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2024 Kia Seltos Review: More Power, Better Looks, Shiny Colors

Fresh styling, more power, AWD, and some great new colors help set the value-oriented 2024 Kia Seltos out from the crowd.

2024 Kia Seltos Review(Photo/Kristin Shaw)
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Most midcycle vehicle refreshes are in name only, featuring small updates that give automakers a chance to give that model a little attention. Not so in the case of the 2024 Kia Seltos. With its first generation introduced for 2021, the 2024 version got a new look — including an additional paint color called Pluton Blue — and goosed the horsepower by 20.

This entry-level crossover is positioned between the Soul and Sportage and would be a smart choice for anyone looking for a moderately capable small SUV. Kia packs a lot of features into its vehicles, and the Seltos is no exception. Between the standard amenities and 10-year warranty, there’s a lot to like if you’re in the market for a compact crossover in the roughly $24,000-30,000 price range.

Kia says it created the Seltos with all-wheel drive because its dealers were asking for a Soul with that option. Rather than tack all-wheel drive capability to the Soul, the automaker opted to create a new SUV altogether. Launched at the beginning of 2020 before the world was turned upside down, the Seltos has survived a tumultuous time and is thriving in an increasingly competitive field.

Where better to test out the capabilities of an all-around crossover than the streets of Newport, Rhode Island, and the surrounding areas? We drove the Seltos from Newport to Providence and back to determine just how much difference that extra 20 horsepower would bring.

In short: The 2024 Kia Seltos is an honest entry-level vehicle that is more capable than it might look and represents an impressive value. It has improved power, looks, safety features, and bright new colors on offer for 2024.

2024 Kia Seltos


  • Vehicle 5-door, 5-seat compact crossover
  • Dimensions (length, width, height, wheelbase) 172.6”, 70.9”, 63.4”, 103.5”
  • Cargo (2nd/1st rows up) 26.6/62.8 cu. ft.
  • Engine (driven) 1.6L turbo inline-four
  • HP / Torque 195 hp at 6,000 rpm / 195 lb.-ft. at 4,500 rpm
  • Transmission / Driven wheels CVT/AWD
  • MPG 25 city / 27 hwy / 26 cmb


  • Cargo space is generous
  • Excellent value for the money
  • All-wheel drive option
  • Quieter ride than the previous model


  • Door pockets can only hold single-use plastic bottles
  • Climate buttons are spread out across the dash

2024 Kia Seltos Review: More Power

Under the hood, the base Seltos comes with an inline-four 2.0L engine making 146 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. Step up to the X-Line or top trim SX for the 1.6L turbo good for 195 horsepower and an equal number for torque.

Folks looking at the Seltos may also take a look at the Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona, and Jeep Compass. While all four vehicles start with a 2.0L engine, the Seltos compares about equally to the HR-V and Kona for horsepower, but the Compass comes out way ahead with 200 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque.

Manufactured in South Korea and assembled in the United States, Seltos sales are up 25% compared to last year. That means the smaller CUV is outpacing the larger Sportage and Sorento, a good sign for this vehicle. Kia told me that about 30% of Seltos buyers go for the more powerful turbo engine. That means the majority still go for the less powerful — and cheaper — trims.

Rolling Right

2024 Kia Seltos Review
(Photo/Kristin Shaw)

For the 2024 model, Kia tweaked the transmission to make it slightly smoother, which addresses a frequent criticism from the previous year. Kia’s setup for the LX, S, and EX goes by the initials IVT, which stands for intelligent variable transmission.

Where the often-maligned continuously variable transmission (CVT) can be noisy, the IVT is designed to more closely replicate automatic gear shifting and reduce the annoying drone CVTs perpetuate. Higher trims (X-Line and SX) include an eight-speed transmission.

If you’re looking for the Seltos with the best fuel economy, the front-wheel drive Seltos S or EX with the non-turbo 2.0L powerplant gets an estimated 28 mpg in the city, 34 mpg in the city, and 31 combined. In comparison, a Seltos SX with the 1.6L turbo and all-wheel drive is less efficient and gets 25 city, 27 highway, and 26 combined.

My experience on Rhode Island roads showed me that the Seltos is ready and willing to get moving on the highway and offers a pleasant, drama-free ride in stop-and-go traffic. Road noise was reasonably damped, and the seats were comfortable enough, although they would benefit from a bit more bolstering.

