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Kia Seltos 2022 review: S

Kia Seltos S 2022 review: Does an affordable price make it a good family SUV?

The Kia Seltos S is a smart looking small SUV with a compact exterior that houses a surprisingly spacious cabin for the class. 

It’s an affordable entry for a small SUV but does a sharp price make it a good family option? I drove it for a week with my family of three to find out.

The model we drove was the S, which is the entry-level grade for Kia’s second smallest SUV and it had an optional Safety Package.

This combination will set you back $28,290, before on-road costs, or just over $30,000 drive-away, which makes it one of the more affordable entry-level SUV’s on the market, and a firm competitor for rivals like the Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona, Mazda CX-3, and Toyota C-HR.

To get away with its low price this model makes do with some more basic features like its 16-inch steel wheels (with hub caps), halogen daytime running lights and headlights, but it has more interior space than some rivals, which could be exactly what you need.

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What does it look like?

The exterior is quite pleasing. It looks robust in its shape but sleek in its lines, giving it a softly rugged appearance.

  • The Seltos looks robust in its shape but sleek in its lines, giving it a softly rugged appearance (Image: Dean McCartney). The Seltos looks robust in its shape but sleek in its lines, giving it a softly rugged appearance (Image: Dean McCartney).
  • The Seltos looks robust in its shape but sleek in its lines, giving it a softly rugged appearance (Image: Dean McCartney). The Seltos looks robust in its shape but sleek in its lines, giving it a softly rugged appearance (Image: Dean McCartney).
  • The Seltos looks robust in its shape but sleek in its lines, giving it a softly rugged appearance (Image: Dean McCartney). The Seltos looks robust in its shape but sleek in its lines, giving it a softly rugged appearance (Image: Dean McCartney).
  • The Seltos looks robust in its shape but sleek in its lines, giving it a softly rugged appearance (Image: Dean McCartney). The Seltos looks robust in its shape but sleek in its lines, giving it a softly rugged appearance (Image: Dean McCartney).
  • The Seltos looks robust in its shape but sleek in its lines, giving it a softly rugged appearance (Image: Dean McCartney). The Seltos looks robust in its shape but sleek in its lines, giving it a softly rugged appearance (Image: Dean McCartney).

The roof rails end in a little tail that immediately draws your eye and makes the roof line graceful. The windows are large and offer good visibility even through to the rear, which can sometimes be compromised on small SUVs.

Even though this is classed as a small SUV, it doesn’t feel ‘small.' I like the way the rear doesn’t slope down, because it isn’t much smaller than a Mazda CX-5, but its boxier rear gives the illusion that it’s bigger.

The wide grille, as well as the large front and rear lights add to the overall curb appeal and this design should age well, which is always good for a family car you intend to keep for a while.

How does it drive?

This model has a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine. I put it through its paces this week. It drives smoothly and is quick off the mark, which I especially like around the city.

This model has a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine (Image: Dean McCartney). This model has a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine (Image: Dean McCartney).

The Seltos S is zippy without feeling like a dodgem car. It's cruisy on the highway and easily keeps up with traffic.

I imagine drivers of differing experience, from learners to grannies, could find something to like about driving this car, which is commendable for a base model.

However, it didn’t perform as I would have liked during a wet test week. In heavy rain it didn’t feel like it was solidly on the road and the steering sometimes became shuddery at medium and high speeds, as if the wheels were struggling for traction. When wind buffeted the car I was fighting the wheel.

The Seltos S is zippy without feeling like a dodgem car (Image: Dean McCartney). The Seltos S is zippy without feeling like a dodgem car (Image: Dean McCartney).

Something that does make the Seltos S feel entry-level is the seats. The cloth is fine but leather or vinyl is much easier to clean when you have little fingers touching everything.

There’s modest lumbar support and after only one hour on the highway, my back was feeling it.

Maybe not the best for long family trips, or at least, plan for multiple stops to stretch the legs. It might not be a big deal for some but my family enjoys road trips and seat comfort is a big factor when we consider a car.

Having said that, the general driving comfort is pretty good in this model. The road noise does creep up a bit at higher speeds but it’s not annoying enough to impede chatting.

The suspension handles bumps and uneven roads well. You don’t feel jostled in this car when you tackle sealed country roads, which is a plus.

How spacious is it?

The interior is large for the class, with the wide body offering spacious front and second-row seating.

The interior is large for the class, with the wide body offering spacious front row seating (Image: Dean McCartney). The interior is large for the class, with the wide body offering spacious front row seating (Image: Dean McCartney).

Second-row space, in particular, is a highlight. There’s plenty of leg and headroom in the back, to make even taller occupants feel comfortable.

The second row's two-step reclining function is a plus because it offers a bit more flexibility for rear passengers.

