Like many automotive journalists, the Kia Telluride full-size crossover is high on my list of vehicles for its upscale British style and lush luxury interior. While an excellent value against its competition, if you’ve priced a Telluride, you know they aren’t exactly affordable for many drivers. The Kia Sorento and Sportage are also stylish, but can still post big stickers. No worries because the 2024 Kia Seltos brings all of that upscale vibe to a more affordable crossover.
Bold Upscale Styling
Styling of our SX trim level is more Sorento than Telluride, but there’s also a bit of Cadillac to give it an upscale look. The front is dominated by a mesh grille, thin horizontal LED headlamps, and light bar that stretches across. There’s plenty of gray plastic around the wheelwells and lower body to lend a hint of capability, but it all looks suave with its sculpted bodysides, floating roof, and sporty 18” wheels. Around back, lights that hint at fins and a full-width element could have come from any recent Cadillac. It all looks expensive.
The interior does too, but economies had to be made. The twin flatscreens, contrasting color seats, and redundant physical controls for climate and audio look like they came from an EV6, but the screens are a little smaller, seats are SynTex faux leather, and the automatic climate control only has one zone. Doors are mostly made of hard plastic, but stitched material on the doors and dash are ravishing. A power sunroof and rear hatch up the posh.
No economies were made on the rest of the interior. Our SX edition boasted Bose audio, leather-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel, and heated/ventilated front seats. Wireless phone charging, navigation, and easy connections with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included. The driver even gets power lumbar. Safety is enhanced with adaptive cruise, lane following assist, automatic emergency braking, and rear cross path warning.
Turbocharged Scooting Power
Putting the scoot in this baby penthouse is a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivering 195 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s all routed to the torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system through an eight-speed automatic transmission. Drive modes allow for quicker throttle response and sharper shifts for a sportier feel, or a more relaxed behavior to save fuel, but neither conjures a change in horsepower. Drive gently to see 25/27-MPG city/highway.
There’s nothing cheap about how our Seltos drives. There’s a bit of turbo lag on initial throttle tip in, but there’s plenty of power to move this little crossover with gusto when it spools up. Stomping onto freeways, slipping through traffic, or running flat-out on the Interstate provide little challenge. While front-drive models get a torsion beam rear suspension, our AWD employs a multi-link independent arrangement that flat embarrasses many more expensive models in its ability to absorb rough pavement and still provide agile handling.
I think the name is stupid, but the Seltos is not. It looks, feels, and drives every bit like a smaller version of its upscale siblings. There’s plenty of space for four passengers and their stuff and they’ll enjoy a cabin loaded with the latest technology. I even enjoyed driving it and parking was a snap. A super affordable base price of $24,390 rises to just $33,085 with every conceivable luxury option. Competitors include the Buick Encore GX, Ford Bronco Sport, VW Taos, and Subaru Crosstrek.
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