2024 Kia Seltos Review
(Photo/Kristin Shaw)


Kia’s second-smallest SUV is more off-road/rough-road capable than you might expect. It has a respectable 7.3 inches of ground clearance. That’s equal to the HR-V and more than a half-inch more than the Kona. The Jeep Compass, as one might expect, beats all of them with 8.1 inches of clearance.

Honestly, though, the Seltos is not built to tackle the Rubicon Trail or anything. It does, however, come with a free 6-month trial subscription to All Trails, which seems like a good excuse to explore.

The base Seltos LX starts with all-wheel drive (AWD) as standard. Seltos S and EX are available with front-wheel drive or AWD (for an additional $2,000). The X-Line and SX are offered only with AWD.

For 2024, the Kia Seltos’ gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is 3,925 pounds for the front-wheel drive variants and 4,212 pounds with AWD. That’s not a lot, but it’s enough to tow a teardrop trailer, a couple of snowmobiles, or a trailer loaded up with a few dirt bikes.

Subtle Styling Updates

Although the Seltos is an entry-level compact crossover, Kia did a great job giving it an elegance that overshoots its price point. Inside and out, this is a good-looking vehicle you can use to pick up a friend or even your in-laws with no shame. Hard plastics are kept to a minimum, but even where they are present, there’s a texture or shine difference that gives the interior of the Seltos more dimension.

2024 Kia Seltos Review
(Photo/Kristin Shaw)

For this updated model, Kia gave the tiger-nosed Seltos a slight facelift. It’s intended to look more “rugged,” and certainly you can get it dirty, which gives it a little extra character. The signature lighting is now integrated into the grille, giving it a more distinctive outline that’s apparent at night. On the previous model, the lights surrounded the grille instead.

2024 Kia Seltos Review
(Photo/Kristin Shaw)

The Seltos’ bumpers were retooled and the wheels are now available in four new designs. While you can get a Seltos in the usual shades of black, gray, and white, the CUV is also offered in a fetching Mars Orange and three shades of blue — including the new nature-inspired Pluton Blue — and four two-tone choices.

More Options Inside

2024 Kia Seltos

Even the base model of the Seltos sports a panoramic dual-screen digital display and the new digital gauges are also standard. Apple CarPlay works seamlessly and while I can’t personally vouch for Android Auto, I have no doubt that works just as well. Lower trims include an 8-inch infotainment display, and the upper two trims kick that up to 10.5 inches.

2024 Kia Seltos Review
(Photo/Kristin Shaw)

Kia came up with two new interior colors: Gentle Brown (for the EX and SX trims) and Midnight Green, which is limited to the SX. The standard cloth seats are fine, but the simulated leather covering the EX and SX variants is easier to clean and adds a more upscale look to the cabin. Whether you’re carting pets or children in the back seat, you’ll understand why that easier-to-clean part is key.

Those of you living in southern states will especially appreciate that ventilated seats are newly available as a package option on the top SX trim. Three-level heated seats are optional on the S and standard on the EX, X-Line, and SX as well.

Headroom is ample inside the Seltos. At 40 inches, it has 1.3 inches more than the larger Kia Sorento PHEV. That’s even a half-inch more than the Hyundai Kona, which definitely feels tall from the driver’s seat.

2024 Kia Seltos Review
(Photo/Kristin Shaw)

And when you’re packing the Seltos with your carry-on bags or gear for a camping trip, you’ll appreciate the 62.8 cubes of cargo space behind the first row. That’s also considerably more than the Kona and its 45.8 cubic feet with the second row folded.

2024 Kia Seltos Review: Summary

Kia threw a lot at the 2024 Seltos and it offers a whole lot of value for the price. Starting at $25,715, you’ll get AWD, cloth upholstery, and a suite of driver-assist features. Those include the newly added cyclist detection along with forward collision avoidance assist with car and pedestrian detection. Driver attention warning, rear occupant alert, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, lane follow alert, and high beam assist are all standard, too.

2024 Kia Seltos

I’ve seen Sorento plug-in hybrids that have only 6.9 inches of ground clearance (and even less with a skid plate) compete in the 8-day off-roading Rebelle Rally and place in the top three in its class. It would not surprise me a bit to discover that the Seltos is just as capable under its mild-mannered skin, especially with an extra 0.4 inch of clearance on the underside. Strap some traction boards to the roof rack and toss a tent in the back, and you’ve got a capable vehicle for mild off-road adventures.

The Seltos may look like a city and suburbs car, but I’ve seen its siblings rock some tough terrain and I’m confident it could handle it as well.

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Kristin Shaw

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