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2020 Kia Seltos S Review

Kia Seltos S with Safety FWD 2.0_EXT 1

For a base model priced at $25,990, Kia’s new Seltos S has tonnes of appeal for family buyers. Seltos is Kia’s version of the Hyundai Kona and looks at least as good.

It’s on a small car platform but Seltos feels like a medium size vehicle. It reminded me of Toyota’s RAV4 in some respects not the least being size and also the angular appearance.

The S driven was front wheel drive running a 2.0-litre, petrol, four cylinder engine through a CVT “auto” transmission. It offers surprisingly good performance from what is essentially a small hatchback engine with decent acceleration across the entire engine range along with 6.8-litres/100km fuel economy on regular 91 unleaded.

A five seater, Seltos is ”boxy but good” as they say with a distinctive frontal appearance and sharp edges to all panels coupled with a fairly generic-looking rear.

It has a reasonable amount of advanced driver assist technology thanks to the safety pack. You get autonomous emergency braking and lane keeping assist in the base model as well as auto headlights (not wipers) reverse camera and sensors.

The safety pack also brings goodies like adaptive cruise, blind spot monitor and driver attention alert+ to name a few.

It will tow 1100kg and but the spare is a space saver.

The front suspension is a fairly standard strut system while the rear is a rudimentary torsion beam that work well together offering up control and comfort in the 1355kg wagon.

Kia offer Seltos with some fetching colours including a two tone with black roof.

I’m seeing plenty of them around….


The square-set front has links to other Kia SUVs and as such is a handsome beast that follows the current sharp edge styling idiom. Slim multi-element headlights nestle under the leading edge of the bonnet stepping down to the large grille and secondary lights each side.

There’s a bumper of sorts and another grille/intake under that while the bonnet wraps over into the tops of the front guards.

Various side style lines and the roof rails accentuate the roofline which slopes towards the rear.

Kia use black plastic panels to the wheel arches and lower door panels to impart more of an SUV look to Seltos.

But the small 16-inch steel wheels with covers look somewhat cheap. I’d have thought alloys would be the same price as steelies and caps these days.

At the rear is a black plastic bumper with a large tailgate complete with integrated spoiler on the top edge and shark fin aerial.

A wide chrome garnish spans the width of the rear spearing through each tail light but there’s an air of familiarity to Seltos’s rear that points towards any number of competitor cars.  Whatever, it’s neat and attractive… no need to change that.


Inside is standard Kia meaning modern, functional and attractive in two tones of grey with metallic fascia to certain panels.

There are numerous controls on the fat steering wheel and Seltos’s dash is clean, well designed with no frivolities. Main focus points are the driver’s instrument pod including trip computer screen and a large monochromatic central touchscreen… standard fare these days.

As the base model, Seltos S has a chequered cloth upholstery to the firm and comfortable seats which offer plenty of adjustment in the front. The park brake is electric.

Access into Seltos is good thanks to the relatively high door openings and roomy interior for five. A decent size load space is provided down the back with a large hatch for access.

The rear seats fold flat doubling load space.

Overall a practical if generic interior.


Kia has equipped Seltos S with a generous amount of standard lit like;

Drive and Engine

Power comes from a 2.0-litre, petrol four cylinder rated at 110kW/180Nm…not a lot by any standard however, the vehicle’s CVT auto transmission does a good job of optimising performance and fuel economy as it always seems to be in the right ratio for any give application. Minimal CVT slurring is evident and you can manually select a “ratio” for additional acceleration.

It uses regular 91 RON fuel at a rate of 6.8-litres/100km, a figure we came close to on test.

The ride and handling package is fairly standard for a small SUV offering up a compromise between sporty dynamics and comfort. It’s certainly not mushy or loose when you’re behind the wheel and the brakes give strong stopping power.

Perhaps grip is limited only by the mainstream tyres that are pretty good all-rounders.

Some engine noise is evident when the CVT revs up driving uphill or when accelerating to overtake but that’s about it. In normal driving minimal noise or vibration is evident.

Kia says Seltos S will tow an 1100kg braked trailer which seems entirely plausible given the available power and vehicle weight of 1355kg.

I found Seltos comfortable on longer drives thanks to the supple suspension and well-padded seats.

Performance feels stronger than the 110kW/180Nm might suggest.


This one gets five stars with a decent array of primary and secondary safety kit along with some advanced driver assist technology like smart cruise control, driver attention alert and the more advanced autonomous emergency braking that recognises cyclists and pedestrians.

It has reverse parking sensors a reverse camera, lane keeping assist, side repeater lights and auto headlights. I still can’t come at lane keeping assist. Seems dangerous to me as it reefs the car away from your chosen trajectory. Might be OK for a distracted driver though.

Good Bits

Not So Good Bits


This car surprised me on a number of fronts not the least being the drive feel. It goes better than the specifications would suggest and is a practical, good looking family wagon. The price is keen and it’s full of safety kit. No wonder sales are strong.

Facts and Figures: 2020 Kia Seltos S

*MLP – Manufacturers List Price includes GST and LCT but excluding statutory charges, dealer costs and dealer delivery. See your dealer for RDAP. Does not include price of any options.


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