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Kia Seltos 2023 review

EXPERT RATING
7.8
The Kia Seltos has been updated from 2023 bringing with it a price change and new features, but is that enough to tempt you away from a Toyota Corolla Cross or Nissan Qashqai?

Looking for a small SUV that’s not tiny? The Kia Seltos could be that SUV, and it’s been updated for 2023.

This review covers the entire Seltos range and reviews this small SUV based on its safety, practicality, price and features, plus ownership costs, its fuel economy and what it’s like to drive.

So, if you’re thinking about a Honda HR-V, a Toyota Corolla Cross or something even as large as a Hyundai Tucson or Kia Sportage then you need to be thinking about a Kia Seltos, too. 

Kia Seltos 2023: GT-Line (fwd) (two-Tone)
Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency6.9L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$38,390

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

The price of the Kia Seltos has increased by about $2000 across the range, but you are getting more in the way of features. Let me take you through the model line-up. 

There are four grades: the entry grade S, then the Sport, Sport+ and GT-Line. Those are all available with the 2.0-litre petrol engine and front-wheel drive.

The Sport+ and GT-Line can also be had with a more powerful engine which is a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol with all-wheel drive.

So, the list prices for the 2.0-litre engine start at $29,500 for the S, then step up to $32,700 for the Sport, $35,800 for the Sport+, and $41,500 for the GT-Line.

Looking for a small SUV that’s not tiny? The Kia Seltos could be that SUV. Looking for a small SUV that’s not tiny? The Kia Seltos could be that SUV.

The 1.6-litre turbo engine is a more expensive proposition and in the Sport+ you’ll pay $39,300, and to pair it with the GT-Line grade you’ll need to hand over $44,900, before on-road costs.

Kia was also doing drive-away pricing at the launch of the new Seltos. So check with your dealership to ensure that the offer is still available.

Coming standard on the S grade for the first time are alloy wheels, they’re small at 16-inches but better than hubcaps, and there’s also roof rails.

Inside, there are cloth seats, an 8.0-inch media display, digital driver’s display, air-conditioning, wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto.

  • The Sport+ grade features 17-inch alloy wheels. The Sport+ grade features 17-inch alloy wheels.
  • Inside the Sport+ grade is a 10.25-inch media screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Inside the Sport+ grade is a 10.25-inch media screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
  • The digital driver display is the same size as the multimedia screen, being 10.25-inches. The digital driver display is the same size as the multimedia screen, being 10.25-inches.
  • Inside the Seltos Sport+ grade is synthetic leather upholstery. Inside the Seltos Sport+ grade is synthetic leather upholstery.

The Sport grade adds 17-inch alloy wheels, auto headlights, a 10.25-inch media screen and matching 10.25-inch driver display, digital radio, sat nav, climate control, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Sport+ has all the Sport’s features but brings a proximity key with push-button start, privacy glass, power driver’s seat, synthetic leather upholstery and extra safety tech which we’ll get to soon.

The top-of-the-range GT-Line has all the Sport+ features but adds a power front passenger seat, heated and ventilated front seats, sunroof and a power tailgate.

The GT-Line comes with the option of two-tone body paint, which is not available with the sun roof. The GT-Line comes with the option of two-tone body paint, which is not available with the sun roof.

The GT-Line also comes with the option of two-tone body paint - that is a black roof with 'Clear White' or 'Pluton Blue' body colours. Be advised that this combination is not available with the sun roof.  

The value is good, but I don’t agree with Kia’s decision to keep the LED headlights for the GT-Line only and leaving all other grades stuck with dim Halogen headlights.

Being able to seem clearly on dark Australian country roads at night shouldn’t be a luxury. Toyota offers LED headlights across the Corolla Cross range from the entry grade up.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

This updated Seltos has had a few styling tweaks, too. The grille is taller and  there’s a new headlight design which on the GT-Line is stunning with its LED running lights.

The rear of the Seltos has been restyled as well, with a new tail-light design and again on the GT-Line there’s an LED strip which runs between them.

The Seltos is pretty big for a small SUV. At 4.4m long it’s bigger than a Hyundai Kona and a Honda HR-V and about the same size as a Nissan Qashqai and Corolla Cross.

