Model bloat is a hell of a thing, huh? While the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Kia Sportage used to be pint-sized utility vehicles, their current models are all surprisingly large, undeniably spacious, and unfortunately expensive. Thankfully, there is hope, and it comes in the form of cheaper, right-sized subcompact crossovers like the Hyundai Kona and its cousin, the Kia Seltos. The 2024 Kia Seltos X-Line is nearly the same size as an original Honda CR-V, but does it have what it takes to tempt people out of larger compact crossovers? I tested one to find out.
First, a disclaimer: The Seltos X-Line in America sits above the EX trim, while this Canadian Seltos X-Line sits above the ritzy SX trim. As such, some features like the ventilated front seats (jeez, spoiler alert) aren’t available in this trim for most readers. However, this smorgasbord trim lets us try out just about everything available on a Seltos, so let’s roll with the bright side.
[Full disclosure: Kia Canada lent me this Seltos for a week, so long as I reviewed it, photographed it, and returned it undamaged with a full tank of gas]
What Is The 2024 Kia Seltos X-Line?
Not only is the 2024 Kia Seltos X-Line roughly the same size as compact crossovers used to be, the Seltos itself is among the cheapest all-wheel-drive vehicles on sale today with a base price of $25,715. The only all-wheel-drive cars that beat it on price are the Subaru Impreza and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, and those both come with caveats. The Subaru Impreza isn’t as spacious as the Seltos, while the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport was bad in 2016 and has only aged worse since then.
Oh, and the value of the Seltos gets even better as you add options. If you loaded up a Toyota RAV4 to roughly match this Seltos X-Line, you’d be paying an extra $6,005. Think of this as an affordable way of getting into an all-wheel-drive crossover that’s genuinely big enough to be a family car.
Price: $30,015 ($41,033 Canadian) as-tested
Engine: 1.6-liter turbocharged 16-valve gasoline four-cylinder.
Transmission: Eight-speed conventional automatic.
Drivetrain: Full-time all-wheel-drive with locking power transfer unit.
Horsepower: 195 horsepower at 6,000 RPM.
Torque: 195 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,600 RPM to 4,500 RPM.
Fuel Economy: 25 MPG city, 27 MPG highway, 26 MPG combined (9.4 L/100km city, 8.7 L/100km highway, 9.1 L/100km combined).
Body Style: Five-door subcompact crossover utility vehicle.
Curb Weight: 3,247 pounds.
How Does It Look?
Well, it’s very crossover-y. Squared-off, upright, and with enough styling for three or four cars, it fits right in with the current crop of highly-equipped urban haulers. Did Mazda make a prettier subcompact crossover? Absolutely. Does it actually matter? Not one bit. A car like this is just a wrapper for you to put your supersized life in, and dull is typically more favorable than controversial.
You know what isn’t dull though? This shade of blue. Hot damn, is it ever delicious, and massively in season right now. Mercedes offers a similar shade on the G-Wagen that the rich and famous are throwing money at salespeople to get, so to have the choice of something similar from Kia is marvelous.
How About The Inside?
Spacious, thank you very much. In fact, the Seltos is so spacious that if you have, say, a twelve-year-old Ford Escape, this will feel just as roomy. Forget the “subcompact” label, that’s just model bloat kicking in for everything else. Based on the numbers alone, the Seltos is as roomy as a Sportage was just a few generations ago.
However, numbers don’t tell the whole story, especially when it comes to cargo space, because nothing other than a bag of Canadian milk is one convenient, flexible liter. Cargo area shape matters, and the Seltos’ cargo area is pretty much as squared-off and usable as they come.
Contrasting all this utilitarian roominess is the presence of stitched materials on the dashboard and door cards, ventilated front seats on this Canadian example, and a sleek dual-screen setup. You really aren’t giving up much over a larger compact crossover, and you’re saving a bundle with a loaded Seltos over, say, a loaded Toyota RAV4. If you’re particularly feature-driven, it might be time to think small.
What’s It Like To Drive?
On the 2024 Seltos, the optional 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine gets a power boost to 195 ponies, and a new eight-speed conventional automatic transmission to replace the old seven-speed dual dry clutch transmission. The immediate result? Solid acceleration, and now you won’t arrive everywhere smelling like clutch.
However, this newfound refinement and, um, odor reduction comes at a cost: Low-speed transmission response. If you’re creeping along at say, 20 mph or less and suddenly want to merge, the powertrain control systems take a couple seconds to perhaps send some faxes before sorting things out. Could you accidentally run one of these crossovers directly into the passenger door of whatever you’re trying to merge in front of? If you’re an idiot, sure. For most people though, this transmission behavior will just be disconcerting, and potentially enough to pass over the car altogether.
A weird transmission delay is a shame, because there’s lots to like about how the Seltos drives. The steering, while light at low speeds, weights up nicely on the highway, and ride comfort is remarkable for a subcompact crossover. I believe the technical term for the condition of Toronto roadways is, um, shite, yet the Seltos swallows up expansion joints and skips over potholes. Short wheelbase who? You can even lock the front-to-rear torque split 50:50 on all-wheel-drive models for deep snow, beachy silt, heavy loam, and possibly even TV game show quicksand. Maybe don’t try that last one, but you get the idea. It’s a crossover utility vehicle, with a little extra emphasis on utility.
Does It Have The Electronic Crap I Want?
Oh, buddy. Oh, buddy. This absolute mack-daddy spec 2024 Kia Seltos has electronic crap you want, electronic crap you never knew you’d want, and electronic crap childhood you would’ve thought was impossible. Sure, the typical fully-loaded feature set of CarPlay, head-up display, navigation, premium sound, panoramic roof, power driver’s seat, et cetera is on deck, but there’s so much more going on here than that.
For instance, displaying a camera feed of your left or right blind spot in the digital cluster depending on which turn signal is activated is still genius several years on. Can I get sunglasses with that built-in? Oh, and then there’s the key, which looks like a detonator from a 1980s action film. Every time you lock this thing, you can pretend you’re Mel…nope. You can pretend you’re Steven…no, that legacy hasn’t aged well either. Hmm. Well, you can pretend you’re cooler than a polar bear in a hot tub full of dry ice. Then there’s the stereo on my loaded Canadian example — you don’t expect a Bose system to be excellent for its class, but this one is. However, we’ve only reached the tip of the Seltos’ iceberg of gizmos.
This Kia Seltos is genuinely doing the most with digital instrument clusters because although this isn’t the most configurable unit in the game, it features a simulated sky during the day and shooting stars at night. You don’t even get shooting stars in a Maybach gauge cluster. It’s a similar deal with the ambient lighting, which can pulse on-beat with the music at proper driving speeds. Is that even legal? Who cares? It’s provocative, and indicative of Kia’s willingness to take risks and get the people going.
Three Things To Know About The 2024 Kia Seltos X-Line
- You can lock its all-wheel-drive system for winter traction.
- It’s surprisingly spacious.
- Canada’s version gets way more toys.
Does The 2024 Kia Seltos X-Line Fulfill Its Purpose?
Damn near perfectly. Aside from an occasionally recalcitrant transmission calibration and the expense of this trim, Kia has absolutely nailed the essence of the subcompact crossover. It’s not too big, not too small, not too sparse, not too posh, not too tall, not too low, and just the absolute poster child of right-sizing. Oh, and perhaps the best part? Unlike the Hyundai Kona, all of the Seltos’ gimmicks are fun, not posturing. Isn’t it amazing what a good facelift can do?
What’s The Punctum Of The 2024 Kia Seltos X-Line?
Kia has built a better Hyundai Kona.
(Photo credits: Thomas Hundal)
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