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First Drive Review: 2021 Kia Seltos splashes into the market as a well-designed, right-priced SUV

The adventure-ready Kia Seltos has debuted to a long list of accolades.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

If you think the 2021 Kia Seltos has familiar looks, you're right. This all-new compact crossover has been crafted with the DNA of Kia's full-sized 2020 Telluride SUV. That's good news because the award-winning Telluride was lauded not only for its handsome looks, but also for its smart engineering and notable collection of standard features. Seltos is endowed with a similar set of attributes in a smaller footprint. It slots between Kia's Soul and Sportage.

Kia calls the new model "rugged, refined, and right-sized" and is targeting singles and couples from Gen X, Gen Y, and Boomer demographics who are seeking a mainstream utilitarian vehicle that is suitable for Costco runs and capable for modest forays into the backcountry.

2021 Kia Seltos Seltos is designed for adventuring but not true off-roading. Goats not included.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Seltos is available in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive versions, with a choice of two powertrains and six trims. It comes with Kia's industry-leading warranty.

The Korean automaker offers a clever value proposition for its based-priced Seltos model that retails for $21,990 (plus $1,120 for destination); buyers can choose the LX trim with less equipment and standard all-wheel drive or the S trim with more equipment and front-wheel drive; both are powered by a naturally-aspirated 1.6-liter engine. All other models are offered with the available AWD and a choice of the 1.6-liter or a turbocharged 2.0-liter; the top-of-the-line SX Turbo starts at $27,890.

Kia says Seltos, "punches above its class." Its styling, safety features, and wide array of technologies and comfort and convenience features give it the look and feel of a more premium vehicle than its low price point would suggest it is.

2021 Kia Seltos The interior of the Seltos is more refined than the one in the Soul.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Standard equipment includes an 8-inch color touchscreen, AM/FM/MP3 with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, voice recognition, drive modes, hill start assist, downhill brake control, traction control, automatic cruise control, tire pressure monitoring, six airbags, alloy wheels, driver's seat height adjuster, heated privacy glass at the rear side and tailgate, and two-step reclining rear seats.

A wide array of trim-specific and optional equipment is on board or available. Some highlights include:

  • 10-way power-adjustable seat with lumbar/heated front seats/leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shift knob;
  • 10.25-inch high-resolution color touchscreen (standard on SX trim level) with satellite radio, UVO telematics, navigation and split-screen display;
  • 8-speaker Bose premium sound system (first time in a Kia), with six color themes that echo the sound-connected mood lighting and change color and intensity based on volume level;
  • 12-volt power outlet, USB charging ports front and rear, and wireless charging;
  • Kia Drive Wise", a suite of advanced driver-assistance systems that brings collision warning, automatic emergency braking, driver monitoring system, blind spot warning and rear cross-traffic warning; pedestrian and cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability, lane-keeping and rear occupant alert.

Seltos sits upright at slightly over five feet tall and stretches to 172 inches in length. A pleasant blend of design attributes shape the exterior with robust and rugged cues comingled to upscale nuances. Kia's tiger nose honeycomb grille is detailed with diamond-like accents, while an aggressive lower front bumper and raked approach angle embolden the front. Skid plates lend a playful, off-road-ready attitude.

2021 Kia Seltos The Seltos's design makes it look road-ready.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The rear emphasizes its panache and power with sculpted dual exhaust pipes connected by a chrome trim and a chrome garnish that ties the tail lamps together. Most versions have projector beam headlights mounted between upper LED running lights and turn signals, and lower fog lights. Uplevel trims sport LED bi-function multi-focus reflector headlights.

Sofina leatherette either trims or covers the seats of the attractive and well-lit cabin that has good ergonomics for seating and controls; the easily-accessible infotainment system is positioned high on the dashboard. Seltos has more interior room than most rivals, says Kia; it's suited for four adults or three small-statured riders in the rear can bring the total to five. An adjustable luggage board in the rear cargo area expands stowage. Manual seats are standard in the base model, which is pretty normal for this size vehicle. Automatic seats are available in higher trims.

2021 Kia Seltos Kia has appointed the Seltos very well for its price point.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine produces 146 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque and is mated to a continuously variable transmission, while the available 1.6-liter turbo-four gets 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque geared by a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Drive modes allow for normal, smart (eco) and sport motoring; all-wheel-drive versions have a locking center differential that provides enhanced traction and torque vectoring for dirt or slick surfaces and improved handling for treacherous weather. Fuel economy ranges between 25 and 27 mpg city, 30 and 31 highway, and 27 and 29 combined, depending on the drivetrain.

