2021 Kia Seltos SX Turbo AWD Test Drive

“2021 Kia Seltos SX Turbo AWD”
Sized Right and Rugged


San Antonio, TX – The all-new 2121 Kia Seltos adds another dimension to Kia’s diverse SUV stable. It’s not the smallest SUV in the lineup, and it’s not the largest either – It is actually positioned neatly between the popular Soul and Sportage models and is a five door, five passenger small SUV or crossover. According to a Kia spokesperson the inspiration for the name comes from Greek mythology – Celtos, supposedly a son of Hercules. Kia changed the “C” to an “S” to tie in with Soul and Sportage with the “S” suggestive of speed.


There are six trim levels to choose from, with two engine choices, two transmission choices and the choice between FWD and AWD, all depending upon the trim level selected. In any case, the all- new Seltos, based closely on the Soul platform, has a great deal to offer, and promises to be a serious contender in what is one of the fastest growing industry segments.

Trim levels are as follows: : LX 2.0L AWD, S 2.0L FWD, S. 2.0L AWD, EX 2.0L AWD, S 1.6T AWD and SX 1.6T AWD. The 2.0-liter engines are naturally aspirated in-line 1,999 cc four-cylinders that generate 146 horsepower at 6,200 rpm along with 132 pound feet of torque at 4,500 rpm. The 1.6-liter 1,591 cc four bangers are turbocharged with gasoline direct injected engines (GDI) that deliver 175 horses at 6,000 rpm and 195 pound feet of torque in a range from 1,500 to 4,500 rpm.

Pricing starts at $21,990 plus destination for the LX AWD and S FWD and rises to $29,010 for the SX trim
The Seltos’s EX trim represents the best value, while the SX model comes loaded with nearly everything; The EX is well equipped, but considerably cheaper. All-wheel drive elevates the price of all four versions, but may not be needed depending on your planned use.


Although not a miniature Telluride, the design theme is really quite similar, blending with sophisticated details. Its stance is tall and upright. The tall front end and 7.2-inch ground clearance equate to a serious attitude with an adventurous spirit. Kia’s familiar tiger nose grille and aggressive persona leads off with diamond-like detail. Sculpted surfaces and well-executed lines lead to a distinctive profile highlighted by a chrome beltline (available on S, EX and SX) that blends into the D-pillar for an aerodynamic effect. And an optional two-tone roof gives Seltos an added appeal.

Other key design features include: a long wheelbase and hood, grille and headlamp design with full LED “Beat” lighting, a lower front bumper design that serves up a sharper approach angle for off-road sojourns, front and rear skid plates and black wheel arch cladding, Sleek and tapering greenhouse, red wheel center caps, tailgate garnish connecting rear lamps, sculpted dual exhaust outlets connected by chrome trim, and stylish 17-, and 18-inch alloy wheels.


Accommodations are both spacious and versatile. Seating for five is comfortable as well as supportive. Inside, there’s noticeably more space for passengers and cargo than found in the Kona and the materials used throughout the cabin are on a par with the brand’s bigger brother Telluride SUV. As in the Soul, interior ambient lighting is standard on the upscale SX trim level and can be set to pulse along with the beat of the music. Cargo space is adequate for a substantial amount of gear.

In terms of Infotainment and Connectivity, every Seltos model will have a touchscreen infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, but there’s a preferred optionally available 10.3-inch unit that comes with navigation and the ability to split the screen display for viewing the map and directions simultaneously, while making entertainment changes. The Seltos SX may also be equipped with a wireless smartphone-charging pad, up to three USB ports, a head-up display, and a 7.0-inch color display in the gauge cluster. A Bose audio system with eight-speakers is another option featuring fractal-textured speaker grilles.

All Seltos models will have a touchscreen infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, but the optional 10.3-inch unit is the one to get. It offers navigation and the capability to split the screen so you can view the map and directions at the same time you’re making changes to the radio station. Depending on which model you choose, the Seltos can also be equipped with a wireless smartphone-charging pad, up to three USB ports, a head-up display, and a 7.0-inch color display in the gauge cluster. An eight-speaker Bose audio system will also be optional and features fractal-textured speaker grilles. Seltos is equipped with the UVO Link telematics system introducing a number of innovative vehicle features.


Kia offers a comprehensive suite of driver assistance features on the Seltos, as an option. Key safety features include: available automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection; available blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert; and available lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist.


My test 2021 Kia Seltos came in the top level SX trim powered by the 1.6-liter turbocharged four-banger with Gasoline Direct Injection mated to the seven speed DCT automatic transmission in Kia’s Magna Dynamax Active On-Demand All-Wheel Drive system.

The exterior body paint finish was Starbright Yellow metallic capped by a black top, while the interior was executed in Black with seating in a combination of Premium Sofino Leatherette and cloth. The base sticker was set at $27,890., while the paint scheme, carpeted floor mats and inland freight and handling elevated the final count and amount to $29,485. A bargain considering the standard content level. The only options were: the two-tone paint treatment and carpeted floor mats.


The all-new Kia Seltos performs admirably on all levels. First off, it is visually appealing; next, it is exceptionally comfortable and versatile. While the base 2.0-liter engine connects to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), the 1.6-liter turbocharged engine in our test vehicle came with a seven-speed DCT automatic and AWD. The Seltos ride quality was firm but smooth and the handling characteristics delivered an exceptional agility for an SUV. The DCT transmission, while preferable to a CVT for most drivers, delivered an acceptable but not really well defined gear change transition at lower speeds.


Essentially, there is nothing about the 2021 Kia Seltos SX AWD to find fault with. It is a totally desirable small SUV that is superior to many of its competitors in every way. If you want more boldness push for the Kia Seltos X-Line Concept.

Kia’s warranty continues to be the best in the industry and offers a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain coverage on its models matched only by SUVs from its sister company Hyundai.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2021 Kia Seltos SX Turbo AWD

Base Price: $27,890.
Price as Tested: $29,485.

Engine Type and Size: 1.6-liter turbocharged GDI inline 1591 cc four-cylinder engine.

Horsepower (bhp): 175 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 195 @ 1,500-4,500 rpm

Transmission: Seven-speed DCT automatic.

Drive Train: Transversely mounted front engine / Magna Dynamax Active On-Demand AWD with torque vectoring.

Suspension: Front – MacPherson Strut with gas shock absorbers.
Rear – Multilink with gas shock absorbers.

Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs with ABS, ESC, HAC, DBC, TPMS and DAW.

Tires: Kumho Majesty 235/45 R 18 mounted on 5-grooved “Y”-spoke alloy wheels.

Wheelbase: 103.5 inches
Length Overall: 172.0 inches
Width: 70.9 inches
Height: 63.6 inches – W/O roof rails / 64.2” with.
Curb Weight: 3,317 lbs.
Turning Circle: 34.8 ft.
Approach Angle: 28.0 degrees
Departure Angle: 28.0 degrees
Min Ground Clearance: 7.2 inches
Fuel Capacity: 13.2 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 25 mpg city /30-mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: 0.33
0 – 60 mph: Not tested
# # #

More from Our Auto Expert