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When it came down to a little SUV VS little SUV battle, the Kia Seltos was able to leave the Mazda CX-30 in the dust. So, if you’re looking for a deal on a compact SUV that can handle some light trails, go with the Kia Seltos, check out how it beasted the Mazda CX-30. 

The Kia Seltos beasted the Mazda CX-30 

The Kia Seltos and Mazda CX-30 ditched the pavement for some mud, water, and gravel. The Kia Seltos got to the end, while the Mazda CX-30 seemed to struggle along. But that doesn’t mean you should dismiss the Mazda CX-30 as an excellent option to buy. It has its advantages on the road. 

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

The guys who run the TFL podcast, which stands for The Fast Lane Cars, took the Kia Seltos and Mazda CX-30 on a light trail in the Rocky Mountains to see what they could do. They noted that both of these SUVs are for driving to trailheads or cabins and not off-roading, but they tested their limits anyway. 

Kia Seltos and Mazda CX-30 Performance

The Kia Seltos started with a clear advantage over the Mazda CX-30 because it has 7.9” of ground clearance, while the Mazda CX-30 only has 6.9” of ground clearance. That entire extra inch provides a lot more capability for going over obstacles. 

2020 Mazda CX-30 | Mazda parked near home
2020 Mazda CX-30 | Mazda

However, the TFL guys mentioned that the Kia Seltos has a dual-clutch transmission, which isn’t the best option for rock crawling. When pushed to the limits, the Kia Seltos began to overheat and had a funny transmission smell. 

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But when the Mazda CX-30 tried to go over the same obstacle, the clutch was about to hit the rock. It needs a transfer case or a skid plate to protect the undercarriage.

The Kia Seltos has two metal skid plates, like the Jeep Renegade, even though TFL mentions that neither of these options can compete with the Jeep Renegade. 

Kia Seltos and Mazda CX-30 features

The Kia Seltos comes with all-wheel-drive and starts around $21k, making it a very affordable option for tackling snow and other slippery conditions. The Mazda CX-30 starts around $21k, but to add AWD, the price goes up to around $23k. 

The Mazda CX-30 on display at the Brussels Motor Show
The new Mazda CX-30 | Didier Messens/Getty Images

With the Seltos, you get Dynamax intelligent all-wheel drive that automatically adjusts to changing conditions. You can lock the Kia Seltos in AWD mode too, but the TFL hosts unlocked it for off-roading. 

The Mazda CX-30 has i-ACTIV AWD to predict traction loss and send the right amount of torque to each wheel. You can turn on Off-Road mode to help even distribute torque among the wheels evenly while off-roading. 

2021 Kia Seltos X-Line Urban Concept is on display at the 112th Annual Chicago Auto Show
The Kia Seltos | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

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The Kia Seltos has a beefier suspension as well. It has an independent MacPherson strut suspension in the front with gas field shock absorbers and an independent multi-link suspension in the rear. The Mazda CX-30 has a MacPherson suspension in the front without the shock absorbers and a rear torsion beam suspension. 

When it comes to off-roading, a multi-link suspension can better distribute the weight of the vehicle. Also, the TFL dudes noted that they preferred the larger front seats and the digital display in the Kia Seltos. However, the Mazda CX-30 is noted for having a sportier look, better smell, and could be the better option on the road.