Since launching in 2020, the Kia Seltos quickly became one of the best and most popular subcompact SUVs on the market. It’s now the Korean brand’s top seller in Canada, too. Making the feat even more impressive is the fact that customers literally have a dozen other options in the segment.
Not one to rest on its laurels, Kia is refreshing and updating the Seltos for the 2024 model year. Revised styling, powertrain upgrades and more standard content including new safety features are all part of the package.
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More Aggressive Looks
As mid-cycle updates typically go, this one comes with changes to the exterior design. The Seltos looked good but admittedly lacked flair, so Kia has tweaked the front grille and bumper to give it a slightly more aggressive appearance. Select models also get LED headlights.
The evolution in styling is perhaps more striking in the rear with redesigned, 3D-style taillights that occupy more real estate. Don’t miss the new X-Line model if you’re looking for somewhat rugged and adventurous-looking SUV, but make no mistake: this is still a city-first vehicle.
Inside, the first thing you’ll notice is the revised instrument panel with an available 10.25-inch display. When paired with the equally sized centre touchscreen, it gives the Seltos a state-of-the-art interface similar to that in recent Kia products like the EV6. Base models settle for a 4.2-inch instrument display and eight-inch touchscreen, mind you. In any case, the infotainment system is easy to figure out and navigate.
Almost the Same Engine
Another part of the 2024 update involves the chassis and powertrain. First, the suspension has been slightly recalibrated in order to optimize ride quality and handling.
Under the hood, two engines are available once again. The standard 2.0-litre four-cylinder mill is essentially unchanged, producing 147 horsepower (+1 hp) and 132 lb-ft of torque through a continuously variable transmission. SX and X-Line model house a turbocharged 1.6-litre unit that gets a 20-horsepower bump to 195 horsepower, matching the Hyundai Kona N Line. Peak torque is still 195 lb-ft. What’s more, the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission has been replaced with a conventional eight-speed automatic.
These cosmetic and mechanical changes are complemented by a longer list of standard features. Forward collision avoidance assist, lane keeping assist and blind spot monitoring can be found on all 2024 Seltos models. Also new is safe exit assist, which rear passengers (often kids) from opening the door when another vehicle or a cyclist is approaching from behind.
Convenient items like a hands-free power liftgate and digital key are available, the latter allowing you to use your smartphone as a key to unlock the doors.
What might be the ultimate gadget is a thing called Sound Mood Lamp. Basically, it adjusts interior lighting based on the music that’s playing through the speakers. Cool? Maybe at first, but it kinds of gets annoying after a while.
Comfortable and Pleasant Enough
Other than that, critics will say the Kia Seltos is pretty boring inside. Others might disagree. One thing’s for sure: material selection reflects a desire to cut costs. On the plus side, there’s ample space for a family of four and the cargo area (752 litres) ranks among the largest in the segment along with the Volkswagen Taos’.
In an ideal world, the turbocharged 1.6-litre engine would be the only option under the hood. It makes the Seltos much more responsive and fun to drive, while the eight-speed transmission does a fine job. The naturally aspirated 2.0-litre engine is a decent daily performer when you’re not in hurry or hauling a lot of cargo, but proves noisy under hard acceleration especially with the CVT it’s mated to.
Steering is precise enough, while the ride is pleasantly smooth and comfortable. All-wheel drive is standard on SX and X-Line models and optional on other Seltos models.
At the end of the day, it’s easy to see why this little Kia (not so little, actually) has become so popular, so quickly. Content is generous, even more so more 2024, while the driving experience is largely what most people look for in a subcompact SUV. Sure, fuel economy could be better with both engines, but depending on your driving style, it’s still fairly reasonable. The Seltos is a small, urban-oriented crossover that gives you plenty of bang for your buck and deserves all the success it’s enjoying right now.