Kia Seltos SUV Subcompact Gets an Upgrade for 2024

Tom Crosby
| January 26, 2024 | 4 Minute Read
2024 blue Kia Seltos SUV subcompact on a green field Tom Crosby

Kia added the SUV Seltos subcompact crossover to its fleet in 2021, slipping it between the popular Kia Sportage and the Kia Soul, also small SUVs.

Now, only three years later, the 2024 Seltos SX top trim has won the Affordable SUV Challenge—for the second straight year—beating other popular subcompact SUVs priced around $30,000, including the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Premium, Chevrolet Trax Activ, 2023 Honda HR-V EX-L, Volkswagen Taos SE and Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid S.

Also, for the second straight year, the 2024 Seltos won a Kelly Blue Book Best Buy Award in its class.

The Seltos SX turbo all-wheel-drive, our test-drive, added 20 horsepower with an 8-speed automatic; reworked the sheet metal with new front and rear facias plus geometric-style wheels; placed two side-by-side 10.25-inch dashboard screens in the cabin, and colored our car an eye-catching Pluton Blue.

The biggest cabin design change was the mated twin screens extending along two-thirds of the dashboard, offering a gauge display and an easy-to-navigate infotainment touchscreen that can split-screen audio and map functions.

By the final quarter of 2023, Kia Seltos was on target to have its best sales year and has been cited by several automotive magazines and analysts as having above-average reliability and resale value in its SUV niche.

Seltos trims are LX, S, a new X-Line, EX and SX Turbo, ranging in base price from $24,390 (the LX) to $29,990 (our SX Turbo).

Our test vehicle

Subtle sculpting on the hood and sides to a slightly pugnacious wide black grille, black cladding and wheels, steady beltline, black fusion roof, black rails and window surround, contrasted nicely with the Pluton Blue color for an attractive visual.

We added only two options—paint ($395) and floor mats ($175)—totaling $31,885, with a $1,325 destination fee.

Our interior consisted of black and gray dimpled and patterned hard plastics, with some soft touches around door handles and the armrest. The ambiance is clean but lacks top interior materials and trim, with lower mood lighting that can pulse along with the rhythms emanating from its angled Bose speakers.  

The test drive

Aided by torque-vectoring all-wheel drive, handling was excellent, with confident road grip atop 18-inch wheels.

The MacPherson strut front suspension and coupled torsion beam rear suspension system worked together to absorb bumps and shocks, although the ride felt a bit stiff.

Acceleration was decent—the improved 1.6-liter turbo engine generated 195 horsepower with the new 8-speed automatic transmission in Sport drive mode. (There are also Normal and Eco modes and a manual slip/slide option.)

Handling was precise and controlled—a pleasure in curves and when mingling with high-speed interstate traffic.

Highlights of the Seltos

Standard driver safety features are strong and included automatic emergency braking, lane centering with lane departure warning, automatic high-beams, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and dynamic cruise control. Voice recognition was good and navigation on target.

Government crash tests gave the Seltos an overall 4 out of 5 crash safety rating, and insurance industry testing named it a “Top Safety Pick.”

Aimed at younger buyers seeking all-wheel-drive and mild off-roading with 7.3 inches ground clearance, buyers will find hill assist and descent controls, center lock differential and lower body cladding.

Inside the user-friendly capacious cabin under a sunroof, seats wore SynTex (a durable, easy-to-clean synthetic leather), front seats were heated, rear seating legroom touted as best-in-class with mild reclining seatbacks. Seatbacks also fold down to create a sizable cargo area, which is also promoted as best-in-class. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard with the Seltos.

Kia’s warranties offer unmatched 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain coverage, but there is no free maintenance.

Overall review

LIKES: Price, acceleration, exterior look, cabin/cargo space, standard driver safety features, handling, spare tire, quiet

DISLIKES:  No complimentary maintenance, inexpensive looking cabin

BOTTOM LINE: Great family car for the price with strong DNA for reliability and resale values

Car fact file


        2024 Kia Seltos SX Turbo AWD         

    Base Price                     $31,315 ($31,887 as tested)
    Curb Weight       3,294 lbs. 
    Wheelbase      103.5 inches
    Length       172.6 inches
    Width       70.9 inches
    Engine Specs      1.6-liter turbo, 4-cylinder boxer, DOHC                              
    Horsepower      195 hp @ 6,000 rpm
    Torque      195 lb-ft @ 6,000 rpm
    Transmission      8-speed automatic/manual shift
    EPA Rating       26 mpg city | 27 mpg hwy
    Range       13.2-gallon tank, regular
    Performance       0-60 in just over 7 seconds

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