2024 Kia Seltos Review and Test Drive
This classically styled, fun-to-drive compact crossover is a compelling competitor.
The grocery store parking lot or local school pickup line makes it clear: Crossover SUVs are popular with buyers in the United States. That means five-passenger people-movers such as the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 consistently rank among the bestselling vehicles in the U.S. But Honda and Toyota aren't the only games in town.
For example, Kia offers five crossovers, ranging from the stylish, entry-level Soul to the bold, family-sized Telluride. Slotting into the Kia lineup between the small Soul and compact Sportage, the 2024 Kia Seltos features traditional SUV styling and emphasizes room for both people and cargo.
Introduced in 2020, the Kia Seltos gets several updates for the 2024 model year. Changes to the 2024 Seltos include bolder exterior styling, an upgraded interior with more high-tech features, and a new X-Line trim level. The Seltos X-Line replaces the previous Nightfall Edition but adheres to the blacked-out look, adding a more rugged grille and a sturdier roof rack. In addition, the X-Line and the Seltos SX get a more powerful engine in 2024.
The 2024 Kia Seltos is available in five trim levels: LX, S, EX, X-Line, and SX. All-wheel drive is standard on the base-level LX as well as the top two trim levels, and base prices range from the mid-$20,000s to the low $30,000s, including the destination charge to ship this SUV from the factory in Gwangju, South Korea, to your local dealership.
For this 2024 Seltos review, Kia provided me with an SX Turbo AWD for a weeklong test drive in Redmond, Washington. Painted in extra-cost Pluton Blue with a Fusion Black roof, this two-tone Seltos had only carpeted floor mats as an additional option, bringing the manufacturer's suggested retail price to $31,885, including the $1,325 destination charge.
2024 Kia Seltos: The Design
Kia gave the Seltos a fresh look for the 2024 model year, but the exterior changes are relatively minor. Most prominent are the larger grille and available full-projection LED headlights as well as the LED Star Map lighting connecting the headlights across the grille. The lower bumper also has a larger opening, giving the Seltos a wider appearance.
In the back, the Seltos has a redesigned tailgate featuring vertical taillights connected via a light bar spanning the rear of the SUV. Kia has also dispensed with the imitation exhaust outlets in favor of a stylish backup light, rear reflector combination. Redesigned geometric-style wheels add to the new look, as do a range of contemporary colors, including my test vehicle's Pluton Blue, which attracted considerable attention during my time with the Seltos.
Kia offers X-Line styling on the larger Sportage, Sorento, and Telluride SUVs, and for 2024 the Seltos gets the treatment, too. With its unique grille pattern, more robust roof rack, and gloss-black 18-inch alloy wheels, the new X-Line looks sharp. This model is just about appearances, however, as it doesn't gain any off-road capability.
Inside, the 2024 Seltos gets new instrumentation and infotainment displays housed within a single panel. The setup is basic in the Seltos LX, while all other trims include two sophisticated 10.3-inch screens. Regardless of trim level, you'll get physical knobs for stereo power, volume, and radio tuning. Kia also keeps the climate controls separate from the displays.
The Seltos may reside at the lower end of the Kia SUV lineup, but the cabin has a premium vibe, especially with SX trim. Clean design, quality materials, and high-tech displays make the Seltos SX look and feel like a higher-end model. This vibe carries over to the front seats, which are both stylish and comfortable, with good padding and side bolsters to provide support. In the Seltos SX, Kia's SynTex artificial leather upholstery is standard, and both front seats are heated. Front seat ventilation is an option. That's rare in this segment.
Given the good-sized bin under the center armrest and the additional storage space ahead of the transmission shifter, I found storage in the front more than adequate. Multiple USB ports are available, as is a wireless charging pad. The door pockets can easily handle a large water bottle.
While it may be on the small side for a five-passenger crossover, I think the Seltos has a surprisingly roomy rear seat. Passengers will find good legroom and headroom, and with wide doors, getting in and out is easy. While the outboard seats are relatively comfortable, there isn't much padding for anyone relegated to the middle seat, even if there's good legroom.
With more than 26 cubic-feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, the Seltos brings proper utility to the SUV party. That's plenty of room for a few suitcases or a grocery run. Fold the 60/40 rear seats flat, and the cargo area expands to nearly 63 cu-ft.
