Why Would Anyone Buy a Kia Seltos Over a Kia Sportage?

Kia has introduced the Seltos, which is new for the 2021 model year and a competitor within the subcompact SUV class. The company now offers six different SUVs, and the 2021 Kia Seltos is quite similar to the 2020 Kia Sportage. How should buyers decide between the two?

Comparing the interior of the Kia Seltos and Sportage

The interiors of the Kia Seltos and Kia Sportage are comparable in size. The two SUVs have very similar legroom in the rear seats. The Seltos has slightly more headroom in both rows though. The Sportage is 4.4 inches longer, but the cargo area in the two is similar.

The 2021 Seltos offers the largest cargo area for a subcompact SUV according to U.S. News. It has 26.6 cubic feet in the rear and 62.8 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down. The Sportage has 30.7 cubic feet in the rear or 60.1 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded flat. This is more than the Seltos when all seats are in use but less with the rear seat folded down. The Sportage also offers less cargo room than its compact crossover competitors.

The Seltos offers a more modern design since it is a brand-new model, but the Sportage uses materials that are a bit nicer. CarFax found the front seats of the Seltos to be spacious with nicely arranged controls. U.S. News described the Sportage as having a “comfortable ride” and “upscale interior.”


The 2020 Kia Sportage has more powerful engine options than the 2021 Seltos. CarFax thought the Kia Seltos’ acceleration was “only adequate.” The 2021 Seltos has a standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, generating 146 hp. It’s paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission. It does offer a slightly more powerful 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 175 hp.

The 2020 Sportage has a standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, generating 181 hp. The SX Turbo trim has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 240 hp. A six-speed automatic transmission pairs with either engine.

Technology and safety features

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Both SUVs have plenty of technology and driver-assistance features. The infotainment system on the 2021 Kia Seltos is easy to use, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. Most trim levels have an 8-inch touchscreen, but the top SX Turbo trim has a 10.25-inch touchscreen with voice-command navigation.

The Seltos includes a number of driver-assist features for its price point. While not on the base LX trim, the S trim level provides forward collision avoidance-assist camera, driver attention warning, high beam assist, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist, and lane following assist.

The EX and S Turbo trims add blind-spot collision avoidance assist-rear and rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist. The SX Turbo also has safe exit assist, forward collision avoidance-assist fusion, highway driving assist, and smart cruise control with stop and go.

The 2020 Kia Sportage has four trim levels to choose from: LX, S, EX, and SX Turbo. All trim levels have the 8-inch touchscreen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The top SX Turbo trim also has voice-command navigation.

The Sportage offers fewer safety features, but more come standard. The base LX trim includes forward-collision avoidance assist with pedestrian detection, driver attention warning, high beam assist, and lane-keeping assist. Optional on the LX and standard on the S are blind-spot collision warning and rear cross-traffic collision warning. Optional on both the S and EX but standard on the SX Turbo are smart cruise control with stop and go.

Does the Kia Seltos or Sportage offer more value?

The two similar SUVs have starting prices within $2,000 of each other. The starting price for the 2021 Kia Seltos is $21,990, while the 2020 Kia Sportage starts at $23,990. Buyers will have to weigh the newer style, larger maximum cargo space, and slightly larger headroom in the 2021 Seltos against the 2020 Sportage’s slightly nicer interior and better engines to decide which offers the best value. The two are quite similar, and both are good options.