Long Term Updates

As for another utility on our lot, the 2021 Kia Seltos, visibility is the word that comes to mind, in every sense of meaning.   

The SX-trimmed Seltos in Starbright Yellow is easy to spot in a parking lot; and certainly sticks out among all the silvers and grays you see during your commute.  

But, visibility is also high from the driver’s seat.  Despite a minimal greenhouse, with rising sheet-metal that leads to chunky rear quarters, it’s easy to see all around you and a breeze to maneuver the Seltos in small places.

In the 5th month of our yearlong test, we’ve only driven about 6,000-miles; and all of the shorter trips has our fuel mileage continuing a slight downward trend to a still good 27.1 miles-per-gallon. 

We had a fair amount of late winter snow here in the Mid-Atlantic, and the Seltos kept us moving, with not only torque vectoring all-wheel-drive, but a manual locking center diff. that ensures power gets split equally between the front and rear axles, for optimum traction. 

Mileage: 3,500

We are rapidly driving towards the holiday season; and though this 2021 Kia Seltos has been in our fleet for only a month, we’ve racked up a quick 3,500-miles.  

Its 175-horsepower 1.6-liter I4 turbo engine is the gift that keeps on giving; feeling both punchy and responsive, and delivering 28.0 miles-per-gallon so far.  

In the subcompact crossover segment, it turns out there IS a replacement for displacement; turbochargers. And the turbo in this Seltos spins up ample torque to get it going in a hurry. The 7-speed dual clutch transmission can be a bit hesitant to engage when there’s a sudden need to accelerate, but flipping it up to Sport mode really sharpens that response.

Like most vehicles these days, it’s very aero-dependent, and driving with the sunroof open can cause some wind buffeting unless you have the windows down fully.  Something we’ll be doing less of in the colder months that lie ahead. 

Mileage: 5,000

Two months in, and we’re nearing the 5,000-mile mark in our 2021 Kia Seltos. This little utility is proving to be quite fun to drive; nimble in the corners, without too much body roll.

And, it certainly has the looks to back up that sporty personality.  There is some kinship to the larger Telluride, but it’s far from a direct copy; the tall front end, and 7.2-inches of ground clearance adding a very SUV stance, unlike many of its car-like competitors in the subcompact utility segment. 

The optional 175-horsepower 1.6-liter turbo engine is quite peppy, and has delivered us 27.6 miles-per-gallon so far; though it doesn’t always seem to be on the same page as the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission it’s mated to. That’s most noticeable around town in constant off/on throttle situations.  

But we’re keeping the Seltos’ metaphorical throttle pinned, as we race into the heart of winter.

Mileage: 6,000

Compromise. It can leave a bad taste in your mouth, and even be a dirty word to some, including many politicians.  But, it also makes for a great crossover.

Case in point, our 2021 Kia Seltos long-termer. It’s not too big, but certainly not too small. Its 175-horsepower 1.6-liter turbo engine is peppy, but not overwhelming. The interior, well thought out and comfortable, but not luxurious.  And finally, a suspension that’s sporty, but not too stiff; having us enjoying our drive time more and more. 

The Seltos is a small crossover with big daily comfort. The seats are holding up well and so is the suspension even as more and more winter potholes appear on our Maryland roads. So the argument for choosing a car over a utility simply because of ride and handling is losing traction…at least in this instance.

After 4-months and 6,000-miles, we’re averaging 27.1 miles-per-gallon, and looking forward to where the Seltos will take us this year.

Mileage: 7,500

Turning our attention to another small utility in our fleet, this 2021 Kia Seltos.  

7,500-miles and 6-months into our test, fuel economy sits at a nice 27.8 miles-per-gallon average.  

We’re diggin’ the interior vibe of this Seltos for sure. You seem to sit really close to the wide and flat dash, which keeps controls within easy reach. Yet, you don’t feel cramped at all.

Now that it’s warming up, we’re taking the Seltos out on longer weekend trips, which means more highway time. Not only does this small turbo 4 have enough power to keep up at interstate speeds, but there’s ample mid-range torque for passing. In terms of comfort, it’s not quite as well suited for really long journeys as, say, a mid- or full-size SUV, but it’s still pretty good.

