2021 Kia Seltos Review | Philkotse Philippines

Updated Jun 01, 2021

Editor's: 4.0/5
A perfect blueprint for new breed of Kias.
2021 Kia Seltos Review | Philkotse Philippines

In this review...

  1. Introduction
  2. Exterior
  3. Interior
  4. Tech & Safety
  5. Engine & Performance
  6. Fuel Efficiency
  7. Verdict
  8. Variants & Price
  9. Color Options
  10. Specs

2021 Kia Seltos: Introduction

Around a decade or so ago, Kia vehicles, or South Korean cars in general, suffer discrimination from Filipino car buyers – the same current state that Chinese cars are in right now and the same way that Japanese cars were treated unfairly half a century ago.
 
But as we all know by now, times have changed and continuously changing, and Kia has already proven itself as a desirable car brand. The design and build quality have already improved by a ton, to the point that modern Kias can now stand side-by-side with its Japanese counterparts – sometimes even better.
 
The South Korean automaker has been introducing its makeover’s second wave in the Philippines, and the Kia Seltos is one of the first to bear the second generation of its design philosophy. Is it any good? And more importantly, should you consider it despite the sea of choices in the market?
>>> Related: KIA K2700 2014 FOR SALE

4.0/5

Kia Seltos 2021 Review

How we do our reviews
  • aesthetics
    4.50/5

    Overall exterior & Interior design, build quality, form vs function

  • Safety & Technology
    3.50/5

    Number of safety & tech features, consistency during usage

  • Performance
    4.0/5

    Power delivery, acceleration, transmission, suspension, handling

  • Comfort & Practicality
    4.0/5

    Overall Ride Comfort, Space, Storage Areas

  • Value for Money
    3.50/5

    Sticker price vs overall package

2021 Kia Seltos Exterior Review: No major complaints here

 A picture of the Kia Seltos' side profile

The Kia Seltos from the side

Wide tiger grille, imposing stance, and all-LED affair – these things make the top-spec Kia Seltos SX stand out in the sea of subcompact crossovers. As the platform twin of the Kona, the dimensions are close, but the Seltos has its own identity, veering away from the quirky appeal of its Hyundai cousin.

A picture of the Kia Seltos' rear end

The Kia Seltos from the rear

There isn’t anything with the Seltos’ styling that’s subtle. Both fascias are busy and the swoopy roof rail’s uniquely styled – even the Y-spoke wheels look stylish and snazzy. If not for the faux dual exhaust tips at the back, I would have given it a perfect score in terms of design. The two-tone Strabright Yellow color paint of the tester makes up for that fakery, though, so I’ll give those a pass.
 

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2021 Kia Seltos Interior Review: A comfortable place to be in

A picture of the interior of the Kia Seltos

The Kia-made crossover's cockpit

The Seltos’ cabin has the biggest improvements from its past. If you’re been inside an old Pride, you’ll know what I mean. The styling isn’t going to win awards, but you know at one glance that the materials used are of great quality. The steering wheel is sized right and feels nice to the touch, while the leather seats with fabric inserts are comfy to be in. You’ll appreciate the fabric inserts of the Seltos when you’ve left it parked under the scorching sun as it doesn’t heat up as much as those full-on leather upholstery. Soft-touch plastics mostly populate the dashboard; you just need to be careful with the shiny piano black ones are they are prone to annoying fingerprints and scratches.

A picture of the Kia Seltos' gear shift lever surrounded by piano black plastic

Yeah, you'll have to wipe these parts clean occasionally

As for space, there’s plenty inside the Seltos for four average-sized individuals. Five is possible but as with most subcompacts, that’s going to be a squeeze. There isn’t a foldable armrest for the rear passengers, though, as well as A/C louvers. The 433-liter cargo area has a flat lip and offers sufficient space for normal family usage, but I can’t help but wish there’s a removable tonneau for added protection. The rear backrests fold completely flat to the floor, so that’s a plus.

A picture of the Kia Seltos' trunk with the rear seats folded down

The Seltos offers a great deal of usable space for cargo

2021 Kia Seltos: Tech & Safety Review

As modern as it gets – the Kia Seltos may not have the 360-degree-view cameras of its Chinese rivals, but it’s sufficiently equipped for daily and weekend use. Everything basic control is powered, while the 8-inch infotainment screen has a crisp display that’s perfect for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. There are also cruise control and speed-sensing door locks, but my most favorite feature would be the remote-start function that always worked like a charm during testing.

A picture of the Kia Seltos' 8-inch infotainment system

The eight-inch touchscreen aboard the Seltos

Despite these nice tech features, I couldn’t help but look for electronic seat adjustments and USB charging ports at the rear. This is in consideration of the Seltos’ price tag, which, admittedly, is a bit pricey for its class. Then again, if the remote-start function makes up for that, it’s entirely up to you.
 
As for safety, the Seltos SX comes standard with six airbags, ABS with EBD, stability control, downhill brake control, hill-start assist, and ISOFIX child seat tethers. The middle passenger at the rear will have to make do with a lap belt, though.

