comes to presentation. The turbo kicks in at the low end of the rpms that gives it a quick boost from the start and holds its own as it narrows in on 6.5-seconds to 60 mph. Considering crossovers in its segment like the Jeep Compass and Mazda CX-30 taking the better part of eight seconds, the Seltos is quite spirited – and its not all just in the engine.

There is a happy-go-lucky persona to this Seltos. The electronically boosted steering is refine and accurate. It maneuvers well with responsive inputs and well-mannered body control. There is a level of confidence that follows its chassis and provides competence in its motions as well as smooth composure over patchy surfaces. Combined with its torque vectoring all-wheel drive there is a sense of nimbleness in its responses. And that’s before we get into the drive modes that can adjust the throttle and steering responsiveness between Sport, Normal and Smart.

In an odd assortment of manufacturing details, the Seltos comes standard with torque-vectoring all-wheel drive on all trims except for its mid-entry range S model which features front-wheel drive. This model thus leaves the buyer with the option to pay an extra $1500 for all-wheel drive. Keeping this strange train going, if all-wheel drive is desired then the $21,990 starting price of the entry-level LX certainly will be appealing; however, but must be willing to forgo all of the latest safety features that come standard on the next-in-line S model.

Nevertheless, the Seltos is designed to be a hardy, all-purpose crossover that can be whatever its owners crave it to be. With a burlier, adventuring lifestyle dealing, it carries itself with poise imposition. Set up in its most top trimmed gear, our SX Turbo equipped with 18-inch wheels had unique, stylish LED headlights that contoured its body and wrapped the face of its grille. Its rearward LED taillights featured attractive shaped lines that matched its chiseled jaw line. Our contrasting white body with black roof comes at a $345 option; however, opting for the two-tone color forgoes the $700 optional Sunroof Package.

Presenting an upscale presence, the interior is outfitted with nicely appointed fit and finish throughout. The seats are relatively supportive while the rear can accommodate passengers over six-feet tall moderately comfortably. The two-tier storage in the back maximizes trunk capacity and the rear seats can fold completely flat for more storage.

All Kia Seltos comes standard with an array of technology including a crisp 8-inch touch display compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and the latest in safety avoidance assist systems. The 10.3-inch widescreen display, similar to the screen used in the Telluride, is an SX exclusive extenuating intuitive functionality. Also limited to the SX model is the advance driver assist system that includes Highway Driving Assist that will adjust the adaptive cruise system based on the speed zone as well as Smart Cruise control with Stop and Go ability.

Stuck in the middle as the Soul sister, the Seltos fills in a tight niche gap that excels the compact-ute market. Being nearly good at everything a compact-ute should be there is a rewarding satisfaction behind Kia’s latest crossover in practicality and performance.

VEHICLE SPECIFICATIONS

Model: 2021 KIA SELTOS
Trim: SX TURBO AWD
Base Price: $21,990
Starting Trim Price: $27,890
As Tested: $29,485
Color: CLEAR WHITE / BLACK ROOF

PERFORMANCE SPECIFICATIONS

Engine: 1.6-LITER TURBOCHARGED FOUR-CYLINDER
Horsepower/Torque: 175-HORSEPOWER / 195 LB-FT TORQUE
Transmission: 7-SPEED DUAL-CLUTCH AUTOMATIC
Drivetrain: TORQUE VECTORING ALL-WHEEL DRIVE
Fuel Economy: EPA RATED: 25-CITY / 30-HWY / 27-COMBINED
AS TESTED: 27.7-MPG COMBINED / 30.2-MPG HIGHWAY (200-MILE TEST)
Fuel Range: 375 MILES
0-60 MPH: ±6.5 SECONDS

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