The updated Seltos has had a few styling tweaks, including a taller grille and a new headlight design. The updated Seltos has had a few styling tweaks, including a taller grille and a new headlight design.

What’s good about that is you’re getting more space inside with a package that’s still smallish on the outside.

If you think the Seltos’ look is familiar, then I agree. The Honda HR-V and Haval Jolion have very similar tail-light designs and the profile follows many of the same styling cues of the Toyota Corolla Cross.

To my eyes, though, I think the Seltos is the more refined looking of its peers with a more modern and interesting interior.

The Seltos is pretty big for a small SUV measuring at 4.4m in length. The Seltos is pretty big for a small SUV measuring at 4.4m in length.

Speaking of which, keep in mind that the top-of-the-range GT-Line’s cabin is far more fancy than the interior of the entry grade S. The GT-line’s large double digital displays are impressive and the buttons around the shifter for seat heating and ventilation are replaced with blank plastic panels in the S. 

Hard plastic armrests were another of my gripes about the previous entry grade Seltos, too.

Still all cabins have a premium look even if the feel isn’t luxurious throughout on all grades. 

The GT-line’s large double digital displays are impressive. The GT-line’s large double digital displays are impressive.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

Some small SUVs are seriously small, which might be fine for some, but if you’re hoping to also have enough space for passengers in the back seats, and a boot which can carry plenty of luggage then the Seltos is a good choice.

Even at 191cm tall I had more than enough room to sit behind my driving position with good headroom back there, too.

  • Cabin storage is also good with door pockets front and rear, and a deep centre console box. Cabin storage is also good with door pockets front and rear, and a deep centre console box.
  • If you’re hoping to have enough space for passengers in the back seats and a boot which can carry plenty of luggage then the Seltos is a good choice. If you’re hoping to have enough space for passengers in the back seats and a boot which can carry plenty of luggage then the Seltos is a good choice.

Cabin storage is also good with door pockets front and rear, and a deep centre console box. As for cupholders there are two up front on all grades, while the Sport+ and GT-Line get two more in the second row fold-down armrest.

Boot capacity depends on if you’ve requested a full-sized spare wheel or the space-saver spare. With the space-saver you’ll have more room at 469 litres, while the full-sized wheel under the boot floor will leave you with 433 litres. That’s still decent for the class.

The new Seltos has directional air vents for back seat passengers which is a win (motoring journalists had been complaining about the lack of them for years) and there are also two USB ports (Type-C) for the second row along with another two for those in the front, plus a 12V outlet.

Boot capacity depends on if you’ve requested a full-sized spare wheel or the space-saver spare. Boot capacity depends on if you’ve requested a full-sized spare wheel or the space-saver spare.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

The Seltos range has two engines to choose from: a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine making 110kW/180Nm and a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine producing even more grunt at 146kW/265Nm.

The 2.0-litre engine comes with a CVT which is a type of automatic transmission and the 1.6-litre engine has an eight-speed auto.

CVT stands for Continuously Variable Transmission and some people (me included) find the droning they cause the engine to make to be annoying. They also come with a feeling of less acceleration. 

The 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine produces 146kW/265Nm. The 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine produces 146kW/265Nm.

The good news is the eight-speed auto that comes with the 1.6-litre is a great transmission with smooth shifts and a sporty nature that matches the punchy engine. 

This eight-speed auto is welcome because it also replaces the jerky dual-clutch transmission that had been paired with the 1.6-litre engine in the previous Seltos.   

All-wheel drive is only available with the 1.6-litre engine while front-wheel drive comes solely with the 2.0-litre.

So, if you’re after great acceleration and better traction then the 1.6-litre is the way to go. If you’re not after a sporty driving experience then the 2.0-litre engine will suit you, and it costs less.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

The smaller engine actually uses more fuel, but not a great deal more. Kia says the 1.6-litre engine with all-wheel drive uses 7.4L/100km after a combination of open and urban roads. The 2.0-litre engine according to Kia will use half a litre less at 6.9L/100km.  

Both engines only need 'standard' 91 RON petrol, too - that’s the cheap one.