2021 Kia Seltos: Engine & Performance Review

In terms of driving dynamics, the Seltos is one of the dean’s listers in its class, but not the best. Handling is definitely the Seltos’ greatest trait. The motor-driven power steering is on-point and makes the crossover as nimble as a motorcycle. The steering feels light yet it has an awesome amount of ground feedback. Suspension, on the other hand, is tuned to be sporty yet still comfortable for the occupants.

A picture of the Kia Seltos' engine

The Kia crossover's 2.0-liter inline-4  Atkinson Cycle Gasoline engine

With those said, the Seltos is engaging to drive; it could have been the best out there if not for the limitations of its Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT) – Kia’s newest version of CVT. While the 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle engine does provide more than enough power to the front wheels, the IVT puts a slightly noticeable delay when changing paces. But overall, the IVT is still better than most CVTs – I just couldn’t help but notice the missed opportunity of being the best.

2021 Kia Seltos: Fuel Efficiency

The IVT is still a CVT, so I expected great fuel economy from the Philippine-spec Seltos – it didn’t disappoint. A quick sprint with the Seltos on Skyway at an average speed of 90 km/h returned an impressive 21.2 km/l, while in-city traverse amid light traffic registered around 14 km/l. Amid heavy traffic, I got 8.6 km/l. 
 
All of these numbers were taken with only two people aboard, minimal luggage, and while in Normal driving mode.
 

2021 Kia Seltos Review: Verdict

Kia has already earned its rank in the local automotive market, and it’s not showing signs of slowing down with the Seltos. Shortcomings included, this good-looking crossover is a great blueprint for future Kia vehicles, proving to us that despite having already improved from its past, these South Korean cars can still be better. The overall quality is something that’s hard to engineer, and I believe that Kia engineers have done a great job in the Seltos.
 
And then, there’s the rub. At P1,505,000 (add P20,000 for the two-tone variant seen here), the Seltos SX is admittedly at the latter end of the subcompact crossover pricing spectrum, standing side-by-side with the Honda HR-V, Subaru XV, and Mazda CX-30. If you have the means to look beyond that relatively hefty price tag, the Seltos would be a solid choice.
 

2021 Kia Seltos: Variants & Price

KIa Seltos Variants 

Price 

Seltos LX 2.0 AT 

Php 1,098,000 

Seltos EX 2.0 AT 

Php 1,198,000 

Seltos SX 2.0 AT 

Php 1,505,000 

2021 Kia Seltos: Color Options

2021 Kia Seltos Color Options 

Dark Ocean Blue, Starbright Yellow, Mars Orange, Gravity Grey, Iron Grey 

2021 Kia Seltos: Specs

Overall 

Make  

Kia 

Name 

Seltos 

Body Type 

5-door crossover 

Dimensions and Weight 

Length 

4,370mm 

Width 

1,800mm 

Height 

1,610mm 

Wheelbase 

2630mm 

Ground Clearance 

170mm 

Curb Weight 

1,295 kg 

Engine and Transmission 

Type 

2.0-liter inline-4 Atkinson Cycle Gasoline engine w/ dual-CVVT 

Max Power 

147 horsepower 

Max Torque 

179 Nm 

Transmission 

Intelligent Variable Transmission 

Chassis and Suspension 

Brakes (Front/rear) 

Disc/Disc 

Suspension (Front/rear) 

MacPherson Strut/Torsion Beam 

Wheels and Tires 

17-inch Alloy wheels – 215/55 R17 

Exterior 

Halogen Projector Headlamps 

LED turn signal lamps 

LED taillights 

Side-mirror integrated turn signals 

Rear spoiler 

Roof rail 

Automatic headlight function 

Fin-type antenna 

Front fog lamps 

Interior 

Analog gauge cluster w/ digital trip computer 

Push to start button 

Cruise control 

8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto 

Six-piece speaker system 

Leatherette streering wheel 

Manually adjustable driver’s seat with height adjustment 

Tilt and Telescopic adjustable steering column 

Automatic air-conditioning 

12-volt accessory outlet 

Fabric covered seats with 60:40 split and recline 

Safety and Security 

Hill-start assist 

Reverse Camera 

Parking sensors 

Seatbelt reminder 

Driver, front passenger, Side and Curtain Shield Airbags 

Anti-lock braking with electronic brake-force distribution 

Stability control 

Engine Immobilizer 

Stability Control 

Jacob Oliva

Jacob Oliva

Author

Jacob is one of the premier motoring journalists in the Philippines. A former musician and a corporate slave, he took the leap of faith amid his twenties and started his writing career as a news and features writer for AutoDeal. It was there where he made his way up to become the chief editor and senior car reviewer before he left the company in 2020.

Right now, Jacob serves as the Content Manager of Philkotse. You may also read his insights about the local automotive industry in his column under Wheels, the motoring section of Philippine Star. A recipient of the Henry Ford Awards in 2019, Jacob is also the weekend editor for Motor1, a leading global automotive website.

Jacob has started his adoration for cars at an early age through his father’s Jeep Wrangler and his older brother’s Nissan Sentra. He currently has a soft spot in his heart for the latest version of the Suzuki Jimny, so don’t be surprised to see him one day driving a black or gray mini-SUV – bone-stock but with upgraded tires and rims.

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