Mileage: 8,500

Our 2021 Kia Seltos has proved to be quite popular among the staff here at MotorWeek. It’s one small SUV that doesn’t feel small.  Combine that with a sporty but not too stiff suspension setup, and it makes commuting quite entertaining.  

And it’s not just us, as along with the Sportage, Kia now has a potent 1-2 punch in the small SUV segment; and big sales of both have pushed Kia to another sales record.  

Unless you mostly drive around with a full load of people or cargo, upgrading to the optional 175-horsepower 1.6-liter turbo-4 is not really a necessity, but you won’t regret it; it’s a big part of what makes this sub-compact utility so much fun. And averaging 28.2 miles-per-gallon over 9-months and 8,500-miles; it’s proved to be quite frugal as well.  

The Seltos is great for getting around town for quick errands. It’s small, maneuverable, and in our case with this Starbright Yellow paint, easy for other drivers to spot. The dual-clutch transmission occasionally gets confused in quick stop and go situations, but this lively turbo-4 is certainly a high point.

Mileage: 9,000

The other small crossover currently in our fleet, this 2021 Kia Seltos, has provided us 8–months of trouble free service, until recently that is.  No fault of the Seltos, but somewhere along the line, one of its tires picked up a nail; necessitating a stop by the dealer for repair.  

While there, we learned there were some open recalls, all of which just required some safety inspections. Our Seltos was quickly cleared for duty, and we were back on the road in no time, adding onto the 9,000-miles already on the odometer; and keeping fuel economy fairly consistent at 28.3 miles-per-gallon.

The roomy interior is holding up quite well, and definitely feels more refined than most in the class.  

We’re only half way through the summer driving season, so stay tuned for where the Seltos takes us next.    

Mileage: 13,000

It’s hard to believe, but our time with this 2021 Kia Seltos utility is quickly coming to an end. Through 12-months it has seen us through a global pandemic, a Mid-Atlantic winter, and even the remains of a hurricane or two. All without complaint, while delivering a fairly consistent 28.5 miles-per-gallon average over 13,000-miles. It’s hard to stand out in such a crowded small crossover field, but the Seltos manages to do it. This one has a lot of flash with its yellow paint job, but there’s plenty of substance here to back it up. Specifically, the engine. It’s only a 1.6-liter turbo-4, but it’s sneaky powerful. The Seltos is one small crossover that’s not afraid to look like a full-on SUV, taking styling notes from Kia’s biggest utility Telluride. Standing out for reasons other than just its Starbright Yellow paint job.

Mileage: 11,000

With all of the uncertainties we’ve experienced over the last year, it’s good to know there are some things you can rely on.  Our 2021 Kia Seltos subcompact utility has been as dependable as they come through 10-months and 11,000-miles. 

The interior has held up incredibly well; and continues to be comfortable and roomy for the class.  One quirk we’ve noticed, is the light sensor that adjusts interior screens for nighttime use is incredibly sensitive, going back and forth between day and night modes basically every time you drive through a shady spot in the road.  

Fuel economy with our Seltos’ 175-horsepower 1.6-liter I4 turbo has been very consistent the entire time; with our current average at 28.4 miles per gallon.  

While the Seltos’ fuel economy is technically below that nice, even 30 MPG benchmark, it’s still pretty good and its 7-speed dual clutch transmission makes that possible. Granted, as we’ve mentioned a few times before, it’s not always the smoothest operator, but if you ask me, it’s still more enjoyable than a CVT.

Mileage: 13,483

Time to say goodbye to our 2021 Kia Seltos long-term. Part of a rapidly expanding small crossover segment, the Seltos stands out both with style and substance.  

Not everyone was enamored with the Starbright Yellow paint job, but this smooth-bodied utility is more rugged-looking than soft.  SX trim adds some sportiness with 18-inch alloys, full LED lighting, and some tasteful splashes of chrome.  

It also comes with an engine upgrade; a 175-horsepower 1.6-liter turbo-4 which we found to be more than adequate; frugal too, delivering a quite good 28.9 miles-per-gallon average over 13,483 hard miles.

The interior also held up quite well through a year’s worth of abuse; and the only services required were scheduled maintenance and a tire repair.