2024 Kia Seltos: The Technology
In my opinion, Kia makes one of the better infotainment systems on the market, and the large panoramic display in the 2024 Seltos only improves things. Displaying just date, time, media playing, and a map that's more decorative than informative, the default home screen adds to the vehicle's clean design. It takes just a simple left swipe to reveal the full menu of features, which I found easy to navigate thanks to the large, legible icons.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity is standard but requires a wired connection. Plugging my Samsung Galaxy S23+ into the USB port instantly brought up the menu to set up Android Auto, and within a few seconds it was ready to operate. That said, Android Auto takes up the entire screen, and with no dedicated home button, returning to the native Kia controls requires going into the Android Auto menu to select Kia.
As with many newer models, the Seltos also features a voice recognition system, which is activated using a button on the steering wheel. I found the natural-language system worked well for obtaining directions, changing the radio station, and adjusting the climate-control system. However, I found it more natural to simply reach for the stereo and climate controls.
Kia equips all Seltos models with advanced driving-assistance systems (ADAS), although the base-level LX doesn't get blind-spot monitoring or a rear cross-traffic alert. Exclusive to the Seltos SX, a Junction Turning Detection system will warn the driver and apply the brakes if it detects an oncoming vehicle while making a left turn.
The Seltos SX also has Highway Driving Assist (HDA). It combines adaptive cruise control with lane-centering assist and employs navigation-based curve speed control. With HDA, you'll experience a Level 2 semi-autonomous driving-assist system, but you must keep your hands on the steering wheel. After setting the adaptive cruise control speed to 70 mph on the freeway, the Seltos kept a steady distance from the car ahead, and the lane centering worked well, too. Best of all, I found the technology to be smooth and refined.
The 2024 Kia Seltos has a long list of safety features, but as of publication, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has not rated it. Likewise, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) hasn't given the 2024 Seltos any crash-test ratings.
2024 Kia Seltos: The Drive
For this review, I spent a week with a 2024 Kia Seltos SX, which features the higher-performance 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivering 195 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive with torque vectoring, and a locking center differential is also standard on the Seltos SX.
In today's world of wild horsepower, 195 horses may not seem like much, but in a small crossover, Kia's turbo engine provides plenty of oomph. I found the Seltos quick from a stop, with the transmission delivering power smoothly.
The Seltos SX AWD is EPA rated at 25/27/26 mpg city/highway/combined. For an all-wheel-drive crossover with a powerful engine, these figures are impressive. But according to my test vehicle's trip computer, I did even better. After 200 miles of highway and city driving, the Seltos SX showed an average of 28.1 mpg.
Driving the Seltos around town, I found the quick steering response made it agile, and thanks to its clear backup camera and good visibility, parking was easy.
The Seltos' ride is stiff but not to the point of being uncomfortable. On curvy back roads, I found it surprisingly fun to drive. The handling is impressive, and with good power, all-wheel-drive traction, and predictable braking, the Seltos provided me with plenty of confidence.
Although I found road and wind noise loud at freeway speeds, the small Kia crossover works just as well as a highway cruiser — even if the engine is a little buzzy as the revs climb.
While the Seltos can handle some light off-roading, it isn't going to do any rock crawling or be able to follow a Jeep Wrangler down the Rubicon Trail. However, the all-wheel-drive system provides good traction on gravel and dirt roads, and the torque vectoring helped keep my test vehicle heading in my intended direction on wet or slick surfaces.
Is the 2024 Kia Seltos a Good SUV?
In my opinion, the Kia Seltos was already an appealing choice in the competitive small crossover SUV segment, and the updates for 2024 have only made it better.
This relatively inexpensive SUV, with its refined styling and premium interior upgrades, has an upscale, high-tech vibe. The 2024 Seltos is also well equipped, making it a great value. Adding to the value proposition is a spacious interior with impressive passenger and cargo room. Any Seltos with a turbocharged engine is also enjoyable to drive.
What makes the 2024 Kia Seltos even more compelling, I think, is that it offers much of the power, utility, technology, and overall capability that the big-selling Honda and Toyota models do but at a substantial discount backed by an excellent warranty.