Expert Reviews

2024 Kia Seltos First Drive Review

Canadians are increasingly getting out of small cars and into their crossover equivalents, with little ones like the 2024 Kia Seltos part of the fastest-growing segment in the country.

It’s against that backdrop that the Seltos has been refreshed – and not too long after its initial 2020 introduction, either. It gets updates to its styling, new standard driver-assist and safety features, retuned suspension, and a quieter cabin. Its available turbocharged engine gets a power boost and a new transmission, too, while a new X-Line trim has been added to the top of the lineup.

New Looks and Features

The refreshed styling includes new head- and tail lights, with thin horizontal light bars between them; revised front and rear bumpers; vertical fog lights; and new wheel designs. Inside, there’s a new instrument cluster, redesigned dash pad and air vents, and smoothed-out seat cushions. Lower trims get a 4.2-inch digital dash cluster and eight-inch central touchscreen, with hard buttons for its menu on the side of it. In upper trims, both the integrated screens are 10.25-inch units, and the menu buttons are located below the main display.

All trims now come standard with blind-spot monitoring, emergency front braking, and lane-keeping assistance. New additions for the mid-grade EX include LED headlights and fog lights, while the EX Premium now gets the larger screen and memory settings for the driver’s seat. Meanwhile, the SX and X-Line get an upgraded engine.

New for the SX is a digital key, which lets you use your phone as the fob. That feature’s brand-new and comes with a three-year subscription, which means Kia will be announcing the renewal price closer to when owners will need to consider it. The new X-Line is an appearance package that builds on the SX and includes all its features plus black wheels, black exterior accents, and a gunmetal-colour grille and skid plates, along with uniquely shaped roof rails.


Tweaked Turbo Power

The LX and EX retain the same engine as before – a 2.0L four-cylinder that makes 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque. It comes mated to an automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT). The SX – and, subsequently, the X-Line – also carries its previous turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder, but it now makes 195 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque, the latter being a 20-hp increase.

That engine’s previous seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is gone, replaced with an eight-speed automatic. The dual-clutch provided quick-and-sporty shifts, but inherent to this type of transmission, it could sometimes bump a little when slowing down. The eight-speed is smoother and, as a Kia rep said, in line with the Seltos being more about comfort than sport.

I started my day’s drive in the EX. It’s a very comfortable vehicle – roomy and with supportive seats clad in faux leather upholstery, although you have to move up to the EX Premium to get power-adjustable front chairs. All trims receive more noise-dampening materials, and the cabin is noticeably quieter. The suspension has been retuned, and while the ride is firm it’s still smooth and comfortable. The steering is light and smooth, and the vehicle responds nicely to it. Overall, it feels solid but not heavy.

The all-wheel drive system that’s standard in all but the base trim primarily motivates the front wheels but can send up to 50 per cent of torque to the rear when extra traction is needed. It can be locked into that 50/50 split at low speeds by pressing a button, should you meet tougher conditions like deep snow or mud.

The base 2.0L is a good fit overall. It isn’t a powerhouse but has enough guts for everyday driving and passing, while the CVT is efficient and unobtrusive. Rated at 8.2 L/100 km in combined driving, it’s also a fuel-sipper compared to its turbocharged counterpart, which rings in at 9.1 combined.

It’s considerably more powerful than the 2.0L, but in most driving conditions the 1.6L doesn’t always feel appreciably more muscular since there’s a fair bit of lag between the time you put your foot down and the engine actually responding to it. It’s peppy once it does, and it’s definitely not a bad engine, but drive both of them before you decide.

Final Thoughts

On sale now, the 2024 Kia Seltos starts with the LX in front-wheel drive at $27,095, including a non-negotiable delivery fee of $1,900 – the overall price increasing by $1,500 over the 2023 version. Adding all-wheel drive to the LX is another $2,000. Then there are the EX and EX Premium that are priced at $32,095 and $35,395 respectively. From there, the SX is $37,695, and the new X-Line is $40,295.

The Seltos is a success story for Kia; the automaker says it accounts for one out of every four vehicles it sells in Canada. It’s now better-looking, still just as roomy and comfortable as before, and it’s a good performer overall. It has a lot of rivals in this popular segment, but the improvements this year should definitely help to keep it competitive among them.