Review: Kia Seltos 2.0L SX AT

The fun-loving, feature-packed crossover

Text and photos by Eric Tipan

In case you’re interested in the Kia Seltos subcompact crossover but can’t make out its personality, let me tell you, the two-tone body color of the SX variant is an instant giveaway.

It’s perky (almost hyperactive even) and energetic, and feels like an excited kid who’s still coming to grips with how to handle power versus body weight.

Designed to specifically attract millennials (sorry Gen X, Y, and Z), it sports a very modern body while paying an ode to the first subcompact crossover of Kia, the Soul, with its sharp-angled front doors. While it minimizes on the body lines for a neater overall appearance, it does have an impressive façade and rear.

In front is an understated grille with silver top and bottom borders and flanked by an all-LED lighting system from the headlamps, position lamps, DRLs, and even fog lamps. I like that the headlamps aren’t too thin so you can clearly see the nice bulb work.

At the shapelier backside is a spoiler, silver tailgate garnish with integrated reverse lamps, an LED high-mount stop lamp, LED rear combination lamps, and a thick, rear underbody garnish.

Overall, it has really great proportions with just the right nose length, low roof, shorter tail, and the proper ground clearance for a really nice, compact body. Rarely does a body color capture a vehicle’s demeanor but Kia did well with this playful two-tone exterior.

The top-spec variant gets all the goodies starting with a cool keyfob. All its buttons (lock, unlock, remote start, and auto tailgate) are found on the thin side and in case you’re wondering how to tell which is which, the lock button is bigger and placed on the edge with a raised corner. Don’t worry about clicking a thing though. Simply press the button on the door handle to unlock.

Like its body, the dashboard layout is very neat as well. It’s good that Kia didn’t try to do too much in here, which is sometimes what other automakers do to attract younger buyers thinking more is good.

The top is smooth, without layers, and the front isn’t littered with trim. There are a few silver accents, but only around the aircon vents and weirdly, just on one side of the pillar of the front cubby hole.

Its eight-inch infotainment touchscreen looks great and the operating system is impressive. The menus are organized, easy to navigate, and very intuitive; no second-guessing needed to operate. Pairing was easy too. But what I liked more was the glossy automatic climate control panel. This is something I don’t see very often.

The steering wheel is leather bound and comes with many controls (MID and cruise control on the right, audio/telephone on the left), but fortunately, they’re big and properly labelled so as not to confuse.

Seats are a combo of leatherette and cloth, although I would have preferred Kia went with all-leather for its P1.505-million price tag. But at least, the seats were very snug and if you know how to properly position yourself, it’s almost bucket-seat like.

The driver’s position has an awesome view despite the seat being only manually-adjustable. Ceiling height is just right that your head doesn’t hit the liner when you lift the seat and even if you don’t, hip angle is good that you don’t feel buried into your seat.

It comes with a 2.0L engine with D-CVVT (Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing), which sends 149 PS and 179 Nm of torque to the front wheels via an iVT (Intelligent Variable Transmission).

Eco mode doesn’t feel sluggish like the others. In fact, I stayed on Eco for much of the drive as it already delivered the proper amount of power and pull to make the drive engaging. There wasn’t much of a delay from throttle input, which also made it easy to overtake on highways.

Normal adds a little more responsiveness but Sport feels like it just increased the revs, which was noisier than it was faster. It doesn’t seem to me like drivers will use these extra modes a lot but at least it’s nice to have, just in case the need arises.

Fuel consumption reached 13-kilometers per liter on the highway and a very good 9-kilometers in the city.

That very agile behavior could, in part, be due to the ‘floaty’ feel it delivers, especially at high speeds. It became a little more reactive on the highways so I had to adjust steering input to match its responsiveness.

Comfort will also need some improvement. While it is roomy enough for five, there is a small amount of noise, vibration, and harshness that comes in. Whether it’s from the 17-inch wheels or the body, Kia has to sort that out.

Downhill Brake Assist and Hill Start Assist are exclusives to this variant along with driver, front passenger, side, and curtain airbags.

If you like your crossovers with a cool and youthful vibe, you can’t ignore what the Kia Seltos 2.0L SX AT brings. It may command a pretty penny but it comes loaded to justify the price.