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2021 Kia Seltos debuts at LA Auto Show, on sale Q1 2020

Kia's affordable new Seltos might not necessarily stand out in a crowd, but its price and tech will make this SUV one to consider.

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The Seltos is more typical-looking than the Soul and sharper than the Sorento and that's a good thing.

Kia

To the casual observer, it could seem like small crossover SUVs are propagating like feral cats these days. That's why we were a little hesitant when we heard that Kia was getting ready to debut a new one on Wednesday at the LA Auto Show. But actually, the 2021 Kia Seltos makes sense in the company's lineup.

So, the Seltos initially got its debut earlier this year with plans to sell it in Asia, but Kia was acting cagey about whether the car was meant for the US. We had our suspicions that it might be, and those doubled when they invited us out to Seoul to drive the thing this summer. Now that it's been confirmed for the US, what's it all about?

Size-wise, the Seltos slots in neatly between Kia's Soul and the larger and more expensive Sportage. Aesthetically, it skews more toward the traditional SUV styling side of the continuum than the former, but it's edgier-looking than the latter. This being 2019 and all, you can also have your Seltos with a contrasting roof color.

The Seltos is powered by one of two engines. There's the naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes a reasonable 146 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque and is paired exclusively to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Your other option is a turbocharged, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 176 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque and is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The Seltos is also available with all-wheel drive.

The Seltos' cabin looks both well equipped and sensibly laid out.

Mike Cutler/Roadshow

Inside the Seltos, things are reasonably typical of a present-day Kia. The materials feel upscale for the vehicle's modest asking price (more on that later), and both technology and safety features are abundant, though some of the latter are optional.

Kia's perfectly usable UVO infotainment system is standard, and a 10.25-inch touchscreen can be optioned. Kia doesn't specify the standard screen's size, but we'd bank on it being somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 inches. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are standard, but things like wireless charging, multidevice Bluetooth connectivity and three USB charging ports are optional.

Kia's Drive Wise safety suite is along for the ride once again for those who want to spend a little extra cash, and we've found the system to be perfectly competent in vehicles like the Stinger, Soul and Telluride.

Drive Wise includes features like blind-spot monitoring, blind-spot collision avoidance, driver attention warning, lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, highway follow assist, rear occupant alert, safe exit assist and adaptive cruise control.

Kia plans to offer the 2021 Seltos in the US starting in the first quarter of 2020, with a starting price of less than $22,000.