Test Drive Notes Library
- A better subcompact car. 10 years ago, when a person wanted an inexpensive car for basic transportation, he or she would look to a Toyota Corolla, a Nissan Sentra, or the like. Now, it’s more likely to be a small crossover like a Honda HR-V, a Nissan Kicks, or a Kia Seltos. And, increased pricing aside, these subcompact crossover vehicles are much more useful vehicles.
- Room. One of the defining features of the above named subcompact cars was their tight interiors. The opposite is true for the Seltos. We’re surprised at how roomy it is. There’s head room, shoulder room, foot room, decent space for the rear passengers, plus some cargo space. The large box, as a form factor, provides more space inside than the suppository. Who knew? The shape helps with visibility, too.
- Handling. The handling is, surprisingly, pretty good. It’s particularly good around town, in urban and suburban traffic, where it handles the basics well. Take it out on a curvy road, and you might need a hit of Dramamine. But heading to the store or dropping off the kids, it’s fully competent. Steering feel is actually pretty decent, which is unusual for this end of the market.
- Ride. It’s not as comfortable as a Subaru CrossTrek, but it’s not bad at all. Like its handling, it’s tuned to be best around town, on reasonably good roads. There, it’s just fine, and even pretty comfortable. Mess with it by driving on some potholed boulevards, and you’ll feel some thwack in the back. Seats are also fine for day-to-day driving.
- All wheel drive option. For those who live in the great, frozen north, the Seltos can be had with all wheel drive.
- Simple. The ergonomics are rather basic, but the upside of that is that they’re totally straightforward. The heating and ventilation is operated by three large dials: Ergonomically, they’re straight out of 1975, but they work perfectly and clearly, just like they did then. Other controls, including the touch screen, are also clear and simple to use. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included. The interior feels pretty up to date, but in keeping with the price, you’ll find more hard plastic in here than in more expensive cars. Nonetheless, our “S” trim came with heated seats, and other pleasantries.
- Warranty. Kia continues to offer a very strong warranty, at 5 years, 60,000 miles bumper to bumper.
Test Drive Notes Library
- Power. Power is certainly adequate with the optional, higher powered 175 hp turbo four. But even with the upgraded engine, highway ramps are long, loud affairs. We worry about the base, non-turbo, 146 hp engine, and whether that will be up to the task on highway drives, passing maneuvers, or hilly terrain. No doubt you’ll get there, but not quickly or quietly. There’s a “sport” driving mode that raises shift points. So you’ll get peppier performance, but at the expense of greater noise and lower mileage. So you probably won’t use it much.
- Safety not standard. The base Seltos comes with little in the way of advanced safety. Forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, and all the other stuff are all optional. So plan to step up to avoid the base “LX” trim. Our well-equipped all-wheel-drive S Turbo model had all the good stuff, and rang the bell at $26,740.
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