Caraganza Review 2024 Kia Seltos SX Turbo SX: Second verse better than the first

2024 Kia Seltos Pluton Blue

When Kia introduced its new Seltos small SUV during the 2020 Super Bowl, little did we know that the world’s attention would soon be on something called a pandemic.

By the time I had a week with one in July of that year we were in full lockdown mode, hoarding toilet paper and wondering just what the coming zombie apocalypse would really look like.

Thankfully of course, there was no apocalypse, though looking back on how much we’ve changed as a country I wish there had been. To be honest though, thinking about those in charge at the time I suspect all the zombies would have died (again) of starvation given the lack of brains of the politicians, and their followers.

But I digress; turns out I liked that Seltos. It was an upscale looking small SUV at a pauper’s price, in line with all Kia pricing and set to take on the rest of the market.

Sadly, it appears it hasn’t exactly taken the rest of the market by storm. In its first year Kia sold 46,280 of the then new Seltos; in 2021 there were 51,368 Seltos sold. And perhaps then the magic faded a bit because in 2022 44,897 Seltos’ found a home; that was a 12.6% YoY loss.

Kia seemed to react to all this. For the 2022 model, they made a slew of safety features standard including automated emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and automatic high-beam headlamps; The larger 10.3-inch infotainment screen was made standard on more of the Seltos’s trim levels, and all but the LX trim got automatic climate control and remote start, while the top-spec SX was fitted with a flat-bottomed steering wheel.

For 2023, Kia did little to the Seltos beyond adding new acoustic glass windshields and making standard the rear cross-traffic alert with automated emergency braking and a blind-spot collision avoidance system on its lowest level S trim which could have the larger 10.3-inch infotainment touchscreen with navigation optioned in.

Kia didn’t stop making changes, in fact they’ve gone even more ‘all-in’. I got a second week with the Seltos recently. This time a 2024 model. Kia has refreshed the styling of the exterior and interior featuring a new grille, reshaped daytime running lights, new wheel designs and a rear lightbar connecting the updated taillights. Inside there’s a panoramic driver display with an updated infotainment panel and dual 10.25-inch display screens with over-the-air updates for navigation and multimedia functions.

I again had the top-of-the-line SX which still has a bigger turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder but now makes 195 horsepower, up 20 horsepower from last year’s model. And the 7-speed transmission now has 8 gears. They also added the X-Line to the lineup that has rugged exterior styling.

When I first saw the 2024, I could tell the differences on the outside, while minor, were good ones. The lines are sharper, the grille meaner, and those reshaped LED running lights have more of a squint… they’re like two fierce scowls piercing through the darkness.

The inside refresh makes the Seltos an updated gem. The interior is filled with soft-touch materials, ergonomic design, and a smattering of tech toys that make you feel like you’ve just walked into a Silicon Valley playroom.

The 2024 Seltos SX Turbo AWD is like the 2021 model went on a strict fitness regime and emerged as an absolute powerhouse. It’s lighter, 3247 pounds curb weight as opposed to 3317; a bit shorter, 63.4 inches from 63.6, and 61.3 inches wide compared to 62 inches on the previous model. And while the 20 more horses under the hood do give it more oomph, it’s not like some sort of snarling beast, more like a rocket-powered penguin.

On the road the suspension has been dialed in well offering a very good blend of comfort and corner-carving tenacity. With the all-wheel drive this little SUV clings to the pavement like a leech on a mission and barrels through bends with the kind of enthusiasm that would put a Labrador to shame.

And those driver-assistance features take the stress out of driving leaving you free to focus on the important stuff, like accelerating out of corners with a maniacal grin.

Of course, the cherry on top of this perfect automotive cake is the pricing. The 2021 Seltos SX I had, had an as tested MSRP $29,485. The 2024 version of the same model has an as tested MSRP of $31,885. A modest increase given all the refinements over the ensuing model years, and the 2024 refresh. Kia continues to deliver the bang for your buck like a benevolent automotive genie. And I would easily advance the argument that it has done even better with this latest Seltos.

So far from Jan – Jul of this year Kia has sold 37,674 Seltos. In July, 4,961 were sold compared to 3053 the previous year. While not anywhere near the numbers of its rivals such as the Toyota RAV4 or the Honda CR-V, it is outselling the Soul, so it appears all these minor changes are working.  I hope so. Because the Seltos is a very good small SUV, and as it turns out is getting much better.

We no longer worry about hoarding toilet paper, nor a zombie apocalypse, and it seems we won’t have to worry about Kia dropping the Seltos anytime soon.

I am still hungry though.

The 2024 Kia Seltos SX Turbo AWD

MSRP: $30,560
MSRP (as tested): $31,885
Engine (as tested): 1.6 liter intercooled turbocharged I-4 195 horsepower @ 6000 rpm, 195 lb.-ft torque @ 1500 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed dual clutch auto-Shift Manual w/OD
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 25 city, 27 highway, 26 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested, mixed conditions): 29 mpg
Base Curb Weight (pounds): 3247

Exterior Dimensions (inches)
Wheelbase: 103.5
Length: 172.6
Width, without mirrors: 70.9
Height: 63.4
Front Track Width: 61.3
Rear Track Width: 61.9
Minimum Ground Clearance: 7.3

Interior Dimensions (inches)
Passenger / Seating Capacity: 5
Front Head Room: 40
Front Leg Room: 41.4
Front Shoulder Room: 55.5
Front Hip Room: 53.5
Second Row Head Room: 38.4
Second Row Leg Room: 38
Second Row Shoulder Room: 54.7
Second Row Hip Room: 52.8
Cargo Space/Area Behind Front Row (cubic feet): 62.8
Cargo Space/Area Behind Second Row (cubic feet): 26.6
Cargo Space/Area Behind Third Row (cubic feet): 26.6

5 Basic Years / 60,000 Basic Miles
10 Drivetrain Years / 100,000 Drivetrain Miles
5 Corrosion Years / 100,000 Corrosion Miles
5 Roadside Assistance Years / 60,000 Roadside Assistance Miles

Greg Engle