Second-row space is a highlight (Image: Dean McCartney). Second-row space is a highlight (Image: Dean McCartney).

However, it's perplexing that a family car doesn’t have basic amenities in second or third rows. Take this model, there are no air vents, there's no middle armrest, no map pockets for storage, or even a USB port, which compromises comfort, particularly for younger passengers with limited reach.

Like my five-year old, for example. In hot weather I'd have to either roll down the back windows to get some fresh air on him or blast the air-con up front to help him get comfortable.

I consider these things for our family because an unhappy child just adds unnecessary stress to your day.

The middle console and glove box space are about average for a car of this size. There are also two cupholders up front, along with one bottle holder in each door in the front and rear.

The boot space is decent at 468L. The cargo floor can be shifted to a higher position if you’re not wanting to bend as much with the daily errands.

  • The boot space is decent at 468L (Image: Dean McCartney). The boot space is decent at 468L (Image: Dean McCartney).
  • The boot space is decent at 468L (Image: Dean McCartney). The boot space is decent at 468L (Image: Dean McCartney).

Or you can position it lower when you need to fit a pram and some luggage. The trade-off is that this grade has a space saver spare wheel, where higher spec models get a full-size spare.

How easy is it to use every day?

The dash has a simple layout with no nonsense dials but there’s some nice detailing with chrome and piano black finishes. It’s easy to use and gives off some old-school vibes.  

The reversing camera is crisp and clear and coupled with the rear sensors, this car is quite easy to park. I feel confident backing the Seltos into a tight spot or around a congested shopping centre car park. The size of the car is very accommodating around the city.

Surprising to not find a physical manual in the glove box, rather a 'Quick Information' flyer with a QR code to scan and download the manual… which is in two parts. Maybe not super appealing for the old school drivers out there but I guess it saves on storage space.

I wonder, though, if this might be a pain if you're ever stuck in the middle of nowhere without mobile coverage and need to access the manual for whatever reason.

Securing our car seat was easy, with plenty of space to manoeuvre it and myself. The top tether anchor points are easy to access, too.

My five-year old liked how easy it is to get in and out of this car, the height and the door were simple for him to handle.

How safe is it?

This Seltos S has the Safety Pack which costs $1000, and I think it should just come standard.

It has a maximum five-star ANCAP rating from 2019. This model comes with driver and front passenger airbags, front side airbags and curtain airbags for both rows. Some newer small SUVs have even greater airbag coverage.

Crash-avoidance features include front AEB (but not for the rear), active cruise control, 'Driver Attention Alert', a reversing camera and rear parking sensors, as well as lane keeping assist. Worth noting after a few days, I turned off the lane keeping assist as I found it too sensitive.

I do like the big windows in this car, though, because visibility is great and that’s always important for an SUV.  

There are two ISOFIX positions and three top tether anchors but you’re realistically only going to fit two car seats in the second row as the middle seat is narrow.

What’s the tech like?

The tech is a little bare bones but it's an entry-level model, so not too surprising. The 8.0-inch touchscreen feels modern and is easy to use.

The 8.0-inch touchscreen feels modern and is easy to use (Image: Dead McCartney). The 8.0-inch touchscreen feels modern and is easy to use (Image: Dead McCartney).

This model has wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as wired Android Auto with voice recognition.

Phone connection is easy and it's fantastic to have access to navigation apps as this model lacks built-in satellite navigation.

There’s not a lot of personality inside, so it's nice to see the 'crumpled-look' of the speakers which have a clear sound quality.

How much does it cost to own?

The official combined cycle fuel consumption figure is 6.8 litres per 100km, and during my time with the car, including lots of long-distance driving, I saw an average of 6.7L/100km, which is pretty good for the real world.

Kia provides a seven-year/unlimited km warranty, which is great for the class. You get 24-hour roadside assistance for the duration of the warranty when the car's serviced at a Kia dealership. 

Kia provides a seven-year/unlimited km warranty (Image: Dean McCartney). Kia provides a seven-year/unlimited km warranty (Image: Dean McCartney).

Kia also offers a seven-year capped price servicing program with servicing every 12 months or 15,000km.

Lowest yearly charge is $275, and the highest is $632, with the overall annual average over the seven years landing at $459. That's relatively high for the category.


The Wrap

Although this car feels more comfortable during fair weather, it’s a good size with plenty of interior space. It loses points for the lack of amenities in the rear seat and the basic tech, but for the practicality, drive and price this is a solid family car that’s worth considering.

Likes

Handsome exterior design
Large cabin space
Zippy and responsive

Dislikes

Missing some tech features
Unsure of itself in wet weather
Lane keeping aid isn’t graceful

Scores

Emily:

3.5

The Kids:

3

$27,290 - $28,290

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

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