Where is the hybrid variant? Good question. The answer is, there isn’t one. And neither is one coming, I’ve asked. That’s disappointing considering the Corolla Cross comes with a hybrid version of each grade in its line-up.

It’s for this reason the Seltos range scores a lower mark for fuel efficiency.

Both the 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre engines only need 'standard' 91 RON petrol. Both the 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre engines only need 'standard' 91 RON petrol.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

The Seltos has the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating but that’s from 2019. Still, the advanced safety tech is excellent. All grades come with AEB, blind spot warning, lane keeping assistance and rear cross-traffic alert.

All grades also come with the rear occupant alert, which is great for sleep-deprived parents, and there’s also the safe exit feature which will let you and the kids know if a car or cyclist is approaching before you open the door and ruin everybody’s day.  

The Sport+ and GT-Line both come with AEB that works at intersections.

It’s good to see front and rear parking sensors standard across the range. 

The Seltos has the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating. The Seltos has the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

7 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

The Seltos is covered by Kia’s seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty

Servicing differs between the two engines.

A Seltos with a 1.6-litre engine needs to be serviced every 12 months or 10,000km and over seven years the average service cost comes to $497 per year.

A Seltos with the 2.0-litre engine needs to be serviced every 12 months or 15,000km and over seven years the average service costs comes to $434 per year.

Capped price servicing is good, but the prices can get higher than $600 for some visits.

The Seltos is covered by Kia’s seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty. The Seltos is covered by Kia’s seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

The Kia Seltos has two personalities. The laid back Seltos with a 2.0-litre engine and the enthusiastic sporty Seltos with the 1.6-litre engine.

Regardless of which Seltos you pick, the ride is comfortable, the handling is good, and the steering is excellent. 

The Seltos with the 2.0-litre engine is more laid back compared to the sporty Seltos with the 1.6-litre engine. The Seltos with the 2.0-litre engine is more laid back compared to the sporty Seltos with the 1.6-litre engine.

Kia says it's worked to make the Seltos’s cabin more insulated from road noise, but having driven it on country roads for hours I think it could do with more sound dampening.

If you’re considering the Sport+ grade and are not sure if the $3500 premium for the 1.6-litre engine is worth it, my answer would be absolutely, if you can afford it.

That 1.6-litre turbo petrol is a great engine and the new eight-speed transmission is excellent. Even as a daily driver I think anybody would enjoy driving this version of the Seltos more, and for those who like sporty driving then it’s definitely the powerplant for you.

Regardless of which Seltos you pick, the ride is comfortable, the handling is good, and the steering is excellent.  Regardless of which Seltos you pick, the ride is comfortable, the handling is good, and the steering is excellent. 

Verdict

Kia’s updated Seltos is more expensive than the previous version but it's better as well.

The entry grade no longer has hubcaps and gets alloy wheels, all grades have directional air vents in the second row, the jerky dual-clutch auto is gone and an excellent regular eight-speed auto has arrived, plus there’s more safety tech and modern displays screens.

What hasn’t changed is the Seltos’s size. It’s a big, small SUV, that’s easy to park in tight spaces but roomy inside even for tall, awkward humans like me. 

The sweet spot in the range is the Sport+ with the 1.6-litre engine, if only it had the LED headlights that only come on the GT-Line.

Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with meals provided.

Pricing guides

$39,990
Based on 88 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$33,918
Highest Price
$48,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
GT-Line (fwd) (two-Tone) 2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO $38,390 – 45,210 2023 Kia Seltos 2023 GT-Line (fwd) (two-Tone) Pricing and Specs
GT-Line (fwd) (sunroof) 2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO $38,390 – 45,210 2023 Kia Seltos 2023 GT-Line (fwd) (sunroof) Pricing and Specs
S (fwd) 2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO $26,070 – 32,120 2023 Kia Seltos 2023 S (fwd) Pricing and Specs
GT-Line (awd) (two-Tone) 1.6L, ULP, 8 SP AUTO $41,580 – 48,950 2023 Kia Seltos 2023 GT-Line (awd) (two-Tone) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.8
Price and features8
Design8
Practicality8
Under the bonnet8
Efficiency7
Safety8
Ownership7
Driving8
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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