Kia has a lot riding on the 2024 Seltos compact SUV. Set against a market of 15 competitors, the company wants to see the SUV maintain its position as one of its best-selling cars in Canada.
In the past year, it has been the top seller in the compact SUV segment with 7,400 units sold, and represents 25 per cent of all Kia vehicles sold in Canada, according to David Sherrard, the company’s director of strategic planning. It fits between the Soul and Sportage in Kia’s SUV lineup.
That success “speaks to how important it is to get this vehicle just right,” Sherrard said. “We have very high aspirations and ambitions for this vehicle.” In practical terms, that means selling 20,000 of the SUVs in a year.
To make that happen, the vehicle, which first arrived in Canada in 2020, has had a facelift, some tech upgrades, a new transmission and a new top trim line.
In a segment where prices range from $25,000 to about $40,000, the Seltos starts at the bottom, with an starting price of $25,195 for the base LX AWD model. That’s a bump of $1,500 over the 2023 model. Our tester, the SX Turbo AWD, jumps from $31,595 to $35,795.
But you do get more in the 2024s. The base model now gets safety systems such as blind-spot avoidance, forward-collision avoidance and lane-keeping as standard and comes with 17-inch wheels.
Kia has introduced a new transmission and upgraded engine in the SX Turbo AWD. It pairs a more powerful turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder gas engine with an eight-speed automatic. This combination offers peppy performance – the turbo has 195 horsepower, 20 more than previously, and 48 more than the naturally aspirated engine – especially when driven in the sport mode, but it does come at the cost of higher fuel consumption.
Other new features are nice-to-haves such as a memory driver’s seat and power liftgate with an infinitely adjustable opening. The digital key function and new displays will appeal to those who love their tech and enjoy a customizable display experience.
The SX Turbo has been displaced as the top trim by the new X-Line. It’s designed to be more rugged and upscale looking, with 18-inch black wheels, roofrails and visual details such as a different paint scheme on the grille and skid plates. The extra $2,600 these frills tack on to the price tag can buy a lot of gas.
The company’s target demographic is urban or suburban singles and couples, perhaps about to embark on starting a family, said Michael Kopke, Kia Canada’s director of marketing. Kia sees the Seltos as an enabler of an urban lifestyle.
With a starting price of just over $25,000, the Seltos offers good value for the money. Kia expects the mid-level EX models to be the bestsellers, but the SX Turbo offers perhaps the best all-round performance at only a small premium of $2,300 over the EX Premium. With the more powerful engine and better transmission, it’s better to drive, while offering extra tech like a head-up display and Bose sound system.
Buyers of any Seltos model are getting a competent, good looking, but unassuming vehicle. It offers good driving manners, plenty of room and modern looks. With all-wheel drive across all the trims, it’s well equipped to cope with Canadian winters and the occasional ex-urban adventure.
2024 Kia Seltos
- Base price/as tested: $25,195/ $35,795 (plus $1,900 for freight and pre-delivery inspection, $100 for excise tax and taxes)
- Engine: two-litre four-cylinder; 1.6-litre turbo, 4 cylinder
- Transmission/Drive: CVT automatic / All-wheel drive; eight-speed automatic / All-wheel drive
- Fuel consumption (litres per 100 kilometres): 8.3 city, 6.8 highway; 8.8 city; 8.2 highway
- Alternatives: Honda HR-V; Hyundai Kona; Buick Encore
The refreshed Seltos is understated and sleek, and in no way distinctive. A new treatment on the grille and front fascia lend the SUV a more contemporary look than the previous version. There are four wheel options, depending on trim, and they are all ugly.
The interior of the Seltos is visually quiet, with monochromatic finishes. The new integrated digital cluster and infotainment touchscreen combo is stylish, while the driver-oriented console puts all the controls in the right places. Seating surfaces are firm, but the high driver’s position may not be comfortable for the very tall.
The 1.6-litre turbo with eight-speed automatic transmission is smooth through most of its range, although it does seem to have poor shift mapping in a couple of spots. Driven in “sport” mode, the map is considerably better, although with full gas the Seltos produces more noise than acceleration. Its performance is unremarkable, but solid for a vehicle in this bracket.
The driver interface is good. With Android Auto or Apple Carplay on even the base model, and a suite of standard safety systems, the Seltos is ready for modern driving. Mid and upper trims get the 10.25-inch navigation and touchscreens and the Kia Connect service adds telematics features for a subscription fee that kicks in after three years.
The Seltos is spacious for a compact SUV, there is plenty of leg and headroom front and rear, and the rear hatch is well designed and easy to access, providing 742 litres of space behind the second row of seats. Towing is not recommended.
The 2024 Seltos is a great entry-level SUV. It is easy to drive, spacious and good looking without being edgy. It would be a solid middle-of-the-road choice for urban or suburban drivers.
The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.
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