Behind the Wheel

2021 Kia Seltos Review: Asphalt-eating enthusiasm paired with comfort and convenience

The 2021 Kia Seltos is a fresh addition to the company's portfolio.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

You can learn a lot about a person by going on a road trip with them. Sharing a cramped space for days on end will bring out the best and worst in everyone.

Are they clean or messy; patient or not; tolerant of their companions' playlist picks or a more discerning musical connoisseur? All of this goes into whether a road trip partnership will be a success or failure. And there's a similar equation to be balanced with the other member of the road trip crew: the car itself.

2021 Kia Seltos Kia has made the Seltos stylish and given it unique paint color options.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

A proper road trip requires (ideally, anyway) a few things from an automobile. Decent fuel economy is always nice, as is ample cargo space for both your haul and supplies. Comfortable seats are a must, a decent stereo and convenient storage cubbies for drinks, food, phones, and whatever else must be kept close at hand.

Finally, the car must be a good companion — not too noisy and harsh, and definitely no complaining about the heat. Just smooth acceleration and an enthusiasm for eating up endless miles of American asphalt.

The new 2021 Kia Seltos checks every box.

The review car for my 1,700-mile road trip was the top-of-the-line Seltos SX Turbo AWD, weighing in at $29,485 after an extra $345 for the Starbright Yellow paint that was either a rather pleasing shade of dark yellow or an unfortunate sickly green, depending on the light. At least it photographs well, which is probably the point.

2021 Kia Seltos The Seltos is well appointed for a sub-$30,000 car.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Even for just under thirty grand, the Seltos SX was totally loaded with useful features: Automatic high beams (which seem silly until you have them, then they're essential); adaptive cruise control (ditto); active lane keeping; a large center touchscreen; wireless phone charging; a Bose stereo; and a full safety suite including pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring, and rear-cross-traffic alert. The only safety feature it was missing, somewhat weirdly, is automatic windshield wipers — a small complaint, really.

The center console, which is an essential part of road trip kit, is particularly well thought out. There's a bin just ahead of the shift knob that's the perfect size for both your smartphone and for storing bags of beef jerky or Skittles. Above the bin is a wireless charging pad, which, when combined with the USB cable that's required for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, lets you keep two smartphones charged up with ease. There are a pair of decently sized cupholders behind the shift knob, just fore of an armrest and storage bin that's perfect for holding a vast quantity of facemasks which you'll need to do just about anything these days.

2021 Kia Seltos Despite its size, the Seltos has a good amount of storage in the rear.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The Seltos is not a particularly large subcompact crossover, which is both good and bad, though it makes excellent use of the space it does have. This is certainly a car meant for a two-person road trip, but there is ample room in the back for kids if you're bringing those along. My traveling partner and I preferred to put a cooler on the backseat instead, which was easily reached by either driver or passenger.

The trunk is surprisingly roomy for such a small crossover, easily swallowing up my full size suitcase plus several weekender duffel bags, a couple of collapsable lawn chairs, and a case of water — all without obscuring visibility through the rear window.

The SX Turbo comes with a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, but it produces an easy 175 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque that is more than enough to keep things moving along. It was no problem to pass slow-moving trucks on the highway or to merge into traffic, and we easily exceeded the 25/30/27 fuel economy ratings. We averaged 30.7 mpg across more than 1,700 mostly-highway miles, which is particularly important in California, which has some of the highest gas prices in the country. And, though it has a turbocharged engine, the Seltos is happy with regular gasoline.

2021 Kia Seltos The 2021 Kia Seltos delivers enough space for kids in the second row.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

I wish the digital speed indicator on the instrument cluster was a bit bigger, and a sunroof would have been nice — that last feature isn't available if you get the black or white roof option. And dual-zone climate control might have been nice, though I wouldn't really expect it on a sub-$30,000 car. And to be honest, I can't come up with any other complaints.

The Seltos SX, with its small, turbocharged engine and eminently reasonable price, was our perfect vehicular road-trip companion. Quiet, practical, comfortable, and completely overshadowed by the grandeur of America's National Parks. Just as it should be.

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Electric vehicles

NHTSA looking into Tesla's in-car video games

Some owners have discovered that their car's video games work when the car is moving.

Tesla

Tesla's vehicles are among the most advanced and forward-thinking products of any kind, but serious innovation doesn't come with tradeoffs. The automaker has been in the news recently because of issues with how its advanced cruise control systems function, and now, Autoblog reports that the NHTSA is asking questions about Tesla giving drivers the ability to play video games and browse the internet while driving.

Tesla Arcade hands-on: the Model 3 is your video game console youtu.be

The feature is intended to be used while the car is parked, such as while charging, so the discovery that people can use them while driving is a serious one. Vince Patton, the person who filed the complaint with the NHTSA, tested his car and found that he could play Solitaire and a fairly involved action game while it was in motion. Internet browsing was also possible, meaning the driver could take their attention completely off the road ahead for extended periods of time.

Tesla Model 3 Tesla's screens offer advanced functions that many others do not. Tesla

Tesla was already under investigation over crashes involving its Autopilot feature. Several collisions have occurred between Teslas and emergency vehicles stopped on the side of the road. Following the initiation of that investigation, the NHTSA raised other questions with the automaker over a buggy software update that was pushed out, retracted, fixed, and reissued outside of the normal recall process. Despite their names, it's important to clarify that neither the Autopilot nor Full Self-Driving features are capable of driving the cars without driver awareness and input.

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Hyundai released pricing for the Ioniq 5 today.

Hyundai

The first of Hyundai's Ioniq-branded electric vehicles is almost here, and the automaker finally released pricing information. The Ioniq 5 starts off at a reasonable price and reaches deep into premium territory, but it's got the capability and the equipment to justify its price tag.

Hyundai Ioniq 5 Owners will get two years of free charging. Hyundai

Pricing for the line includes:

  • Hyundai Ioniq 5 SE Standard range with 168 hp and RWD: $40,925
  • SE single motor with 225 hp and RWD: $44,875
  • SE dual-motor with 320 hp and AWD: $48,375
  • SEL single-motor with 225 hp and RWD: $47,125
  • SEL dual-motor with 320 hp and AWD: $50,625
  • Limited single-motor with 225 hp and RWD: $51,825
  • Limited dual-motor with 320 hp and AWD: $55,725
All prices include a $1,225 destination charge. It's also worth noting that the Ioniq 5 is eligible for up to $7,500 in government tax credits, though the size of the final tax rebate depends on the customer's individual situation. Range estimates for the Ioniq 5 span from 220 miles for the SE Standard Range to 303 miles for other single-motor models. Hyundai's party trick with the new crossover is its charging system, which is claimed to replenish the batteries from 10 to 80 percent in just 18 minutes.

Standard features for the Ioniq 5 include 19-inch aero wheels, a 12.3-inch touchscreen with EV information, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, blind spot monitoring with safe exit assist, lane keeping assist with lane following assist, parametric pixelated LED headlights, flush door handle, and more. To ease customers' transition into EV life, Hyundai partnered with Electrify America to provide unlimited 30-minute charting sessions for two years following purchase.

Interior of Hyundai's Ioniq 5 revealed ahead of Feb. 23 debut automotivemap.com

Hyundai offers complimentary maintenance for up to three years or 36,000 miles, which includes tire rotations and other services. The car's battery and electric system are covered by a ten-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. The Ioniq 5 is scheduled to go on sale this month.

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