2022 Kia Seltos

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2021
The Car Connection
2021
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
June 25, 2021

Buying tip

With newly standard automatic emergency braking, the base Seltos—in front- or all-wheel drive—becomes a bigger bargain and a better buy.

features & specs

EX IVT AWD
LX IVT AWD
Nightfall DCT AWD
MPG
27 city / 31 hwy
MPG
27 city / 31 hwy
MPG
25 city / 30 hwy
MSRP
$25,790
MSRP
$22,490
MSRP
$26,690

The 2022 Kia Seltos pairs a superlative warranty and a low price to step to the front of Kia’s small-crossover lineup.

What kind of car is the 2022 Kia Seltos? What does it compare to?

The Seltos anchors Kia’s crossover lineup with a five-seater with available all-wheel drive, which the smaller Soul lacks. With that feature and crisp styling, the 2022 Seltos also sports a smart base price of $23,665. Rivals include the Hyundai Kona, Kia Soul, and Subaru Crosstrek.

Is the 2022 Kia Seltos a good car?

Review continues below

It earns a TCC Rating of 6.2 out of 10, with a strong score in features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What’s new for the 2022 Kia Seltos?

This year the Seltos gains automatic emergency braking on every model. Seltos S, EX, and SX versions all have a 10.3-inch touchscreen standard as well as remote start, and a new Nightfall edition gets 18-inch black wheels and other blacked-out trim. 

The Seltos is only slightly larger than the Soul, but the two look quite different aside from the similar nose. The Seltos sits longer and taller, with crisp lines that give it a resemblance to some European hatchbacks (Skoda, to be precise). The angular fog lights and deeply creased hood set it apart, as do the blacked-out pillars that make the roof appear to float. Inside, the tame layout tips toward the driver with a pleasant and simple design capped by an 8.0-inch touchscreen on the dash of the base LX, a 10.3-inch touchscreen on all other models. 

A 146-hp inline-4 powers most Seltos crossovers. With a CVT distributing power to the front or all four wheels, it’s a tame application of a tame powertrain, with average acceleration that doesn’t hamstring its drivability. We can’t say the same for the 175-hp turbo-4 upgrade; its 7-speed dual-clutch transmission isn’t fluent at city speeds, and it likes to upshift early, which saps the fun. The Seltos’ available all-wheel-drive system helps it keep track of dusty trails; keep the steering in Sport mode to track interstates cleanly.

The Seltos seats four adults well, with a fifth seat possible if your friends are into compromise. The front seats could use more bolstering, but the rear seats recline for power naps—or fold away to boost the Seltos’s substantial cargo space.

For 2022, Kia’s made automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and automatic high beams standard; higher trims get blind-spot monitors and adaptive cruise control. Crash-test scores have been mixed, with a four-star NHTSA rating and a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS in conflict.

How much does the 2022 Kia Seltos cost?

It’s $23,665 for the base Seltos LX, which has all-wheel drive, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. A front-drive version costs a little more but adds a 10.3-inch touchscreen. For $29,165, the Seltos SX Turbo has all-wheel drive, adaptive cruise control, and synthetic leather upholstery.

Where is the 2022 Kia Seltos made?

In South Korea.

6

2022 Kia Seltos

Styling

The Seltos is part pizzazz, part puzzle.

Is the Kia Seltos a good-looking car?

The Seltos takes a new styling path that other Kias (like the Sorento) have followed, but it’s not an entirely clear one. The contrast-color roof and jaunty proportions work for us, but some details leave us puzzled. It’s a 6 here, with a point for the interesting bodywork. 

The hood and nose of the Seltos wear deep creases, and a wide honeycomb grille and headlights band it all together with vertical fog lights that give the front end some height. Down the sides, the Seltos has some blackout pillar trim that works for a contemporary “floating roof” effect, and a general similarity to the Volvo XC40. At the back, the Seltos fakes dual exhaust ports, and we have to ask, why? 

The asymmetrical dash cants controls toward the driver in the Seltos. Kia wraps it in a blend of hard black and glossy plastic and vinyl. Bits of chrome dress up the cockpit, but again, small details like glossy pieces of trim that glare at the driver throw it off.

Review continues below
5

2022 Kia Seltos

Performance

A shifty gearbox limits the fun in the Seltos.

The Seltos has decent acceleration and handling’s fine, but the turbo car’s indecisive transmission cuts into the fun. We base our performance rating on the non-turbo Seltos, and that merits a 5.

Is the Kia Seltos 4WD?

The Seltos comes in front-wheel drive in one inexpensive version, but all other versions get a simple all-wheel-drive system that can shift power from the front to the rear wheels to balance traction. It’s geared more toward any-weather traction and dusty trails than challenging off-roading.

How fast is the Kia Seltos?

