Lock The ‘Center Diff’ And Send It In The 195-Horsepower 2024 Kia Seltos

2024 Kia Seltos

And now the moment you likely haven’t been waiting for, another subcompact crossover. Mind you, the 2024 Kia Seltos gets a reasonably involved refresh and packs a few nifty tricks that should make it worthy of commuter consideration.

There’s a lot of trash in the sea of subcompact crossovers, vehicles that offer no more usable space than their hatchback equivalents despite being less efficient and more costly. However, the Kia Seltos is a little bit different. For starters, it’s one of the few crossovers that lets its driver manually lock the torque split to 50:50 front-to-rear. Then there’s the fact that it’s available with a reasonably pokey turbocharged engine as an option, an uncommon thing in this segment. Finally, it’s the right size to be genuinely usable, headroom is great and the boxy silhouette benefits cargo area shape.

2024 Kia Seltos

So what’s new for 2024? Let’s start with the oily bits. While the current model’s optional 1.6-liter turbocharged engine makes a perfectly adequate 175 horsepower, the refreshed model gets a revised optional engine, good for 195 horsepower. That’s a pretty big jump, although a torque figure hasn’t been announced yet. Lower trim levels continue with a two-liter four-cylinder engine making 146 horsepower paired to a CVT. While current 1.6-liter turbo models put power down through a cringe-inducing dry-clutch DCT that really rides its clutch off the line, new turbo models get a conventional eight-speed automatic that should prevent you from wincing upon leaving stoplights.


That’s one of my issues with the outgoing version likely sorted, so what about the interior? The outgoing car made a great first impression on a test drive but began to feel cheap after spending some time in it. Some of the cheapness will likely remain, but higher-trim 2024 models get a new dashboard that looks more modern. The infotainment screen and digital gauge cluster have been combined within a single bezel, while a new trim panel on the passenger side of the dashboard largely eliminates the awkward material transition seen in the outgoing model and new air vents seem devoid of tacky piano black plastic. While I’d still want to see this interior in person before passing final judgment, Kia appears to be moving in the right direction.

In addition to the updated interior design, Kia’s also rolling out more features like available ventilated front seats and a power liftgate, two toys that sound rather nice. Of course, Kia isn’t just sticking to physical features, adding over-the-air updates to avoid dealer visits and available digital key functionality in case you ever wanted to loan your Seltos out using text messages.

2024 Seltos

On the outside, the 2024 Kia Seltos gets a new front end that neither improves nor worsens its appearance. The grille is still oddly-segmented and more functional than attractive, the headlights are still quite very over-styled, and the front bumper still has a certain amount of silver garnish. However, I’d call the rear end of the new Seltos an improvement as it relocates the reflectors to the lower bumper, brings in a slick heckblende tail light treatment, and the reshaped rear bumper is more visually-interesting. The photos you’re seeing are of the new X-Line trim which adds a special dark grille, special wheels, black trim, and a roof rack for mildly outdoorsy types.

From where I sit, it looks like all the positive traits of the Seltos are maintained with this update. It’s still functional, it’s still right-sized, and it still has that locking diff for heavy snow. Add in a revised interior, more available power, and a promising new gearbox, and it genuinely seems like Kia has made a better Seltos. Expect pricing to drop closer to launch in the first half of 2023.

All photos courtesy of Kia

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24 Responses

  1. It’s nice to see an automaker competing in this segment – somethign that is basically otherwise solely occupied by the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. Compact SUV, boxy for good storage, kinda short wheelbase. You know, compact. As opposed to other compact SUVs that have continued to balloon like the Ford Escape and Hyundai Tucson (each fine for their segment, but the Outlander Sport and Seltos compete is a slightly different one).

  2. This might be a fine vehicle, I have no idea, but the name…it’s always reminded me of a pharmaceutical ad – “Ask your doctor if Seltos is right for you”. Seems more suitable as treatment for acid reflux. I’m pretty sure “Canyonero” is available for those seeking a rugged, outdoorsy moniker.

  3. No thanks.
    I’ll take a first generation RAV4 with a real locking center differential, more cargo space and three pedals please.
    (If I could find one in good shape).
    This particular vehicle segment has not improved since the “Corolla on stilts” came out 27 years ago.

        1. I salute you on DD a 2000 car. The fact that its a prism i put you on the short bus. I DD a 2001 Isuzu Vehicross it is far better than anything from 2001 and i prefer it over anything from 2022. I doubt a GEO Metro could stsnd up for yhat

          1. You are correct sir. But i got over 50 mpg once. In Arizona there is a place that is a slight downgrade for over 5 miles. I was patient enough to coast for those 5 miles. Otherwise 15mpg is a dream. But considering the average car payment is $600 a month my monthly gas is far less than that so being paid off my VX is cheaper to operate than anything i can buy.

