Crossover & Midsize

Kia Seltos: Everything You Need to Know About the Super Bowl Featured SUV

Kia has been a bit of roll recently. The Telluride has won Motor Trend’s SUV of the Year, and dealers are struggling to keep up with demand. And that’s not the only Kia SUV that’s been well-received. The updated Sportage has managed to redeem the failures of past models, and the Soul (which some consider more of a car) is maintaining its popularity. But there’s a new SUV/crossover on the horizon, the Kia Seltos. And to help launch it in the US, Kia partnered with NFL star Josh Jacobs on a special Super Bowl campaign.

Kia Seltos specs

2021 Kia Seltos
2021 Kia Seltos | Kia

The Kia Seltos is a subcompact SUV/crossover, and slots between the Soul and Sportage, according to Car and Driver. It will use the same platform as the Hyundai Kona, but allegedly offer more cargo and passenger room, as well as more standard equipment.

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Motor Trend reports that the Seltos will offer two engines. LX, S, and EX trims will get a 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 146 hp and 132 lb-ft, linked to a CVT. S and SX trims, though, will be able to select a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, making 175 hp and 195 lb-ft, with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. Front-wheel drive will be standard, with all-wheel drive optional on 2.0-liter models and standard on 1.6-liter ones. The Kia Seltos will also offer multiple driving modes: Normal, Eco, and Sport.

With FWD and the 2.0-liter, the Seltos is rated at 29 mpg city/34 mpg highway; adding AWD cuts that down to 27 mpg city/31 mpg highway. The 1.6-liter with AWD is rated at 25 mpg city/30 mpg highway.

2021 Kia Seltos interior
2021 Kia Seltos interior | Kia

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay will be standard on all trims. An 8” touchscreen and rear camera are standard, but higher-level trims get features like wireless phone charging and heated front seats. The top SX Turbo trim also gets a larger 10.25” touchscreen and Bose speakers.

However, the LX trim doesn’t get Kia’s safety feature suite, which features front and rear collision emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and rear cross-traffic detection. That requires picking at least the S trim, which actually has the same $21,990 starting price. The difference is the LX trades some features for AWD, while the S is FWD, with AWD (with heated front seats included) a $1500 option.

How the Seltos stacks up

2019 Honda HR-V Sport
2019 Honda HR-V Sport | Honda

The Kia Seltos will compete against other subcompact SUVs/crossovers, like the Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V, and Toyota C-HR. It will also have to compete with its Hyundai platform-mate like the Telluride does with the Palisade.

2019 Hyundai Kona
2019 Hyundai Kona | Hyundai

MT claims the increase in the Seltos’ interior room over the Kona will come from a longer wheelbase. And looking at the official specs, the Seltos is both longer overall and does indeed have a longer wheelbase. In terms of exterior size, the Seltos is also bigger than the CX-3 and HR-V and matches the C-HR.

2019 Mazda CX-3
2019 Mazda CX-3 | Mazda

Car and Driver ranked the Toyota C-HR significantly below the CX-3, HR-V, and Kona. The C-HR also doesn’t offer AWD at all and is slightly more expensive. The CR-V is slightly less expensive than the Seltos, but the non-turbo Seltos is slightly more fuel-efficient. And while the CX-3 is smaller, its engine is more powerful, and just as fuel-efficient.

2018 Toyota C-HR
2018 Toyota C-HR | Toyota

A direct comparison will have to wait until the Seltos officially goes on sale. Nevertheless, Kia’s subcompact SUV should be able to give a competitive performance. Which, as many like to repeat, is quite the change from the brand’s early days. Perhaps that’s why Kia chose Josh Jacobs to appear in its Super Bowl ad.

Because, in a way, as Roadshow described, Kia’s rise from humble beginnings mirrors Jacobs’.

Why Kia’s Super Bowl commercial is special

Josh Jacobs currently plays for the Las Vegas Raiders. But when he was young, he and his dad were homeless. As Josh himself describes it, “There were a lot of nights where I didn’t know what I was going to eat or where I was going to be sleeping that night.” They almost literally lived on the streets of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The only shelter the Jacobs family had at night was their vehicle. But Josh used his situation to drive himself forward.

And now, he and Kia want to give back. To help the US’ estimated 4.2 million young homeless people, Kia will use its Super Bowl ad not only to promote the Seltos but to launch its “Yards Against Homelessness” initiative. For every yard gained during the game, Kia will donate $1000 to 3 charities: Covenant House, Positive Tomorrows and StandUp For Kids.

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