Prince Edward County, ON
– In just three short years, Kia’s Seltos has become the brand’s best-selling vehicle. Last year, that translated to 25% of all Kia vehicles sold in Canada being one of the diminutive SUVs named after the son of Hercules. And while that may not surprise anyone – given its price point, size and the fact that it resides in one of the fastest-growing automotive segments in Canada – what’s most impressive is that the Seltos is the market’s leader.
To fend off competitors and stay atop the lists of Canadian shoppers, Kia has given the Seltos a fairly extensive refresh for the 2024 model year. The aesthetics have been tweaked both inside and out to be sure, but safety features and improved tech have been added, too. Spring rates, compression and damping have been re-tuned to deliver a better ride, the 1.6L Turbo-GDI found in top trims has been given a 20 horsepower bump and it transmits power through an 8-speed automatic transmission (instead of the 7-speed DCT).
With keys to a Neptune Blue ($250) SX in hand and plenty of empty, too-early-for-tourist-season PEC roads ahead, I forged out from the hipsterrific Drake Devonshire Hotel to explore the region and play around with the 2024 Seltos SX.
Pretty on the Outside
The Seltos has always had an attractive design, at least in my eyes. Short overhangs, taut lines and a pseudo-Hofmeister kink can go a long way. For 2024, very little has changed to its overall silhouette but I think the touches it has received work in its favour.
Up front, there is a lot less going on. Many of the unnecessary horizontal lines from the original have been binned. The bisected grill is gone and the gaping maw of black that remains delivers a simpler, less busy appearance. The front splitter gets a similar, simpler design and the foglights are no longer connected by black trim.
A similar approach was taken in the rear with a general “tidying up” of some overwrought elements.
All in all, it's a less is more approach that works to both modernize and mature the Seltos enough that I think it will age better than the original when the next refresh cycle hits.
An Interior that Works
The Seltos’ interior is well laid out and attractively presented. In SX guise (also standard on EX Premium models) the new, expansive dual 10.25” infotainment and gauge cluster is well integrated into the dash and offers crisp visuals. The touchscreen was a bit laggy in its response time, but fairly easy to negotiate. I was surprised to learn that both CarPlay and AndroidAuto are a wired affair in the upper trims, while the base EX gets wireless connectivity.
I am happy to note that beneath the central touchscreen display there are proper HVAC buttons and radio control knobs that muscle memory can easily log for less distracted drives.
The powered, heated, and cooled seats are well-bolstered and comfortable and the reach to the flat-bottomed steering wheel is easily tailored. Depending on your preferred setup, you may have to look over and around bits of the steering wheel for a full view of the gauges, but there is a head-up display for the essentials.
Rear seats can fit an adult frame and will also fold flat for an extra 1,000-litres of storage (1,778 down, 752 up).
I’m less impressed by the decision to push the all-black hue across nearly the entire fleet. There is a “gentle brown” interior option that does a lot of heavy lifting to lighten the mood inside, but it isn’t available on Neptune Blue models – in fact it can only be picked if you go with some boring shade of grey, white or black – which is both a shame and a crime against fashion. Black shoes with a blue suit? Trying to dress up like a bruise, are we?
Regardless, the insides are functional, comfortable and attractive. And, provided you’re willing to accept hard plastics over a steeper MSRP, it should serve drivers and passengers well.
Speaking of Drivers
Plant your right foot and the 1.6L Turbo GDI propels the Seltos with enough gusto to impress. The engine develops 195 horsepower (up from 175), matching its Hyundai Kona platform-mate. An equal measure of torque hits nice and low on the tachometer (1,600 rpm) and carries steadily until the ponies take over (4,500 rpm).
Pop the Seltos SX into Sport Mode and the eight-speed automatic transmission will cling to each gear just a little bit longer. The engine mapping feels a little sharper here too and, despite the few pennies it would likely cost at the pumps, is likely where I’d leave my Seltos for daily driving. It’s not that there's anything wrong with “Normal” mode, but the shifts did feel a bit muddled at points and if you can make something feel a little more alive with the touch of a button, why wouldn’t you?
The retuned suspension is on the firmer side for a small SUV. Bumps and imperfections are still absorbed without alarm or crash but if you prefer plushness over performance, this may not be your ideal ride. Personally, I found the handling to be better and more engaging than I had expected – as if some of Hyundai’s N-tech found its way into the Kia mix – which is no bad thing.
The steering is well weighted and there is some communication from the tires, but the system errs toward the numb side of things. The perforated leather-wrapped tiller packs just enough chunk to feel appropriately sporty and I’m a sucker for a flat-bottomed wheel. Essential controls for the radio and baked-in safety tech can be found at your thumbs.
The Seltos SX comes fully loaded with collision avoidance, lane keep assist, lane follow assist, blind spot assist (which are standard on all models) and adds cross traffic avoidance assist, smart cruise control and collision avoidance with junction turning as well.
Clearly, Kia had the recipe for success with its Seltos right from the start and Canadian consumers were quick to spot it. This mid-cycle refresh has enhanced what was already good (the looks, ride and handling), fixed what was most nagging (a lack of power and herky-jerky DCT) and tackled that with only a slight increase in MSRP (~$1,500) and a minor decrease in mileage. The only misstep I could spot with this Seltos was the lack of towing capability, especially in the “ruggedized” X-Line trim. But if the toys you bring with you are mostly stuffies for the kids or dog in the back seats, that probably won’t matter much at all.
2024 Kia Seltos SX
Body Style: 4-door, 5-passenger, compact SUV
Price as tested: $35,795
Engine: 1.6 Litre, Turbo, inline-4 cylinder
Transmission / Drive: 8-speed automatic / All Wheel Drive
Power: 195 HP / 195 lb-ft of torque
Fuel Economy (Premium Gasoline in L/100 km): N/A
Cargo Capacity: 752 litres (1,778 litres total)
Website: Kia Canada