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When thinking of a Kia SUV, you might envision the Telluride, the brand’s most popular vehicle. But its smaller crossovers — the Seltos, Soul, and Sportage — also offer plenty. So, which of the three is the best? Let’s look at each model’s road-test performance, safety, and reliability. 

2021 Kia Seltos

Consumer Reports gives the 2021 Kia Seltos an overall score of 63 out of 100. As for road test performance, this small SUV rates well in fuel economy at 28 mpg combined. However, acceleration is lackluster. In the 0-to-60-mph run, the Seltos managed 9.0 seconds. 

And its reliability is average, scoring 3 out of 5. Consumer Reports doesn’t have any data about trouble spots, but it shows a recall regarding engines that could stall and cause accidents. However, it got high marks in braking performance. The Seltos can fully stop from 60 mph in 128 feet on dry pavement and 133 on wet surfaces. 

This crossover SUV’s standard safety equipment includes stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes, and a rearview camera. Other features, such as lane departure warning, blind-spot warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, and forward-collision warning, are optional items Kia offers with its affordable vehicles

2021 Kia Soul

Alas, the 2021 Kia Soul disappoints Consumer Reports, hence the overall score of 48. Though Kia made a few improvements to this model year, including better fuel economy, which is now 28 mpg combined, there aren’t many changes to turn heads aside from its unique design. In fact, the previous problems, like stiff ride and jittery suspension, persist. Acceleration is better than the Seltos, but only by 0.2 seconds. 

Predicted reliability falls flat, too. CR gives it a score of 1 out of 5. Over the years, this Kia subcompact crossover had issues with the engine, transmission, electrical system, and power equipment. Kia recently issued a safety recall for an engine problem, as it did with the Seltos.

As for safety, the Soul comes with the same equipment as the Seltos. Optional features are also the same for both. The only difference between the two is the Soul doesn’t offer daytime running lights as the Seltos does. 

2021 Kia Sportage


The 2020 Kia Soul Has the Worst Reliability, but Owners Still Like It

The Sportage is supposed to be Kia’s sporty compact crossover. Though it handles decently, and the suspension seems to perform as it should, its sportiness is minimal. Consumer Reports thinks the ride is good but a bit stiff at times. 

But its acceleration is much better than the Seltos and Soul. It can zip from 6 to 60 mph in 7.0 seconds. And it stays in control when taking turns and curves.

Reliability is an area where the Sportage shines. CR gives it a perfect 5 of 5. This Kia SUV has had some issues over the years, but most have been minor or were resolved quickly. 

Safety equipment is another spot where the Sportage shines. Standard features are numerous. They include forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, pedestrian detection, rearview camera, and antilock brakes. Blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert are the only optional equipment Consumer Reports lists. 

Thanks to all of the above, the Sportage earns an impressive overall CR score of 81 out of 100.

The winner is clear

Kia builds solid vehicles, but one clear winner out stands out of these three small SUVs. The 2021 Soul and Seltos don’t offer much in the way of safety features or reliability.

If you’re looking to purchase a small Kia SUV, consider the Sportage. You’ll get a reliable vehicle with plenty of standard safety features at an affordable price