Crossover SUVs are currently fighting the battle for our hearts. The ever-growing segment is a powerful a vast one that has a tremendous value attached to whichever model can rise above the rest. The Mazda CX-30 has been a strong contender for a while, but the 2021 Kia Seltos has pulled ahead in three major ways.
The Mazda CX-30 is a strong contender but not off to a great start
Mazda is known for producing simple and friendly driver cars. The Mazda CX-30 continues that legacy. We have a real contender here, but it does come limping out of the gate with a higher starting price at $31,425 compared to the Kia Seltos’s starting price of $29,485.
The Mazda CX-30 and Kia Seltos both came to play
MotorTrend points out that although the Mazda CX-30 is a bit more cash, the interior shows the price increase. The Mazda interior is described as being uncluttered and made from high-quality materials, making it super comfy. The Kia Seltos’ interior doesn’t have quite the same shine. The seats are reported as being a little rubbery and just a half step down in material quality. That being said, The Kia Seltos’ interior is still nice and durable.
Ok, so both the Mazda and Kia are both feeling pretty good with where they stand. Yes, the Mazda CX-30 is a bit more expensive than the Kia Seltos, but it’s nicer on the inside. Tit for tat on that one, I’m afraid. But what about useable space?
No. 1: The Kia Seltos takes the lead on the interior space
Although the Kia Seltos’ interior doesn’t quite match the Mazda CX-30 on quality, it more than makes up for that in legroom. The Kia Seltos’ interior is not only laid out for the driver in a way that makes good logical sense; it also has significantly more room. The back seats are far more spacious than the Mazda CX-30’s rear seat. Even more to the point, the Mazda’s trunk is not much bigger than the trunk for the much smaller Mazda 3, whereas the Kia Seltos not only has more room in the back seats but did so without sacrificing the trunk space we expect from an SUV.
No. 2: Unlimited power!
Ok, I may be quoting Emperor Palpatine a little cheekily, but although the Kia Seltos doesn’t have higher power figures, the driving experience is pretty different. In fact, the 2021 Kia Sletos has less horsepower than the Mazda CX-30 but slightly higher torque. Even with the horsepower deficit, the Kia Seltos is still quicker in a 0-60 mph sprint by almost a second.
The fact that the Kia Seltos makes most of its torque so early in the RPMs is what helps little turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder get more out of its fewer horses than the Mazda’s superior stable.
No. 3: The Mazda CX-30 gearbox can’t hang with the Kia Seltos modern equipment
The torque is helpful, but the Kia Seltos also rips through its gears with speed and ease due to its seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. It may not seem like much, but there is a reason this type of transmission has become the style of transmission that most supercar makers prefer these days. The Mazda’s traditional six-speed automatic transmission is just slower and chunkier than the dual-clutch system.
The Mazda has a 2.5-liter engine – it’s not that it’s slow or anything – it’s just that the dated transmission makes that power harder to access with any efficiency. A writer at MotorTrend says, “This gearbox feels unrefined—like Mazda rushed it out and forgot to tune it properly. The tall gearing doesn’t help, either. I don’t know what they did to the 2.5, but it doesn’t feel as lively as it used to. It’s adequate for the average consumer, but it works hard when faced with hills.” All that to say, gearing and transmission matter. Without a fitting trans, an otherwise great engine can feel sloppy and underpowered.
The 2021 Kia Seltos is a clear winner
The 2021 Mazda CX-30 has plenty going for it. MotorTrend barely has anything bad to say about it at all. The Mazda CX-30 is a great set of wheels, but its greatness only really serves to shine a light on how great the Kia Seltos is. Kia is on a roll that doesn’t appear to be slowing anytime soon. Roll on, Kia.