Pint-sized 2021 Kia Seltos crossover could be a great tech value

Kia already has plenty of crossovers in its United States lineup, but the Korean automaker is bringing one more in from overseas. Making its North American debut at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show, the 2021 Kia Seltos is already on sale in other countries. It hits U.S. showrooms in 2020.

The Seltos will sit between the Soul and Sportage in Kia’s U.S. lineup. That will effectively make it Kia’s smallest, cheapest crossover. Kia likes to consider the Soul a crossover because of its boxy shape, but lack of all-wheel drive makes the Soul more of a tall hatchback than a true crossover. The Seltos will give Kia a genuine competitor to subcompact crossovers such as the Honda HR-V and Hyundai Kona.

Seltos buyers will be able to choose between front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, and will have a choice of two engines as well. The base 2.0-liter, naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine produces 146 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated to what Kia calls an “intelligent variable transmission,” which is actually a continuously variable transmission (CVT). An optional 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine produces 175 hp and 195 lb-ft, and comes with a seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission.

The Seltos is expected to be relatively inexpensive, but Kia will still offer a decent array of tech features. A 10.25-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be available, along with an eight-speaker Bose audio system. This is the first time Kia has offered a Bose system. A long list of available driver aids includes adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, rear seat occupant alert, and a driver attention monitor. The adaptive cruise control system will also be able to automatically adjust speed based on posted limits, according to Kia.

Kia didn’t just bring the regular Seltos to L.A. It also unveiled two modified Seltos X-Line concepts at the show. Both concepts feature 2.0-inch lift kits, light bars, and other off-road addenda. As cool as it would be to see cars that looked like these in a showroom, the X-Line concepts are pure show vehicles that aren’t meant for production.

While a lift kit won’t be available, the 2021 Kia Seltos will go on sale in the U.S. in early 2020. Kia will offer five trim levels — LX, EX, S 2.0L, S 1.6T, and SX. Full pricing information isn’t available, but Kia said an all-wheel drive LX will start around $22,000. Kia also used the 2019 L.A. Auto Show to unveil a mildly updated 2020 Niro. Subtle styling changes are the only real updates for the Niro, which is available with hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and all-electric powertrains.

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