The 2021 Kia Seltos SX Turbo Struggles With Its Transmission

There are plenty of great things to say about the 2021 Kia Seltos. But it also has a few interesting things that need to be addressed. The Kia Seltos SX Turbo is the top-of-the-line option with a great price, but it may not be as sporty as you think. 

The 2021 Kia Seltos SX Turbo is laggy

According to Prime Autotainment, the 2021 Kia Seltos is an excellent, affordable option. It gives you a lot for the price of about $28,235. This provides a pretty good deal compared to rival compact SUVs. 

But we will jump right into the issues first. All-wheel drive comes standard on each trim. That’s pretty exciting if you live in an area that’s prone to inclement weather because you’ll be able to handle snow. Also, it’s good for those who want to do light off-roading.  

A gold 2021 Kia Seltos small SUV driving down a city road
The 2021 Kia Seltos in action | Kia

But it’s expensive. It’s a little unfair to those in warmer states that don’t want or need AWD. Plus, AWD makes the vehicle heavier, can slow it down a little, and may drag the fuel economy down a little bit. 

There are two engine options. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine provides 146 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque. That’s not exactly fast or exciting. But the 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbo is a little beefier with 175 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. 

The lower terms have a variable transmission, and the SX Turbo has a dual-clutch transmission. There is no conventional transmission. The dual-clutch transmission is pretty jerky and fails to provide smooth shifts. Also, it has a delay upon accelerating. 

To make matters worse, this transmission is prone to overheating. You can drive the Seltos SX Turbo like a sports car. It’s loud as it accelerates, has a stiff suspension, and wind noise is noticeable too. But the handling is pretty good. 

How is the Kia Seltos interior? 

The 2021 Kia Seltos has an interior that matches the price, for the most part. There are lots of plastics and rough materials that get slightly better as you go up in trim levels. However, the Seltos SX turbo still has tons of plastics. But it is supposed to be a rugged off-roader. 

RELATED: Is the 2021 Kia Sorento Better Than the Kia Seltos?

According to Edmunds, the seats aren’t very supportive and can be uncomfortable during long drives. But the backseat is pretty comfortable for a tiny SUV. Also, the climate control system struggles to keep the cabin cool on hot days. 

The 2021 Seltos has tons of cargo space for its class. It has 26.6 cubic feet of storage space behind the rear seats with up to 62.8 cubic feet total. But it lacks a power liftgate like rivals such as the Toyota RAV4, and Honda CR-V have. 

How is the Kia Seltos tech? 

The 2021 Kia Seltos has great tech features, including an available 10.3-inch infotainment display. Each trim level comes with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Higher trim models can be equipped with a wireless smartphone charging pad, head-up display, and three USB ports. 

2021 Kia Seltos Interior, view of the front seat and dashboard
2021 Kia Seltos Interior | Kia

The 2021 Seltos has tons of optional safety features too. You can add automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert, and lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist. 

Keep in mind that these tech and safety features are optional. You have to pay a little more for them. Otherwise, the Seltos is pretty bare bones. This is disappointing because rivals like the Toyota C-HR and Nissan Kicks include a bit more standard stuff.