Skip to main content

The 2021 Kia Seltos is supposed to be a cooler alternative to the Kia Soul. It has a more rugged and less boxy design, which is feeling a little dated for the Soul. But if the base model doesn’t have enough muscle for you, you can upgrade the Kia Seltos S Turbo for more muscle and at a higher price. 

Is the 2021 Kia Seltos S Turbo worth it? 

Maybe. The 2021 Kia Seltos base model has an MSRP of about $21,990. If you upgrade to the S Turbo AWD, you’ll spend about an extra two grand. It has an MSRP of about $25,590. The S is the first trim above the base model trim, which is the LX. 

With the LX trim, you get all-wheel-drive and a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 146-hp and 132 lb-ft of torque. That’s not a lot of muscle. Car Indigo reports that the Seltos can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about 7.3 seconds, which is pretty average. 

Kia Seltos Off-roading in rugged terrain
2021 Kia Seltos | Kia

With the S trim, you still get all-wheel-drive and the 2.0-liter engine. You have to upgrade to the turbo engine, which is a 1.6-liter turbocharged option that provides 175 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. This sounds like a significant increase in power, but we failed to find faster track times for the model S specifically. 

The Kia Seltos SX Turbo achieved an acceleration time of 6.6 seconds, but that’s the highest trim level. It has the same engine as the S Turbo, so that’s a good sign. However, according to Car and Driver, the Ford Escape and Mazda CX-5 are noticeably faster. 

Kia Seltos S features 

According to The Car Connection, the Kia Seltos S is the only trim option that doesn’t include all-wheel-drive. With Front-wheel-drive and the standard engine, you can get it for about $23,000. So, upgrading to the turbo and adding AWD tacks on another $2,000. 

The S trim comes with the same entertainment features as the LX. Both trims have the same convenience features as well. The Kia Seltos S doesn’t come with remote engine start, which was found to be frustrating by The Car Connection team. 

Also, the S trim has an LED lightbar, roof rails, LED turn signals, and heated exterior mirrors. It also comes in five extra color options. So the differences seem to be primarily exterior. However, you can’t get the base model with the turbo engine. 

What comes standard with the Seltos? 

If you stick with the base model 2021 Kia Seltos, you get tons of value, including all-wheel-drive. But it doesn’t come with very many standard safety features. One reason to upgrade to the S trim includes gaining safety features such as adaptive cruise control, lane-centering assistance, automated emergency braking, and more. 

The Kia Seltos comes with an 8-inch infotainment center that can be upgraded to a larger 10.3-inch. Plus, it offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There is an abundance of USB ports as well. 

2021 Kia Seltos driving on highway
2021 Kia Seltos | Kia

The Kia Seltos Struggles While Off-Roading

For convenience features such as the wireless phone charger, navigation, and remote start, you’ll have to upgrade to the Kia Seltos SX model, which has an MSRP of about $27,890. It’s extra features, and luxurious cabin makes it a better deal. 

Upgrading to the S trim doesn’t get you much unless you opt for the turbo engine, which is still pretty sluggish. Also, the S trim still has the use of cheap plastics and hard materials that impact comfort.