To understand the 2021 Kia Seltos, you first have to consider its soul, the Kia Soul. Between the fun-and-funky styling and the compact, practical body style with tons of cargo room, the car that has defied traditional segment labels for a decade (and won an Autoblog comparison test) is a great all-around daily driver for folks who don’t want something that's obviously a crossover. There’s just one problem: A lot of people really, really want crossovers. With this in mind, Kia decided to see if the Soul could be made more like one of them. Now, the simplest way to do that could've just been to introduce an all-wheel-drive Soul derivative, but somewhere along the line, the Korean automaker’s product planners decided that would've been a half measure. They considered the fast-growing small crossover segment too hyper-competitive to simply trot out some half-assed Soul "Cross Country" model. Well, besides the X-Line. Instead, the 2021 Kia Seltos was born, a completely different vehicle in its own right, yet one that wears its soul on its sleeve by packing subtle hints to that trademark styling and some of its interior options. If offering all-wheel drive as standard helps cement its identity as a crossover, then the fact its all-wheel drive system comes with a locking center coupling truly seals the deal. In fact, despite our best efforts, we could find only one glaring omission in its CUV bona fides — towing capability. It has none. Sure, Kia offers a “Lifestyle Hitch” accessory for the Seltos, but that's only good for plugging in something like a hitch-mounted bike rack. Those with jet skis, you're out of luck. Trying to further pigeonhole the Seltos quickly becomes difficult, as the baby crossover space is so crowded with new entries in search of a niche that it’s almost impossible to strictly define how it is segmented. You could easily count 20 vehicles of varying size and capability as competitors for the Seltos, from the front-wheel-drive-only Nissan Kicks and Toyota C-HR to the off-road-ready Jeep Renegade. Sister company Hyundai’s Kona and smaller Venue could be considered, too, and then there's the Soul for those who don't need all-wheel drive and obvious crossover image. Among them all, Seltos falls on the larger end of this evolving spectrum of subcompact “utility” vehicles. Its wheelbase is actually about an inch longer than that of the Soul and the Hyundai Kona (both of which check in at 102.4 inches) and more than 4 four inches longer than that of the baby Venue. If you’re familiar with Kia’s smaller vehicles (or Hyundai’s), you’ll be unsurprised to learn that the Seltos can be had with both a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder paired to a CVT (Kia calls it “IVT” for “Intelligent Variable Transmission") or a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. All-wheel drive is effectively standard on all but one model, the S, which comes only with the 2.0-liter engine and CVT. The 2.0-liter engine makes 146 horsepower and …
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|MPG||29 City / 34 Hwy|
|Transmission||2-spd CVT w/OD|
|Power||146 @ 6200 rpm|
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