PINEHURST, NC — June 3, 2020 —This weeks’ review is special in that this is the first 2021 car we have gotten to review. For those of you wondering, Yes, the car in our garage is the color of the one in this article. KIA calls it ‘Starbright Yellow’. The very nice man who operates one of the gates in our community said it looked like the color of something to do with babies. I’ll let your imagination run wild with that one. For those of you not attracted to this particular color, there are 11 additional colors from which to choose, most of whom a potential buyer might find more traditional. https://www.kia.com/us/en/seltos
Our Seltos was the SX model, but the KIA Seltos starts with the LX model, starting at $21,990 (let’s call it $22K) and goes through the S, EX, S Turbo, and SX Turbo to reach the top of the line. We have the SX Turbo, which comes in at $29,485 (let’s call that $29.5). The LX and S are both priced at $22K, the EX and S Turbo in the $25K range, and the SX Turbo starting at $27,890 (shall we say $28K?) Truthfully, the added cost for our car was primarily Inland Freight and Handling at $1120, but there was an additional up charge for the Starbright Yellow color of $345, and the usual culprit of Carpeted Floor Matts at $130. I don’t think I am hung up on price, and truthfully, a compact SUV for $21K fits my personal conceptual idea of cost for value, but when you get to right at $30K, you need a lot to make the smaller SUV saleable.
Having established the pricing structure, let’s look at the possible features on the 2021 SX Turbo AWD that make it worth the money.
First, standard on all the Seltos line is the S Turbo All Wheel Drive, 1.6L 4-Cylinder Engine with 195 lb-ft Torque with a 7-Speed Quick Shift DCT Automatic transmission. Most people know that cars come with two basic transmission types: manuals, which require that the driver change gears by depressing a clutch pedal and using a stick shift, and automatics, which do all of the shifting work for drivers using clutches, a torque converter and sets of planetary gears. But there’s also something in between that offers the best of both worlds — the dual-clutch transmission, also called the semi-automatic transmission, the “clutchless” manual transmission and the automated manual transmission. If you are a ‘gearhead’, go here for the full story – https://auto.howstuffworks.com/dual-clutch-transmission.htm Fascinating reading, but not for everyone.
Also standard on all the Seltos line is the Torque Vectoring All-Wheel Drive with Centre Lock. Most modern all-wheel-drive cars and SUVs already offer some type of computer-controlled, part-time engagement to save fuel. When the computer detects that one or more wheels is rotating faster than the vehicle’s speed or that the vehicle is yawing off its intended path of travel, the system steps in. First, it engages the other drive axle and applies a proportion of the vehicle’s torque to it. If the wheels continue to spin, the computer reduces engine torque or even brakes one of the wheels, if necessary.
According to <i>Popular Mechanics </i>– “In recent times, these systems have taken a fairly radical step forward. Automakers have reinvented front and rear differentials to the point where an engine’s torque can be passed around—or vectored—to each corner of the car. In other words, your torque can go from front to back like a traditional all-wheel-drive setup and distribute from left to right on a given axle—all very, very quickly. It’s like having a computer-controlled, super-speed limited slip differential in each axle. This means not only great foul-weather traction but also eerily competent handling performance on dry roads.
These new torque vectoring systems will undoubtedly join forces with the pre-existing ABS brakes, traction control, stability control, steering and rollover mitigation systems. The result will be smarter, safer and quicker vehicles, whether it’s on a rain-soaked freeway, a snowy driveway or a racetrack.” I decided to quote them because this is good, understandable writing, and we all want to know we are safer when driving an AWD vehicle. The ‘center lock’ simply means there is a button, in this case to the right of the gear shift, that, when pushed, fully engages AWD system.
