2024 Kia Seltos SX

The Kia Seltos represents great value in the subcompact crossover segment — even though it's hardly "subcompact"
The Kia Seltos represents great value in the subcompact crossover segment — even though it's hardly "subcompact"

by Nathan Leipsig | September 13, 2023


Vehicle segments are bizarre and don’t make any sense. I was thinking about this this week while I was re-evaluating the 2024 Kia Seltos SX, the beneficiary of a recent and substantial update. I find it bizarre that this little urban sport-ute, which can very comfortably seat four adults and carry all their stuff, is classified not even as compact, but sub-compact. It doesn’t make any sense.

Compact is supposed to be small, and sub-compact is supposed to be tiny. It’s made more convoluted by the fact that almost every manufacturer is splitting sizes, offering multiple sizes of vehicle in the same category. Kia, for example, has the very mature Soul and the very young new Niro alongside the Seltos, all in the sub-compact category. This is not to say it doesn’t entirely make sense, as the Seltos is very much on the big side of tiny and leans a little harder into the sorta-adventurous-lifestyle demographic.

The newest Seltos gains some significant new hardware that makes it a much more effective sorta-adventurous-lifestyle type of vehicle, chiefly in the form of a revised 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the upper trim levels. It gets a nice horsepower bump to 195 ponies, with a broad torque spread to match. To complement the added power plant, the Seltos gets a new eight-speed automatic transmission, a huge improvement over the iffy dual-clutch transmission that used to serve here.

The Seltos was always one of the better handling vehicles in its not-quite-subcompact class, and its competent chassis is joined by this new powertrain to make the pseudo-small Seltos a very impressive driver. The controls feel natural and allow for confident piloting, with the steering giving surprisingly good feedback and the brake pedal reassuring response. The engine is a refined, smooth little thing, with healthy passing power and a seamless transmission. It’s efficient too, using an average of 8.9 L/100 kilometres in our testing.

The Seltos is a fairly comfortable and quiet commuter. Added sound deadening and more hushed exhaust helps bring noise levels in line with its competitors, and although ride comfort errs on the taut side, it’s never harsh. Visibility is good, there’s plenty of room for people to go places with their things, and a very robust set of features and driver assists assures easy operation in all conditions.

Our loaded SX tester came equipped with damn near everything you could possibly want in a car, including powered, heated, and ventilated seats, a Bose sound system, navigation, a heads-up display, and excellent adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist systems, in addition to forward collision avoidance, blind-spot collision avoidance and monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and all-wheel-drive, among others. Higher trim levels also benefit from Hyundai and Kia’s new dual 10-inch screens setup making up the infotainment system and gauge cluster.

Said screens are the highlight of a revised dashboard design, tidied up to make the cabin look more modern and upscale. It succeeds at looking more upscale than it actually is; our tester’s new two-tone black-on-tan interior colour combo looks great and mostly feels of quality, save for extensive use of hard plastics for dashboard, doors and centre console. I personally didn’t mind, but my more nit-picky colleagues noticed. [What, you don’t constantly caress your dashboard and door panels?! —Ed.]

Other than that, there’s really not much to nit-pick here. The 2024 Kia Seltos SX, with its vastly improved powertrain and exhaustive feature list, is the one to have. It represents an impressive value at $35,795 as-tested. It’s practical, frugal, and comfortable; it drives surprisingly well with its new powertrain, and its updated interior and exterior tweaks make it rather good-looking, too, seemingly punching above its class. Its bizarre pseudo-small sizing schema may not make much sense to me, but everything else does.

See Also

2024 Kia Seltos X-Line

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross

2022 Hyundai Kona

Vehicle Specs
Subcompact crossover
Engine Size
1.6L turbocharged inline-four
Horsepower (at RPM)
195 at 6,000 rpm
Torque (lb-ft.)
195 lb-ft at 1,600
Fuel Efficiency (L/100km, City/Highway/Combined)
Observed Fuel Efficiency (L/100km)
Cargo Capacity (in L)
752/1,778 (seats up/down)
Base Price (CAD)
As-Tested Price (CAD)
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About Nathan Leipsig

Deputy Editor Nathan is a passionate enthusiast with a penchant for finding 80s and 90s European vehicles. He can typically be found messing about on his E28 5-series or on Kijiji looking for the next project. Current Toys: '23 Miata Club 6MT, '86 535i, '99 Beetle TDI 5MT