2020 Kia Seltos Review: Get The Funk Up

Derryn Wong

Design and Appearance

If looks are crucial to you, this is the make or break bit.

Approach the Seltos without reading CarBuyer, and you’d surely think it a mid-or-large sized SUV. That’s because Kia has gone big on the styling, and for good reason: Style is one of the key reasons people choose SUVs to begin with.

As seen with the Soul SUV-MPV-thing, Kia has always had a flair for visually-fun cars, and the Seltos amps that up. The name ‘Seltos’ comes from ‘Celtos’, the son of Hercules – we suppose Hercules here is the gigantic eight-seat Kia Telluride (which is left-hand drive only) which is 2020’s World Car Of The Year..

To us, the dual-stack headlight/DRL clusters and the clam-shell style bonnet give a distinctly Range Rover-esque – and hence more rugged – flavour to the Seltos, which is something the competitors don’t have. Full LED lights and DRLs are a nice touch, with 17-inch wheels (probably GT Line specific) and red brake calipers. That, plus the fact that it’s the tallest car in the segment means it has a lot more road presence than you’d expect from a small SUV.

The downside is if you like your cars clean and elegant, the Seltos with its almost brutish face and plentiful details can come across as busy or overwrought, keeping in mind this section of the review is all about the eye of the beholder.

Interior and Features

The height of the Seltos doesn’t just give it more SUV stance, it also translates to good interior room. The seating position feels taller than other cars in the class, and the headroom is likewise generous. YMMV, but like styling, these are things that SUV owners now expect as part of the soft-roader experience – and not all small SUVs deliver on.

Once you get used to the (relatively) lofty heights, the interior is all Modern Kia.

That is to say, it’s built well and doesn’t at all feel cheap, is feature rich, and very hard to fault. This being the GT Line car, there’s a sport-steering wheel with red stitched leather and flat bottom but no paddle-shifters – more variants and pricing later.

Unlike the Cerato or Niro, the Seltos reinforces its vertical-ness with the infotainment and instruments both set into a monolithic, projection clad in piano black. The left side sees the 10.25-inch colour touchscreen system, which has Bluetooth and all the basic functions, but also Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The right side sees the dual-binnacle instrument panel with a large 7.0-inch active display in the centre, and there’s also a useful HUD atop that – the latter is a rarity in mainstream cars.

Other useful features include auto wipers, mirrors, and lights, rear sunshades, a sunroof, ventilated front seats, keyless, and a wireless smartphone charger. There’s also ‘oontz-oontz’ style music-matching-mood lighting in the speakers, a throwback to the Kia Soul.

It’s a decent haul, though our criticism is that in the S$110k+ price bracket, the air-con is single-zone only and there’s a lack of active safety systems.

There are six airbags and the usual plethora of alphabet nannies (ESC, ADB etc) but no forward collision alert/mitigation, blind spot monitor and the like, which put the Seltos at a disadvantage against cars like the Nissan Kicks and Mazda CX-30, or even its sister car the Kia Niro.

UPDATE: August 2020
Kia Singapore says new units of the Seltos GT Line will receive the larger 10.25-inch infotainment system instead of the 8.0-inch unit show here.

Page 3: Driving Experience, Space and Practicality:
Why the Seltos feels more powerful than other small SUVs 

Page 4: Competition and Pricing, Conclusion

Pages: 1 2 3 4


1.4 GT Line 5 seat 5-door Kia petrol seltos SUV

About the Author

Derryn Wong

CarBuyer's former chief editor was previously the editor for Top Gear Singapore and a presenter for CNA's Cruise Control motoring segment.

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