On the road, the compact ute has a mannered ride and brings punchy performance with the turbo engine and dual-clutch transmission, when the throttle is pushed and sport mode is engaged. The SX trim offers good cornering grip, a responsive suspension, linear steering, and efficient brakes. An off-pavement track provided the opportunity to take note of the crossover's 7.2 inches of ground clearance and the impressive 28-degree approach angle. Although Seltos is not an authentic off-roader meant for extreme motoring, it has an impressive set-up for weekend adventures and wilderness forays.

2021 Kia Seltos The car has many design characteristics of the Kia Telluride.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The Seltos enters the SUV market as an immediate contender. Kia is riding high on the success of Telluride and producing a small, well-appointed SUV with similar styling that executes the mission it was made for well should be a recipe for success.

The 2021 Kia Seltos starts at $21,990 and tops out just below $28,000. That pricing is similar to the Hyundai Kona, which is arguably its closest rival.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The new Range Rover builds on the current 2020 Range Rover Sport SVR offering.

Photo courtesy of Land Rover

The 2021 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR Carbon Edition is the pinnacle of the Range Rover Sport lineup for the new model year. The SUV blends familiar details with stunning horsepower to up the ante for buyers.

The Range Rover Sport SVR Carbon Edition is part of the Special Vehicle Operations family of vehicles. It's a growing part of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) operation, with over 9,500 high-performance and luxury SV products retailed in the 2019-2020 fiscal year, up 64 percent from the previous year. JLR's best-selling SV SUV last year was the 575-horsepower Range Rover Sport SVR, which saw sales growth in its fifth year of production.

2021 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR Carbon Edition Land Rover offers the model with a powerful V8 under the hood.Photo courtesy of Land Rover

This take on that best-seller delivers more aggressive looks thanks to an expensive infusion of carbon fiber on the body of the vehicle. There's an exposed carbon fiber hood center section, front bumper insert surrounds, main grille and vent surrounds, as well as a range of other carbon fiber exterior design details, carbon fiber interior trim finishers, a carbon fiber engine cover and 22-inch Gloss Black forged alloy wheels.

The model is powered by a 575-horsepower 5.0-liter SVR V8 engine. The beating heart gives the car a maximums speed of 176 mph, the ability to get form zero to 60 mph in 4.3 second, and 516 pound-feet of torque. It gets 15 mpg in the city, 20 mpg on the highway, and 16 mpg combined.

Despite it's fancy looks, the all-wheel drive Range Rover Sport SVR Carbon Edition is just as capable off-road as its familial counterparts. It comes with a bevy of drive modes that improve vehicle dynamics depending on driving conditions as well as an air suspension at all four corners to help keep the riders comfortable and provides the ability to keep a low profile.

2021 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR Carbon Edition The model rides on standard v22-inch Gloss Black forged alloy wheels.Photo courtesy of Land Rover

Land Rover is pricing the model at $130,000 plus a $1,350 destination fee.

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The new package gives the three-row SUV a more assertive look.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Kia Telluride buyers will soon have one more option box they can check when ordering their three-row SUV. The company announced a new Nightfall Edition package that equips the model with black features, including wheels.

The 2021 Kia Telluride Nightfall Edition package is available on Telluride EX AWD (with Premium Package), SX AWD, and SX Prestige models covered in Snow White Pearl, Everlasting Silver, Gravity Gray, Ebony Black, Sangria, Black Copper, Dark Moss, or the new Wolf Gray paint job. Wolf Gray is only available to models equipped with the Nightfall Edition package.

The package only includes exterior elements. Its product list features a newly designed radiator grille with a black finish and 20-inch black-finished wheels with black lug nuts and center caps, which are Nightfall Edition exclusives. It also has gloss black roof rails, greenhouse trim, lower door side molding, skid plates, front bumper side air-duct garnish, and badging. The SUV's LED headlights and fog lights feature a black inner bezel (not available on EX) and body-colored door handles (already standard on EX).

"The Telluride Nightfall Edition offers a new choice to our customers who prefer a more assertive and premium look to their family hauler or weekend adventurer," said Sean Yoon, President & CEO, Kia Motors America, Kia Motors North America. "Our biggest and boldest offering's already lofty appeal elevates with the addition of this special package."

The 2021 Telluride Nightfall Edition will arrive in showrooms beginning in the second half of the year. Pricing has not yet been announced.

The SUV is made in West Point, Georgia alongside the Sorento, which was redesigned for 2021, and Optima, which has been renamed and redesigned for the new model year.

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