The KIA Driverwise Driver-Assist Technology and Safety items are also standard to all Seltos models. Those include Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist Ped (for pedestrian), Blind Spot Collision Warning (BCW), Blind Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist-Rear (BCA-R), Rear Cross-Traffic Collison Warning & Avoidance Assist, Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), and Lane Following Assist (LFA), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Driver Attention Warning (DAW), and High Beam Assist (HBA). Most of these have been discussed in the past, but the Lane Following Assist was a new terminology for me, so I looked it up. My question, which I am sure most people have, is ‘what is the difference in Lane Keep Assist and Lane Following Assist? Lane keep assist used some form of radar to read the lines to the left and right of the car to ‘keep’ you from crossing the line unless you mean to do so. Simple enough. The Lane Following Assist uses radar, apparently centered above the windshield to read the lines left and right and try to keep you centered in the lane. Although the two seem to be a form of redundancy, I think this is one of the ‘next step’ progressions in autonomous cars – ones that will need to know what is both ‘beside you’ and what is ‘in front of you’, lane wise, as they monitor their own travel down the highway. Small steps as long was we are driving, but steps nevertheless. Also, under Safety comes Dual Front, Side and Full-Length Curtain Airbags; Electronic Stability Control (ESC); and Downhill Brake/Hill-start Assist Control (DBC/HAC).
Again, standard on all Seltos models are an 8” Touch Screen, Rear Camera with Dynamic Guideline, USB Multimedia Port, Heated Front Seats, Combination Sofino Leatherette and Cloth Seat Trim, Leather -Wrapped Steering Wheel and Shift Knob, Sliding Front Center Arrest, Rear Seat Center Armrest, Remote Keyless Entry, Steering Wheel Control (Bluetooth/Audio/Cruise), 60/40 Split-Folding and Reclining Rear Seats, and Dual-Level Cargo Floor. Exterior Standard features include 18” Alloy Wheels, Roof Rails, Fog Lamps, Updated Grill with Integrated LED Light Bar, LED Daytime running Lights and Tail Lights, Power Hated Outside Mirrors with LED Turn Signal Indicators, and a Compact Spare tire.
Now, having pointed out all that is included, we need to look at what sets the SX Turbo apart from the Standard Seltos features at $27,890 (Okay, $28K)
We have LED Headlights and Fog Lights, UVO link with navigation on a 10.25” display, Bose Premium Audio, Sound Connected Lighting, Sirius/XM, 7” LCD Color Instrument Cluster, Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go, Highway Driving Assist (more in a minute), Electronic Parking Brake, Sofino Seat Trim, 10 way Power Driver’s seat with power lumbar, Smart Key and Push Button Start, Remote Start on key fob, Wireless Phone Charger, Full Automatic Temperature Control, Auto-Dimming Rearview Mirror, Illuminated Sunvisor Mirror, LED Interior Lamps, Rear USB Charge Port, Rear Passenger Air Vents, Cargo Cover, and Safe Exit Assist. These are all included in the $28K price.
I wanted to take a minute to address Highway Driving Assist. Highway Driving Assist (HDA) is a driving convenience and safety system that reduces driver burden on highways and motorways by controlling the vehicle’s steering, acceleration and deceleration functions to maintain the speed set by the driver, keep a safe distance from the vehicle directly ahead, and keep the vehicle in the center of its current lane.
HDA uses navigational information to determine whether the vehicle is on a highway or motorway. When the vehicle is on a highway or motorway, HDA maintains the speed set by the driver or the speed limit of the highway or motorway. At the same time, it considers the lane information collected through its front view camera, and relative position and speed of the vehicle directly ahead computed using its front view camera and front radar, to control steering, acceleration and deceleration while keeping a safe distance from the vehicle ahead. The question here is “How is this different than all the other technology we have listed about the 2021 Seltos?” And the answer goes back to where I mentioned automated cars. HDA like LFA are examples of technology that are steps toward ‘self-driving’ cars. Every day, month, and year we get closer.
Final thoughts – at $22K, we like this vehicle. Laurie and I both thought the ride was good. I certainly like all-wheel-drive and got a chance to try it out on some dirt farm backroads after a major rainstorm where there were areas of run-off. Laurie was a little nervous until she saw how incredibly well this car managed. Handling, turning, back up camera, transmission, even the storage space in the back – all really fine on a car this size. Living here in Pinehurst, could I forego the additional almost $8K and probably just as happy? Yes. When you are pushing $30K on a compact SUV, you are probably going to do more shopping. It is worth it? Only the buyer can decide. But whatever you do, make sure you take a look at this jazzy, reliable compact SUV first.