July 18, 2024
Wheels

Compact Seltos gets needed exterior upgrades, new tech additions

Kia crossover is better looking, slots between Soul, Sportage

The 2024 Kia Seltos is available in five trim levels: LX, S, EX, X-Line, and SX. All-wheel drive is standard on the base-level LX and the top two trim levels.

We first met the Kia Seltos crossover in 2020, when it slotted in between the strange-looking Soul and the popular Sportage. In 2024, Seltos gets notable changes, including a much bolder exterior styling, additional tech/convenience features, and a new X-Line trim level.

The Seltos X-Line replaces the former Nightfall Edition, though it still offers the attractive “blacked-out” style while adding a bold grille and heavy-duty roof rack. Maybe the best news about Seltos in 2024 is the more powerful engine that upgrades performance two-fold.

The 2024 Kia Seltos is available in five trim levels: LX, S, EX, X-Line and SX. All-wheel drive is standard on the base-level LX as well as the top two trim levels. If you are not impressed by the performance upgrade this year, you may appreciate the base prices ranging from the base mid-$20,000s to the high-end mid-$30,000s.

Like most of Kia’s stable of vehicles, there is real value built into their entire lineup. My SX Turbo with AWD had a base price of $29,990 and a final price after adding in a $1,200 Sunroof Package and $1,325 Destination Charge of $33,085. In today’s market, for a 5-passenger vehicle that has a 10-year/100K-mile warranty on the powertrain, there’s not a lot of risk putting this on your short list.

Exterior

Seltos didn’t change too much, but what changed had some impact for sure. Firstly, the larger grille and optional full-projection LED headlights and LED Star Map lighting stretching the headlights across the grille are a very contemporary look. The lower bumper seems to push out and give the Seltos a wider appearance.

I think the Seltos’ redesigned tailgate is its best feature. The vertical taillights linked by a light bar spanning the rear of the SUV looks amazing in day and night visibility. Thumbs up to the redesigned geometric-style 17-inch Machine-Finished alloy wheels as well as the new selection of contemporary colors, including my test vehicle’s Snow White Pearl.

For those considering the new X-Line trim, it definitely will give your Seltos a distinct look. Look for the X-Line’s unique grille pattern, heavy-duty roof rack, and gloss-black 18-inch alloy wheels. This model is just about appearances, however, as it doesn’t gain any off-road capability.

Interior

While Seltos may be more of the value-end of the spectrum at Kia, I think the cabin delivers a truly premium level of quality, especially with the SX trim I tested. Device integration is easy with multiple USB ports and a wireless charging pad. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity is standard but requires a wired connection.

Soft-touch materials were prevalent, fit and finish were excellent, and high-tech displays made my tester feel like a much more expensive vehicle. The front seats provide firm padding and side bolsters for support. In the Seltos SX, Kia’s SynTex artificial leather upholstery is standard, and both front seats are heated. Front seat ventilation is an option, which is a rarity in this segment.

Seltos gets new instrumentation and infotainment displays housed within a single panel. The setup is basic in the base model LX, all other trims get two 10.3-inch screens. I appreciated the physical knobs for stereo power, volume and radio tuning. Kia also keeps the climate controls separate from the displays, which keeps things from looking too busy.

The rear seats are equally as comfortable with plenty of head and legroom. With more than 26 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, the Seltos offers decent utility. Fold the 60/40 rear seats flat, and the cargo area expands to nearly 63 cubic feet.

Kia equips all Seltos models with advanced driving-assistance systems, and my SX featured blind-spot monitoring and a rear cross-traffic alert. Exclusive to the Seltos SX, a Junction Turning Detection system will warn the driver and apply the brakes if it detects an oncoming vehicle while making a left turn. My tester also featured Highway Driving Assist, which combines adaptive cruise control with lane-centering assist and employs navigation-based curve speed control.

Performance

One thing I do want to emphasize is that the 195 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque coming from my SX’s 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is plenty for this feather-weight crossover. You have plenty of ability to pass and to merge at highway speeds. I found it to be responsive and reliable.

Mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission going to all-wheel drive with torque vectoring and a locking center differential, my SX shifted smoothly and quickly whenever called upon to get up and go. My AWD Seltos was rated at 25/27/26 mpg city/highway/combined. For an all-wheel-drive crossover – that’s very good!

Last thoughts

Kia starts most conversations with its value pricing and impressive warranty – and it should. After that, I found the 2024 Kia Seltos to be average on the exterior looks when compared to a very intense group in its segment. The turbo engine is a selling point, as well as the addition of convenience and safety technology this year.

• John Stein is a freelance journalist based in Chicago. He has more than 25 years of experience driving, testing, and writing about the automotive industry, its latest innovations, and new vehicles.