Review: Kia Seltos SX

The compact SUV with a bold statement

Text and photos by Neil Pagulayan

Being one of the most popular car segments these days, compact crossover SUVs are practically everywhere on the road. To stand out from the crowd while still offering the best features of the segment, Kia has the standout Seltos.

Launched with the slogan, “Dare to be Bold,” the Seltos compact crossover SUV is offered as a more compact but standout alternative to the Sportage. This week, we were fortunate enough to have the top-of-the-line SX variant.

Distinct exterior

Kia has put a lot of effort into the Seltos’s design. Up front, Kia’s Tiger Nose grille is still a mainstay and is easily recognizable from a distance. The SX’s LED daytime running lights are hard to miss, being a long strip that runs atop the headlight cluster, extends over the grille, and terminates at the notch on the top part of the grille.  LED turn signals light up three lines just under the headlight. You also get LED fog lights which are actually three small, high-intensity LEDs stacked vertically.

The grille receives just as much attention to detail, practically blending into the headlights. It’s also got a unique honeycomb design to it.

The exterior has a Euro feel to its design. Its two-tone paint scheme features a black roof to highlight its uniquely-shaped silhouette. It’s topped with low profile aluminum rails on the edges of the roof. The side mirrors are black while the door handles are color-keyed. Designed to take on the occasional rough road, rugged touches like an aluminum front lip, and side rocker panels have been fitted.

In the rear, it’s just as distinctive with LED strip lights, integrated exhaust lamps, and an aluminum tail garnish shaped like wings reaching out from the Kia badge.

The Seltos tops this off with 215/55 tires on two tone 17-inch alloy rims and a respectable 170 mm of ground clearance.   


Powering the Seltos is a four-cylinder DOHC C-CVVT 2.0L Atkinson Cycle engine that puts out 149-Ps at 6,200 rpm with 179-Nm of torque at 4,500 rpm. It’s mated to an “Intelligent Variable Transmission” or IVT (Kia’s intelligent CVT) to drive the front wheels.

Tech talk aside, Kia’s intelligent CVT has response quite similar to a conventional auto transmission even when on Normal drive mode. Sport mode has even better throttle response and shifting. Of course, expect stifled performance when on ECO mode.


Doors will gladly unlock with just a press of the button on the door handle as long you have the key fob in your pocket. Inside, it continues its youthful vibe with comfortable fabric seats with leather accents snug enough to keep you from sliding around. 

The dashboard also mixes it up with two different textures on the top and mid part. It’s accented with piano black and brushed aluminum trim.

Ahead of the driver is an instrument cluster with a 3.5-inch multifunction display between the gauges. It comes with a leather wrapped tilt/telescopic adjustable electric power assisted steering wheel. It features steering mounted controls for audio, Bluetooth telephony and cruise control.

These control the six-speaker entertainment system with an eight-inch touchscreen with AM/FM Radio, MP3 with USB, and Bluetooth handsfree via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Seltos has no shortage of useful features. In front of the gear select lever are two 180W 12V outlets and a USB socket. The sun visors have illuminated vanity mirrors.

Between the driver and passenger is the console box with a sliding armrest. The rear 60/40 split seats recline and fold forward fully flat to increase cargo space from 433 liters to 1,393 liters.  

Safety and convenience

Starting is easy with the push of the start button. The Seltos is equipped with seatbelts for five people, complemented by airbags for the driver, passenger, front side and curtain. The safety suite is made up of an anti-lock braking system (ABS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Downhill Brake Control (DBC), and Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC). It also has an anti-theft immobilizer, ISOFIX anchor points and child locks on the rear doors. There’s also a rear-view camera, which utilizes the entertainment system display as its screen.

An SUV will always have more advantages than a sedan with good all-around visibility, a higher up view of the road ahead, and larger and expandable cargo space. Kia’s engineers managed to make comfortable space for five occupants with the second row offering more than enough legroom, headroom and shoulder space for the average Pinoy.

The electric power assisted steering is light and quick. It may not be evident at slow speeds, but offers good feedback as you go faster. The ride is comfortably firm and there’s not much body roll on turns, giving the driver more confidence.

The Seltos is only offered with a 2.0L engine. Still, this engine’s power is more than enough for your daily drive and occasional trips out of town with family or friends and their luggage. The Seltos SX two-tone variant is priced at PhP1,525,000.00, quite near the price ceiling for this segment. It’s justified because it’s well equipped, spacious, and offers good value. Of course, if you can live without a few features or its fancy LED lights, you can opt for the mid or entry level variants like the EX at PhP1,198,000.00 or the entry level at PhP1,098,000.00. Though they don’t quite stand out from the crowd as proudly and unforgettably as this Seltos EX.