2021 Kia Seltos SX Turbo AWD: Small Ball

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

The Houston Rockets are showing the basketball world that a big man in the middle is not required to compete. As long as the guards and forwards continue to drain threes and score off the dribble, then “small ball” will work in their favor. In another significant Texas town, Kia adopted the same game plan for the national press introduction of the 2021 adventure-ready Seltos, which is the polar opposite of the larger, distinguished Telluride. Being that the Korean automaker is the transportation face of the NBA, the meshing of the two philosophies works well.

Kia welcomed Fit Fathers and Automotive Rhythms to the second most populated city in the “Lone Star State” for a few days of testing, colonial culture experiences, and a bit of chilly, outdoorsy weather. San Antonio, located in south-central, was ideal for driving as it presented open and flat roads, highways, a mix of switchbacks, and rugged gravel trails to help me truly understand the dynamics of the entry-level SUV. I even performed some light off-roading in the Seltos so we now know it’s not just a pretty face. Christened after the Greek god Celtus, Kia positioned the Seltos between the energetic Soul and Sportage models. Marketing is targeting Generation Y consumers who range anywhere from 22 to 37 years old and demand connected technology as a lifestyle precept. The celestial name is pretty cool too.

Upon arrival at the epic Hotel Emma that served as our headquarters, I automatically gravitated towards the extremely good-looking Starbright Yellow Seltos SX Turbo AWD on display. B concept lighting and a Tiger-nose grille dominate the front fascia, and a contrasting black roof, mirrors, window trim, and tailgate spoiler makes the vehicle’s architecture pop. The only downside of the black roof is the fact that you cannot add a sunroof for some reason. Instinctually, I ran inside, changed into sports gear, and took the trendy ride to Brackenridge Park for a run and photoshoot in its natural habitat. Then I rolled the Seltos by the Japanese Tea Garden to enjoy meditative peace after a fast-paced afternoon. Please make sure to visit this treasure next time you’re in San Antonio. Afterward, I stopped in Green Vegetarian Cuisine, just a stone’s throw away from Emma, to refuel with plant grub. As the Vegan Cyborg, it only makes sense to treat my body and auto-machine alike. If I’m going to drive clean and perform with physicality, then why shouldn’t I eat clean.

The Seltos gets its juice from a 1.6-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine with 175-horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque and is paired with a 7-speed Quick-Shift Dual Clutch Transmission. But based on prior experiences with Kia turbos, they are pretty thirsty, especially the Stinger. Around San Antonio, the 1.6 was pretty vigorous, and maneuverability was like trying to guard the Memphis Grizzlies’ Ja Morant, especially in Sport mode which firms up the steering. For more stringent circumstances, my vehicle was blessed with Magna Dynamax AWD (riding on 18” alloys and 235/45 R18 rubber) with torque vectoring cornering control and a locking center differential. The Seltos features Hill Decent Control, 7.2” of ground clearance, a 28-degree approach angle, and front and rear skid plates. A 146-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine is the second engine option when you need the 6th man to come off the bench. Expect 27 combined mpg from the 1.6-liter Turbo AWD.

Step within to see that the interior feels more spacious than the exterior presents. At 6-feet, I had plenty of headroom. The 10.25” UVO color touchscreen with a rearview camera is a Kia classic, and the Bose premium 8-speaker sound system, a first between the two brands, offers reasonable vibrations. Body conforming sports seats with warmers (10-way powered driver seat), 2-step reclining rear seating, a 3-setting Drive Mode dial, and wireless phone charging are some of the key benefits the Seltos provides owners and passengers. Designers dressed my model’s seats in Sofino Leatherette and synthetic cloth.

In terms of safety, Kia made sure the Seltos was just as talented as the rest of its teammates with available “Kia Drive Wise” Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS), which is like sports analytics to help coaches evaluate the game and strategize appropriately. ADAS includes Blind Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist, Driver Attention Warning, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with pedestrian detection, Lane Keeping Assist System, Smart Cruise Control with stop & go, and Safe Exit Assist to name a few. Then you have UVO Link telematics to dialogue with the vehicle both digitally and remotely, such as sending alerts and shutting the car off.

Consumers can select six Seltos trims depending on needs and expectations. With an MSRP ranging from $21,990 to $27,890, choose between the Seltos LX 2.0L AWD, Seltos S 2.0L FWD, Seltos S 2.0L AWD, Seltos EX 2.0L AWD, Seltos S 1.6T AWD, and Seltos SX 1.6T AWD. My SX Turbo AWD totaled $29,485 including a paint upcharge and freight. Hey, the smaller they come, the quicker they score!

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