Kia has had a stellar 2019 and hopes to keep the momentum going in 2020. Rebounding from a tough 2018, Kia found its way back to the top 10 best-selling brands of the year with 124.3% growth. It plans to keep surging forward with one of its newest models yet, the Seltos.
The Seltos is a subcompact crossover that slots just beneath the Sportage as Kia’s new, most accessible crossover model.
To get a better feel for the new vehicle, Kia invited us on a special test drive with a fleet of new Seltos SUVs to celebrate their first year under Ayala Corp. (AC) Motors.
With Baler, Aurora as the destination, Kia made sure each participant would get ample time behind the wheel of each of its three trim levels: LX, EX and SX.
It’s definitely an SUV that’s hard to miss on the road with distinctive styling cues, not seen in any of its competitors. The Seltos’ very unique façade is made up of Kia’s distinctive tiger-nose grille right in the center. It’s crowned by a broad clamshell hood. Spanning nearly the entire width of the hood are LED daytime running lamps. The topmost set of lights are actually turn signals while the headlamps themselves are tucked just under. Rather than compensate with large wheel arches the way its competitors do, the broad façade already looks muscular enough. It’s topped with a roof that looks like it’s practically floating. Behind is a sport hatch-inspired look with reverse lamps cleverly hidden in the rear garnish.
The Seltos not only looks big, it feels spacious as well. Kia says it is longer than any of its competition. That’s enjoyed by all the passengers in the form of spacious footwells for both the front and rear passengers, seats that hug your body, and great visibility all around. Rear passengers get a rear split folding bench with a two-step recline function, making it easy to settle in for a long drive.
Powering the Seltos is a 2.0L Atkinson Cycle gasoline engine that produces 149 PS and 179 Nm of torque. It is paired to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that was specifically designed to feel like a conventional automatic, particularly with the eight “gears” when in manual mode. To further enhance the driving experience, there’s three driving modes: Econ, Normal, and Sport.
The Seltos’s trim levels are fairly closely specced, with the top-of-the-line SX getting many of the toys and tech. The SX gets the exclusive black roof and mirrors, LED headlamps and foglamps, a power tailgate, push-button start, and cruise control. The lower trims don’t get some of these accessories, but they’re hardly missed what with all the equipment they already come with.
The three trims and the SRPs of the 2020 Kia Seltos are: LX at Php 1.098 million; EX at Php 1.198 million; and the top-of-the-line SX at Php 1.498 million.
To be frank, it seems like a steal no matter the trim, as each one was equipped with a multi-information display in the instrument panel, and an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
All models were a delight to drive thanks to the 2.0-liter engine and CVT; they returned snappy acceleration when needed, and efficient cruising while on the highway.
For the passengers, the built-in entertainment system was a treat, allowing us to hook up to two phones; one for hands-free telephony, and another for navigation and tunes via Waze and Spotify.
For those that simply want to catch up with old friends, the Seltos is also remarkably quiet. You really have to strain to hear the engine when it’s idling, because it’s so quiet, you’d think it was off.
For those that want to inject some excitement into their drive, the Seltos will not disappoint. It returns a sporty drive and amazing handling that is beginning to be a Kia trademark, just like our experience with models like the Forte GT and Stinger.
The lively surf town of Baler in Aurora is definitely for the younger set, but arriving there in the Seltos will bring out the youth in any driver. Kia’s new SUV will get your heart pumping in a good way with its excellent complement of features, lively response and handling, and standout looks.
Kia’s lively new direction is a sign that it’s serious about winning buyers back. With the Seltos, it’s a definite possibility.
By Iñigo S. Roces