Crossover & Midsize

The Kia Seltos Struggles While Off-Roading

The Kia Seltos is starting to make it’s way across the country on various roads and trails to be tested. In a majority of ads, the 2021 Kia Seltos is seen in the wild, living its best life as an off-roader. However, when put to the test, it seemed to have a little trouble. 

The Kia Seltos struggles while off-roading

Give Driving Sports TV a shout out for spending some time in the new Kia Seltos to record what it can do. They recorded a video of how the Kia Seltos performed on the road and on a rocky trail to prove it’s capabilities. 

The 2021 Kia Seltos has a starting price of around $21k. They tested the Kia Seltos SX trim with all-wheel-drive. This model goes for about $29k, so it should have an abundance of power and off-roading features to enjoy. 

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While driving on the road, the Kia Seltos had a fair amount of pep. It has a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that provides 175 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. It was noted for having a stiff ride that improves when sport mode is engaged. 

2021 Seltos

The driver noted that the Kia Seltos has plenty of acceleration for errands around town, but feels sluggish on longer stretches. When accelerating from 0 to 60, it feels slow until the turbo kicks in. When tested on a track, it takes 7.5 seconds to reach 60 miles per hour. It can tow up to 2,000 lb, but that could slow it down even more. 

Kia Seltos off-roading problems 

When taken off the pavement and onto the trail, the suspension felt a little stiff. It has large 18” wheels for better cornering and a ground clearance of 7.3”. It also has no underbody protection, so it isn’t designed for climbing over obstacles. 

In the beginning, the Kia Seltos slipped a little on the rocks, meaning it will probably slip more than rivals do on the same trail. Also, the driver noticed the smell of the clutch almost immediately. 

2021 Kia Seltos parked in the woods
2021 Kia Seltos

The driver decided to lock the center clutch system to distribute power from the front to the back. It also used brake vectoring to redistribute power back into the system. However, while going down a steep grade, the Kia Seltos provided error messages to alert the driver that it didn’t like what he was doing. 

Stopping seemed to cause the transmission to heat up even more as the wheels continued to spin while lifted. After going up 50 feet, the driver had to stop to avoid overheating. When attempting to go further up the trail, the driver decided that the Kia Seltos couldn’t make it. 

2021 Kia Seltos driving down urban street
2021 Kia Seltos | Kia

While going downhill, the brake maintained a lower speed, which is a positive factor. Usually, when vehicles aren’t designed to go off-roading, they go downhill too fast. So while the Kia Seltos can’t make it up hills, it can climb down pretty well. 

While the driver had positive things to say about the Kia Seltos in terms of its performance on the road, it’s interior, and loaded tech features, it couldn’t perform very well on the trail. The 2021 Kia Seltos seems like it should stick to the main roads instead of trying to keep up with other compact off-roaders like the Subaru Crosstrek or Jeep Renegade.