Kia Seltos small crossover packs rugged, downtown-to-desert refinement
Adding another model to its growing lineup, Kia today revealed the all-new Seltos, a small entry-level SUV that noses its way between the Soul and Sportage. The model stands at the opposite end of the Kia SUV universe from the Telluride debuted earlier in the year, but it learns from the Telluride's stout, upright design. The small-but-rugged Seltos is built to ride comfortably on everything from village-center cobblestone to backcountry grit. To highlight the duality of the build, Kia accompanied the production Seltos on the LA stage with two fully accessorized "X-Line Attack" concepts, one for city, one for desert.
We wouldn't have believed it a few years ago, but Kia has done a pretty good job of making the Telluride more rugged than the average family-hauler through effective design and advertising – we even spotted an overlanding version at Overland Expo West earlier this year. Kia tries to build on that success with the Seltos, giving it a stronger, more upright stance and longer wheelbase than you might expect from a small crossover.
The Seltos' semi-rugged presence starts front and center with a strong tiger-nose grille and approach-optimized bumper with skid protection. Kia works the long, thin LED headlights into the nostrils of the tiger, creating a distinctive gaze. Moving back, we see a strong hood and roofline, available chrome belt line, crisply outlined fenders with black cladding, and a tautly sculpted rear-end with a skid plate of its own. The car stands 7.2 inches (18.3 cm) over top the ground below.
Equipped with buyer's choice of 146-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder or 175-hp 1.6-liter turbo, the Seltos sends power to the front wheels or all four wheels with the optional on-demand all-wheel drive derived from the Telluride. That AWD adds a locking center differential and torque-vectoring capabilities. Features available to help the driver include blind spot collision avoidance, lane keeping assist, and smart cruise control with stop and go.
Inside, Kia has focused on offering plenty of passenger and cargo space. The rear row includes a reclining function for extra comfort, and the rear load area has a lowering luggage board to adjust cargo space. Available equipment includes a 10.3-in touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, satellite radio and UVO telematics, eight-speaker Bose sound system, and wireless smartphone charging.
Kia will launch the Seltos in Q1 2020 in five trims: LX, EX, S 2.0L, S 1.6T and SX. It'll announce full pricing information closer to launch but says that the LX all-wheel drive will start below US$22,000.
Showing the rugged and refined sides of the Seltos coin, the X-Line Trail Attack and X-Line Urban Attack concepts join the production Seltos at the LA Auto Show premiere. The Trail Attack features a 2-in lift kit, Hella auxiliary lighting, hidden front winch, custom roof rack, and off-road tires around 17-in alloys. The Urban Attack features a similar package, albeit with fewer Hella lights, gold wheels and a paint scheme inspired by city skyscrapers. Kia has no plans to produce either concept, nor would we expect it to pursue the SEMA-like builds. The concepts certainly appear ready to amp up the fun factor over the stock Seltos, though.