Crossover & Midsize

If You Need a Performance SUV Don’t Buy the Kia Seltos

Kia is a Korean automaker that’s making some big waves in the auto world. It makes high-quality vehicles and sells them for much lower prices than most of the competition. From the Soul to the Telluride, there’s something for everyone.

The Kia Seltos is a new addition to Kia’s SUV lineup, and it’s already turning heads. Car and Driver reports that the Seltos is not a performance SUV but still manages to impress in spite of this. Here’s what we learned about Kia’s new compact SUV.

2021 Kia Seltos specs

Kia didn’t exactly go all out on the new Seltos, but there are a lot of enticing features that drivers won’t be able to get at that price point from the competition. The standard Seltos comes with a 146-hp 2.0-liter engine. It’s paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission that can keep up with competitors such as the Nissan Rogue. 

All models of the Seltos come with all-wheel drive except the LX and S trim. Drivers can upgrade to AWD for $1,500 if they go with the S trim. The engine can be loud unless drivers choose to go with the SX trim.

This trim gets a significant upgrade with a 175-hp turbocharged engine. It’s paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The engine is much less noisy, except when accelerating.

The interior is very comfortable, and the 8-inch infotainment system is easy to use. Drivers have the choice of upgrading to a 10.3-inch touchscreen if they want something bigger. There are also a lot of safety features that will soothe even the most worrisome of drivers.

Why the Kia Seltos isn’t considered a performance SUV

According to Autobytel, “Today’s performance SUV – mostly found in the luxury category – accelerates like a cheetah, handles turns like a jackrabbit, climbs rocks like a mountain goat and coddles passengers like a mother hen.” While the Seltos is a great SUV, it doesn’t quite meet all these criteria.

While it can easily reach speeds of 50-70 mph in a mere 5.0 seconds, that’s still considered slow compared to some performance SUVs. The Seltos may manage to beat out some of its competition, but it’s too slow to keep up with a true performance SUV. 

Another factor that prevents the Seltos from earning that coveted title is the fact that it isn’t that great of an off-road vehicle. The Fast Lane took it through a wildlife park and decided that the Seltos was ‘dirt road and mud worthy,’ but not worthy of serious off-roading. As it turns out, the Seltos will also stand up to Ostrich attacks, but not without a few scratches.

While the Seltos can handle some mild off-road situations, drivers won’t be climbing boulders or crossing deserts in it anytime soon. The dual-clutch transmission simply isn’t made for that kind of wear and tear. There’s still hope, however. Kia is working on an off-road Seltos model that may come out in the future. It’s still in the concept phase, but if the version that hits sales floors is anything like the one The Fast Lane test-drove, drivers are in for a real treat. 

Why the Seltos is still worth considering even if it’s not a performance SUV

The Kia Seltos may not be a performance vehicle, but it’s impossible to beat the price. The lowest trim level, the LX, starts at $23,110. The highest trim level, the SX Turbo, costs around $29,485. For drivers on a budget, this is a very affordable SUV that’s within the reach of a large portion of drivers. 

It also offers a surprising amount of choices with five trim levels. There’s the LX, S, EX, S Turbo, and the SX Turbo. Drivers who are drawn in by the Seltos’ rugged good looks will be able to choose exactly what it is they want.

Finally, not everyone is interested in a performance SUV. Going off-road has a strong following, but not everyone thinks that driving over rivers and streams is the epitome of fun. For consumers who just want a dependable vehicle that’s comfortable and gets them to their destination and back will be more than happy with the Kia Seltos.