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Give it up for the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek. It just took down the 2021 Kia Seltos. It’s no easy task for vehicles to beat the new options on the block, so the Subaru Crosstrek must have a few secrets up its sleeves. 

2021 Subaru Crosstrek vs. 2021 Kia Seltos 

2021 Subaru Crosstrek | Subaru

According to MotorTrend, the best subcompact SUV for 2021 is the Subaru Crosstrek. It outranks the 2021 Kia Seltos, which landed in third place. The Kia Soul is second, but the Seltos is an off-roader like the Crosstrek, so it’s fairer to compare those two SUVs. 

The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek ranks highly from being comfortable, practical, and rugged. It has an excellent fuel economy and ground clearance for off-roading, and it now has a more powerful engine option available. 

The Kia Seltos ranks well for being fun to drive, with a spacious and versatile interior. It has a powerful engine and comes with tons of standard features, but the material quality could be improved. 

How do the Crosstrek and Selto perform? 

The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek has a 2.9-liter four-cylinder base engine with 152 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque. You can upgrade to the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine for 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque. It can tow up to 1,500 lbs and accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds. 

With the 2021 Kia Seltos, the base engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder option with 146 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque. You can upgrade to the 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with 175 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. It can tow up to 2,000 lbs and accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds. 

The Crosstrek gets an EPA-estimated 28 mpg in the city and up to 33 mpg on the highway. The Seltos is a little more fuel-efficient with an EPA-estimated 29 mpg in the city and up to 34 mpg on the highway. 

Both of these SUVs come with standard all-wheel drive. The Crosstrek has an 8.7-inch ground clearance, and the Seltos sits at 7.3-inches. The Crosstrek is the better off-roader with its X-Mode system that includes driving modes for Snow and Dirt. 

The Seltos provides a bit of a sportier ride because body roll can be noticeable in the Crosstrek, and the handling is a little bland. But the Crosstrek offers a quieter interior with more supportive seats. 

Does the Seltos or Crosstrek have better features? 

A 2022 Kia Seltos driving on a dirt road
2022 Kia Seltos | Kia

You can get started in a 2021 Subaru Crosstrek for about $22,245. The 2021 Kia Seltos begins at around $21,990. The Crosstrek offers 20.8 cubic feet of cargo space in the rear with 55.3 cubes total. The Seltos provides 22.6 cubic feet of cargo space in the rear with up to 62.8 cubic feet total. 

The Kia Seltos comes with a 10.3-inch infotainment system in all models except for the base model. The Crosstrek has a 6.5-inch touchscreen that can be upgraded to an 8.0-inch unit. Both SUVs come with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

Standard safety features with the Seltos include automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, and lane-keeping assistance. These features are available with the Subaru Crosstrek. 

Both of these SUVs seem pretty evenly matched. We think the Crosstrek took the top spot for having slightly nice interior materials and more off-roading capabilities. But the Seltos still provides light off-roading capabilities and a comfortable, sporty ride. We recommend testing them both.


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