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Mark Savage's auto review column, Savage On Wheels, looks at a new vehicle every week and tells consumers what’s good, what’s not so good, and how the vehicle fits into the marketplace.

2024 Kia Seltos SX Turbo review

2024 Kia Seltos SX Turbo right front
Mark Savage
Savage On Wheels
2024 Kia Seltos SX Turbo right front

Three years ago I loved Kia’s new Seltos, a compact low-cost crossover with style, a well-crafted interior, and AWD.

It has only gotten better.

Now the tested SX Turbo version comes with 20 more horsepower, its efficient 1.6-liter I4 turbo pounding out 195 horses with an identical torque rating. Last time I was also wowed by the bright electric mustard paint job with black roof, but even in bright Snow Pearl White ($395 extra) this 2024 model looks more upscale than its pricing would indicate.

How so?

Well, the basic boxy shape has some flair with a swept back roofline, much like the Kia Soul. Here though, there’s textured metal trim on the nose and a chrome trim accent on the lower edge of the side windows that subtly sweeps up behind the rear most window just below the spoiler over the hatch. The lights are stylish up front and there’s a light bar across the back that blends into large angular taillights.

Over the wheel wells is the requisite crossover black plastic cladding, but these split on the rocker panels to create a bit of a racing stripe in white as it exposes the body color between the cladding. On the roof are two satin chrome roof rails that accent the roof line. Clever!

All this is likely to capture a buyer’s attention, which is probably two-thirds of the battle for sales in today’s crossover crazy marketplace.

Yet, Seltos doesn’t disappoint mechanically. In fact its quick handling sets it apart from many crossovers. This feels more like a nimble compact car than an AWD crossover. Oh, and there’s that AWD system that seems to work just fine on sloppy roads and even a hill descent button in case you’d care to take this Kia on a mild off-road adventure.

The power, though, is the surprise. The former version packed 175 horses and with the turbo seemed quick and agile. The extra 20 ponies now give it even more oomph, plus there are the three drive modes, Sport, Normal and Smart.

Smoothing out the performance and aiding its low-end acceleration is a new eight-speed automatic transmission replacing the former CVT. This feels more responsive and refined.

The ride continues to be good for a 103-inch wheelbase vehicle. A couple more inches of length might further smooth it, but the short stance aids the Seltos’s nimble nature. Harsh roads provoke some interior jiggle. But, the ride is mostly, well controlled.

Inside this is another stellar Kia interior, starting with the digital dual screens all in one smooth package that does not protrude much beyond the dash’s top. Looks great, and functionality is simple with a responsive 10-inch touchscreen. Dash design is straightforward and elegant too with easy to see and use climate buttons and radio knobs below the center air vents.

Heated and cooled seat buttons and traction-related controls are on the console with a shifter between. Drive modes are handled via a large knob at the console’s front left edge.

The dash is a matte black top with tan lower trim as the leather-like seats also are that handsome tan. A gloss black trim brightens the door panels and satin chrome trim is used there and on various vents and controls. Smartly, the cupholder area is flat black too. So, Seltos avoids any major reflections to distract the driver on sunny days.

Those cooled seats and a power sunroof and power hatch are part of a $1,200 package on the SX Turbo model. The heated seats are standard.

Standard too is a wireless charger where a phone neatly fits in a tray above the cubbard located under the center stack. Seltos even comes with a flat-bottom steering wheel to add modern flair while freeing a bit more knee room under the steering wheel, nice when entering or exiting the crossover.

Better news for families, Seltos will easily seat four adults with massive headroom and good legroom in the rear seats. Likewise, there’s a bunch of cargo space behind the split fold-down rear seats. Fold the rear seats down and Seltos will haul up to 62.8 cubic feet of cargo.

Kia’s seats also are well-formed and comfy. I ran a couple of longer highway jaunts in this and did not suffer any leg or tailbone fatigue.

My complaints here are mostly minor. The chime that rings every time you turn off the car to warn of something possibly being in the rear seat is annoying, but lawyers apparently insist on it. Also, the Kia plays a little tune when you start or turn off the car. Totally unnecessary.

Like many crossovers and SUVs (not Subarus) there’s a big A-pillar/mirror blind spot, but other visibility is quite good. There’s also no heated steering wheel.

Gas mileage was fine too for a spunky crossover with me getting 28.8 mpg in about 70% highway driving. That was even better than the EPA rating of 25 mpg city and 27 mpg highway.

For the record, Seltos is named after Hercules’ son Celtos from Greek mythology. Not sure why it had to be spelled with an S not a C. I don’t think there’s a copyright issue with ancient Greece. Whatever!

Pricing itself is close to mythic, with the base LX listing at $25,715. It comes with just ah a 146-horse engine (no turbo) and smaller info screen, but that price includes AWD and delivery. Gas mileage is even better with the less powerful engine, the EPA rating it at 28 mpg city and 34 mpg highway.

That engine is standard in the S and EX models too, listing at $26,315 and $27,115, respectively. The EX adds the dual screens, 10-way power driver’s seat, heated front seats and wireless charger.

A new X-Line model jumps up to the turbo I4 and includes design features to give it a more off-roadish look, so gloss black trim, gray grille, skid plates, high-utility roof rails and a locking mode for the AWD system.

If that look isn’t for you but you want the turbo power, go with the tested SX at $31,315. With its sunroof package, bright white paint and carpeted floor mats the tester ended up at $33,085 or about $12,000 less than the average new car price today. Note too that a hybrid model is planned.

This is a crowded market though, so one may also want to consider the Kia Niro or Soul, a bit smaller, or Kia’s Sportage, a bit larger. Competitors include the Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona, Nissan Kicks, Mazda CX-30 or Subaru’s Crosstrek.

One final feather in Seltos cap, a 4-star NHTSA crash test rating and 5-year, 60,000-mile warranty along with a 10-year 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

FAST STATS: 2024 Kia Seltos SX Turbo

Hits: Stylish crossover with good power, quick handling, AWD and excellent value. Dual digital screens easy to see and use, sunroof, heated/cooled front seats, wireless charging, good climate buttons/knobs, flat-bottom wheel, big cargo area, roomy interior, comfy supportive seats, super dash design.

Misses: Chime continually warns driver to check the rear seat and large A-pillar/mirror combo obstructs side view. No heated steering wheel.

Made in: Gwangju, So. Korea

Engine: 1.6-liter turbo 4-cyl., 195 hp / 195 torque

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Weight: 3,247 lbs.

Wheelbase: 103.5 in.

Length: 172.6 in.

Cargo: 27.0-62.8 cu.ft.

MPG: 25/27

MPG: 28.8 (tested)

Base Price: $31,315 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $29,966

Major Options:

Snow White Pearl paint, $395

SX sunroof pkg. (power sunroof, power liftgate, cooled front seats), $1,200

Carpeted floor mats, $175

Test vehicle: $33,085

Sources: Kia, www.kbb.com

Mark Savage writes the auto review column, Savage On Wheels, for WUWM (formerly for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) and Savageonwheels.com. He is the former executive editor of American Snowmobiler magazine and FineScale Modeler magazine, both part of Kalmbach Media in Waukesha.
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