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Just because subcompact SUVs are small doesn’t mean they can’t do big things. For example, the 2021 Hyundai Kona just managed to outrank the 2021 Kia Seltos on the list of best SUVs. Let’s see how the Hyundai Kona managed to take the Kia Seltos down. 

2021 Hyundai Kona vs. 2021 Kia Seltos 

2021 Hyundai Kona | Hyundai

According to Car and Driver, the 2021 Hyundai Kona is better than the 2021 Kia Seltos. This feels like an underdog story because the Hyundai Kona isn’t in the news nearly as much as the new Kia Seltos is. 

Anyways, they ranked every subcompact SUV on a list from worst to best. The Ford EcoSport came in last, at 19th place, and the 2021 Mazda CX-30 came in first place. But more on those later. The Kia Seltos landed in 4th place, and the Hyundai Kona came in 2nd place.

You can get started in a new Hyundai Kona for about $20,500, and the Kia Seltos begins at around $21,990. So, the Kona does have an advantage by being about $1,500 cheaper. However, these prices are the MSRPs and are listed before dealership markups and destination fees have been added. 

Does the Kona perform better than the Seltos? 

With the 2021 Hyundai Kona, you get a standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque. You can upgrade to the 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine for 175 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. 

The Kona can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about 7.2 seconds with the turbocharged engine, which is very quick for the class. 

With the 2021 Kia Seltos, the base engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 146 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque. You can opt for the 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine for 175 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. The Seltos can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about 8.1 seconds. They actually have the same engines, but the Kona is a little faster.

Both of these SUVs offer all-wheel drive. But AWD comes standard with the turbo engine in the Kia Seltos, which is a nice perk. The Seltos sits about an inch taller than the Kona and is slightly better equipped for off-roading. 

The Hyundai Kona may offer more responsive handling and a sportier ride than the Kia Seltos. Both options have a bit of a bumpy ride and a little road noise in the cabin. However, Edmunds noted that the Kona is quieter than rivals. 

Does the Seltos or Kona have better features? 

Starbright Yellow 2022 Kia Seltos with mountains in the background
Starbright Yellow 2022 Kia Seltos | Kia

The 2021 Mazda CX-30 Fails to Beat the Hyundai Kona

The 2021 Kia Seltos provides 26.6 cubic feet of cargo space and 62.8 cubes total. It’s larger than the 2021 Hyundai Kona, which offers 19.2 cubic feet behind the second row with up to 45.8 cubes. 

A 7.0-inch infotainment screen comes with the Kona, but you can upgrade to an 8.0-inch unit. The Seltos comes with an 8.0-inch screen that can be upsized to a 10.3-inch unit. Both SUVs have standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

The Kona comes with standard automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assist. It’s also a Top Safety Pick+. These features are available with the Seltos, and it has a four-star safety rating. 

So, it seems like the Hyundai Kona is ranked ahead because it offers a better daily driving experience and has more standard features. But the Kia Seltos provides more space and has a higher ground clearance.