  4. I’ve got a 2021 Seltos SX (along with a Cayman S fwiw) and really love it, think it’s a ton of car for the money. Everything it tries to do it does well, unlike e.g. our CX-5 we had before this which had terrible seats, terrible wipers, terrible infotainment — Seltos is loud inside and the interior materials outside of what you touch often are cheap, but it drives reasonably great actually, is very comfortable, looks good, has FANTASTIC self-driving for the price (a major step above the Stinger I had as far as self-steering goes), very nice screen/UI. Really really happy with it and its 10-year warranty and highly recommend to all who need something like this

  5. >”Then there’s the fact that it’s available with a reasonably pokey turbocharged engine as an option, an uncommon thing in this segment.”

    I’ve thought I’ve usually seen pokey refer to a powertrain as slowish? In context I believe you mean it’s peppier than most in the class

    Anyway – I’ve always liked the Seltos in this class as it seemed a bit roomier and had a broader feature set compared to the others at the time for the price, more like the typical H/K value proposition. The powertrain packaging was strange mostly with the base engine, as it started with AWD LX, then S could be FWD or AWD, then back to standard AWD for EX – neither all-AWD (like Mazda went to), nor just a choice of FWD or AWD on mainstream models. It appears 2024 models might be more typical and moved to the latter. I assume that’s thanks to the larger redesigned Sportage being out, as the old was pretty close in size to the Seltos.

    I drove the 2.0/IVT powertrain in a rental Forte a few months ago and found it actually decent as those go. Not quite on the level of the Civic 2.0/CVT, but better than a lot of the previous-gen Nissans or Toyota CVT, admittedly haven’t driven the latest round of either. I’m sure any reviews/comparisons will again have the 1.6T, but would be interested to see how the 2.0 engine compares to the HR-V/Corolla Cross/etc counterparts.

    And glad they dumped the dual-clutch on the 1.6T – wonder if they’ll do the same on the 2.5T models that have an 8-speed DCT like Sorento/Santa Fe down the line.

      1. They moved away from the same powertrain combo near the end of the previous-gen Tucson’s run, seemingly indicating they were shifting (no pun intended) away from such transmissions, only to roll out the 8-speed DCT for other models. Just odd.

        I will say, my father has a Niro which has a 6-speed dual-clutch, and that seems to be fine so far (fingers crossed), almost indistinguishable from a good regular autobox. But there’s also less going on – no turbo boost, no sporting aspirations, just economy – which I’m sure helps.

  6. I have neighbors who bought not one, but TWO of these. One rolled up one day then a day or two later they decided to take the plunge on a second one. It’s not of the weirdest normie car flexes I’ve ever seen. Their license plates are the exact same except the second one’s final number is one digit higher. Nice S e l t o s e s bro!

    To play devil’s advocate to a degree-I own a Kona N and have driven a 1.6T AWD Kona as well, which share the same platform. Due to the short wheelbase, low (for a CUV) ride height, and light-for-2022 weight, even the 1.6 is a fairly peppy car. If you’re used to driving something older and/or other econoboxes, this platform feels closer to a GTI than, say, an HRV or CVT Civic or something like that.

    But I can’t fathom loving it so much that you get TWO of them. Weird flex but okay…

    1. There isn’t a manual offered with the Kona. The base base one gets the dreaded CVT, the turbo ones get a 7 speed DCT, and the N gets an 8 speed wet DCT. But as the article states I think the 7 speed DCT is being swapped out for a traditional 8 speed starting next year.

  7. Dude shouldn’t you be posting this on the Greenpeace site? I have that 50-50 lock on my 2001. A CVT transmission is an asset? Tjat should get you fired or at least sent to Jalopena site. A 1.6 vs my 2001 3.5. HP is less too. If you write for a car site you should attack a new car if it is less capable and uglier than a similar car from 25 years earlier.

  8. “Lock The Center Diff And…”

    You got hoodwinked by marketing wank my friend.

    You can’t lock the center diff if you don’t have one. It has a Power Transfer Unit and a Rear Drive module with clutches. That button marked to look like it locks the center diff just engages “off-road mode” in the AWD control module. It preloads the clutch pack pressure (either electrically or electro-hydraulically) but that usually only lasts for the first few tens of MPH and only if you aren’t turning the wheel. Otherwise it just acts as a more aggressive algorithm in looking at commanded torque values.

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