Most Seltos hatchbacks develop 146 hp from a 2.0-liter inline-4 teamed to a CVT. Acceleration to 60 mph is estimated in the nine-second range, slightly better in front-drive models that weigh less. In the related Kia Soul, the same powertrain’s perfectly adequate, if not particularly speedy. 

Our Seltos drives have been in cars equipped with the 175-hp 1.6-liter turbo-4. It’s more energetic, to be sure—but its 7-speed dual-clutch automatic isn’t as refined as it should be. It judders through shifts at low speeds in city driving. It’s eager to upshift, which zaps the fun baked into its boost. It can be coaxed into playful acceleration, but it takes attention.

The Seltos rides more softly than expected, with noticeable body lean in corners. It’s tuned with a more compliant ride than the Soul hatchback, which doesn’t offer all-wheel drive. Typical for Kia cars, the Seltos has steering that builds up weight through its Eco, Normal, and Sport drive modes, but it doesn’t have much feel, and tracks best on the highway when toggled into Sport mode.

Review continues below
6

2022 Kia Seltos

Comfort & Quality

The Seltos is big on versatility.

It’s small, at 172.0 inches long and on a wheelbase of just 103.5 inches, but the Seltos has flexible interior space for five. It’s best for four and a few gym bags, though. We give it a 6 here, with a point above the median for its cargo room.

The Seltos is slightly bigger than the Soul, and like that other hatchback it’s a marvel of packaging. The front seats seem wide for its size, but they need more bolstering. Base cloth coverings can be upgraded to synthetic leather, but all front Seltos passengers have ample head and knee room.

Back-seat passengers also get good space; the Seltos can seat 6-footers behind other 6-footers, and the rear seats recline for better comfort on long rides. Still, a third person in the back seat, no matter their size, will be squeezed for shoulder space. 

The Seltos has a high cargo floor and a small tailgate, but behind the rear seat it offers 26.6 cubic feet of storage space. That expands to 62.8 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded down.

Interior quality settles in slightly above average. The Seltos cabin blends attractive materials with good fit and finish. Some hard and glossy plastics on the console and steering wheel seem off-key, but they’re the exception, rather than the rule.

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7

2022 Kia Seltos

Safety

Mixed crash-test scores limit the Seltos’s safety rating.

How safe is the Kia Seltos?

The IIHS calls it a Top Safety Pick when it’s equipped with automatic emergency braking (all 2022 Seltos crossovers have it) and LED headlights (only the SX has them). We give it that point, but take a point  away for a lackluster four-star NHTSA overall rating.

With extra points for newly standard emergency braking and good outward vision, it’s a 7 here.

The Seltos also now has standard active lane control and automatic high beams. EX trims and up get blind-spot monitors, while the Seltos SX Turbo gains adaptive cruise control.

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8

2022 Kia Seltos

Features

Newly standard safety elevates the Seltos’ score.

A good touchscreen and an excellent warranty boost the Seltos in our features rating, and this year’s addition of standard automatic emergency braking helps it to a score of 8 here.

Which Kia Seltos should I buy?

You’ll do fine with the base $23,665 Seltos LX, which has that safety gear plus all-wheel drive, 17-inch wheels, power features, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. If you don’t want all-wheel drive, the front-drive Seltos S is only $200 more and gets fog lights, remote start, and a 10.3-inch touchscreen. 

The $26,965 Seltos EX AWD sports synthetic leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, power front seats, and sunroof.

How much is a fully loaded Kia Seltos?

The $29,165 Seltos SX Turbo AWD spools up the features list with the best safety technology as well as a 7.0-inch driver information screen. 

Every Seltos comes with an outstanding 5-year/60,000-mile warranty. 

Review continues below
5

2022 Kia Seltos

Fuel Economy

The Seltos sips less fuel in front-drive form.

Is the Kia Seltos good on gas?

It’s better when it’s not outfitted with all-wheel drive. The most popular Seltos comes with AWD, though, and its EPA ratings of 27 mpg city, 31 highway, 29 combined merit a 5 here.

You’ll do better with a base front-drive Seltos, which is EPA-rated at 29/35/31 mpg. 

The turbo-4 Seltos gets relatively tipsy on fuel, with gas-mileage figures of 25/30/27 mpg.

Review continues below
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$22,490
MSRP based on LX IVT AWD
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6.2
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 6
Performance 5
Comfort & Quality 6
Safety 7
Features 8
Fuel Economy 5
Compare the 2022 Kia Seltos against the competition
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    6.0
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  • 2021 Chevrolet TrailBlazer

    5.6
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  • 2021 Hyundai Kona

    6.3
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  • 2021 Jeep Renegade

    5.8
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  • 2021 Subaru Crosstrek

    6.0
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2022 Kia Seltos Pricing Insights

  • 2021 Seltos is available; 2022s coming soon
  • Lease: From $189 per month for 36 months
  • Rebate: College grad and military deals
  • Finance: From 0.9% APR for 66 months
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