2022 Kia Seltos

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Updated: January 18, 2022

2022 Kia Seltos

The Kia Seltos is a five-seat crossover that’s not much bigger than the Kia Soul, but it has all-wheel drive that the Soul lacks. And it looks quite different, aside from a similar nose. For 2022 every model but the base gets a 10.3-inch touchscreen and remote start, and a new Nightfall edition gets 18-inch black wheels and other black trim. The Seltos also gains automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and automatic high beams standard; higher trims get blind-spot monitors and adaptive cruise control.

A 146-hp inline-4 powers most Seltos crossovers, with a CVT. Its lukewarm acceleration doesn’t hamstring its drivability. There’s also a turbo-4 with 175 hp and 7-speed dual-clutch transmission that isn’t as refined as it should be.

The Seltos seats four adults well. The front seats could use more bolstering, but the rear seats recline for relaxation or fold to boost the Seltos’s substantial cargo space.

The front-drive Seltos is EPA-rated at 29/35/31 mpg; with AWD it gets 27 mpg city, 31 highway, 29 combined. The turbo-4 drops to 25/30/27 mpg.

The IIHS calls the Seltos SX a Top Safety Pick; it’s the only Seltos equipped with LED headlights. Meanwhile the NHTSA gives it four stars in its crash tests.

Model Lineup

Made in South Korea, the Seltos starts at $23,665 for the base LX, which has all-wheel drive, 17-inch wheels, power features, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Curiously, it’s that base model that gets all-wheel drive.

For $200 more, the S has more features, including a 10.3-inch screen, remote start and fog lights, but it’s front-wheel drive.

The $26,965 Seltos EX AWD adds synthetic leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, power front seats, and sunroof.

The $29,165 Seltos SX Turbo AWD adds a 7.0-inch driver information screen and adaptive cruise control.

Every Seltos comes with an outstanding 5-year/60,000-mile warranty.

Exterior

Compared to the Soul, the Seltos is long and tall, with crisp lines and jaunty proportions that make it resemble some European hatchbacks, or even the Volvo XC40. The contrast-color roof, with blacked pillars makes the roof appear to float. The hood and nose wear deep creases, while a wide honeycomb grille and headlights band it all together with vertical fog lights that give the front end some height. The angular fog lights and deeply creased hood set it apart. At the back, the Seltos wears simulated dual exhaust ports—for the look alone, since they’re not functional.

Interior

Inside, an asymmetrical instrument panel cants controls toward the driver, a pleasant and simple design that’s capped by an 8.0-inch touchscreen on the base LX, and a 10.3-inch touchscreen on all other models. The dash is wrapped in hard black plastic and vinyl. Bits of chrome in the cabin try to no avail to mitigate the damage done by the glossy dash. Overall, the fit and finish is good.

The Seltos measures 172.0 inches long on a wheelbase of 103.5 inches, but like the Soul it’s a marvel of packaging and still seats five passengers well enough; however a better fit might be four people and a couple small bags in the center rear position.

The front seats seem wide, and need more bolstering. Base cloth upholstery can be upgraded to synthetic leather. Back-seat passengers also get good space; the Seltos can seat 6-footers behind 6-footers, and the rear seats recline.

Loading is a bit challenging, with the Seltos’ high cargo floor and a small tailgate, but there’s 26.6 cubic feet for cargo, which expands to 62.8 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded.

Driving Impressions

Most Seltos hatchbacks develop 146 hp from a 2.0-liter inline-4 teamed to a CVT. Acceleration to 60 mph is in the nine-second range, slightly better in front-drive models that weigh less. The powertrain is adequate.

The 175-hp 1.6-liter turbo-4 is more energetic, and can be coaxed into playful acceleration. Its 7-speed dual-clutch automatic is eager to upshift; in fact it can be too eager, and it’s hesitant when shifting at low speeds in city driving. We almost always prefer the non-CVT in our reviews, but not in this case because the 7-speed isn’t fluent at city speeds.

The Seltos rides more softly than expected, more compliant than the Soul. The handling is fine, despite some lean in corners. The steering gets progressively firmer with the driving mode—Eco, Normal, and Sport—but it doesn’t have much feel in Eco or Normal modes.

The Seltos’ available all-wheel-drive system is geared more toward all-weather traction and dusty trails than rugged off-roading.

Final Word

If you like the Soul but need all-wheel drive, you’ll like the 2022 Kia Seltos. We’d stick with the base drivetrain for its smoothness and for its value—capped by Kia’s excellent warranty coverage.

 

—by Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection