Jeep Cherokee VS Kia Seltos
- Standard safety now on point
- True off-road ability
- Much improved visually
- Cramped rear quarters
- Styling still a bit 'Murican
- Thirsty V6
- Great interior space
- Amazingly practical
- The right size for a lot of customers
- Optional safety stuff on base grades
- Hard plastic armrests on lower grades
- Steering not terrific
The presence of a strong medium-sized SUV is of vital importance to any mainstream automotive brand at the moment. And if you do have one, to get bums on seats it needs to be absolutely on point across the spectrum.
Jeep is, according to its masters, in the midst of a renewal, with all new vehicles expected across its line by the end of 2020. The next cab off the rank is the Cherokee – codenamed KL – which launched in Australia in 2015 to a less than enthusiastic reception.
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
This the probably the most anticipated new car in Kia Australia’s history. It’s the 2020 Kia Seltos, the brand’s first proper go at making a small SUV, and it goes on sale on October 25.
There have been prior forays into this market space before by Kia - the Soul could have been considered a small SUV, though it was a big old flop. The original Sportage was small, too - but it moved up in size over the years.
For years we’ve been wondering when Kia Australia would be able to fill the gap below the Sportage - one that has probably seen customers settling for a Cerato hatch until a new high-riding model arrived.
Can it deliver on expectations? Read on to find out.
|Engine Type||1.6L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
The latest Cherokee hasn’t resonated with buyers of mid-sized SUVs yet, but this facelift may bring some more potential buyers out of the woodwork – especially those looking for something with a bit of off-road ability.
Jeep is working hard to turn its reputation for poor service around as well, and its warranty and service plans are longer than those of the biggest Japanese players.
Would you prefer your SUV to have more of an off-road focus? Tell us in the comments below.
The Kia Seltos 2020 model range is packed full of surprises - the majority of them very nice, a few of them not so much.
The pick for me is the Sport+ 2WD model, which offers the stuff you want, the safety you should get, and all the drivetrain that most people will need.
We can’t wait to see how the Seltos compares to some of its main rivals in a comparison test later this year. Stay tuned for that.
Thank the Lord, the ugliness is no more. There’s a difference between unusual and terrible, and the previous Cherokee - in my eyes at least - had fallen out of the ugly tree and hit every single branch on the way down. Hard.
Jeep was all too aware that the challengingly styled Cherokee had a perception problem; in fact, Fiat Chrysler Australia chief Steve Zanlunghi told us that the number one reason people chose not to buy it was because of the way it looked.
So gone is the divisive split and inverted headlight design, replaced with something that is much more closely related to the Grand Cherokee. Narrow LED headlights and a classic seven-slot grille are complemented by a new lower bumper bar and LED daytime lamps, while there’s also a new composite bonnet.
New LED tail-lights and a composite tailgate join a new bumper skin on the rear, while roof rails are now standard, along with a push-open fuel door and capless filler. It now looks much more resolved, although the excess of chrome trim on the nose does age the car prematurely.
While the interior basics are still the same, Jeep claims it’s worked hard on the ‘touch and feel’ stuff; better quality plastics, bigger oddments trays and nicer trims.
Vinyl replaces cloth on the door cards, and the electronic park brake surround has been rejigged to increase the size of the phone tray, but other than that, the interior remains largely as it was.
The beauty of the Seltos isn’t its aggressive but stylish front end, it’s sleek and not too boxy profile, or its “Oh my gosh, that looks a lot like a shrunken Holden Acadia - but heaps better!” rear-end design.
It’s the way the designers have pieced this car together to work so well with the dimensions on offer that is the beautiful bit. It’s a compact SUV, but not as compact as many of the other cars in this part of the market.
At 4370mm long (on a 2630mm wheelbase), 1800mm wide and 1615mm tall, the Seltos is among the biggest small SUVs in the mix. It’s not that much shorter than a Sportage (4485mm), and is markedly larger than its brother-from-another-mother, the Hyundai Kona (4165mm), with which it shares a platform.
The big thing will be if it fits in with your lifestyle - an extra couple of centimetres of nose-to-tail length can be the difference between fitting in that tiny parking spot, or having to search the back streets for another 10 minutes.
But there are big practicality benefits of being just a smidge longer than your rivals. And if you want to get to the big-name competitors, the Mitsubishi ASX is 4365mm, the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is 4405mm, and the Nissan Qashqai is 4394mm. So the Seltos isn’t too big, and indeed could be the right size for the vast majority of people looking a compact high-rider.
Now, as for the rest of the design, I think it’s really good. It’s masculine but not macho. Stylish but not blingy. Funky, but not too funky.
Though it’s not all roses. While I can deal with the steel wheels on the base car - there’s a good chance a lot of those versions will be snapped up by fleets, and that’s not such a big issue - my design concern comes down to illumination.
This may matter to you, or it may not. But for me, the biggest letdown of the design is that Kia Australia has specced three of the four variants with halogen headlights and halogen daytime running lights. Yellow. Yuck.
It really cheapens the look of this brand new car, and makes it look old before its time.
As for the interior design? Take a look at the interior pictures below to make up your mind
Unfortunately, that doesn’t extend to more room inside the cabin. The second row of seats can be a cramped place to sit, especially if the occupants are even slightly taller than average.
Throw in a small rear door aperture and – if you have one fitted – a crazily low sunroof headliner, and the back can soon becomes cramped for teens and grown-ups. The seat backs can be reclined to help out here, though.
Bottles can also be added to the four doors, and there’s a decently sized centre console bin behind two front cupholders.
Front seat occupants fare well enough, with decently bolstered and supportive seats. However, the driver’s position is more than a little compromised, thanks to a huge, bulbous protrusion on the transmission tunnel that gets in the way of your left leg, and there’s nowhere to rest your left foot. Surely a plastic footrest for RHD markets wouldn’t be a big expense.
The wheel is comfortable enough, but could extend towards the driver another 15 or 20mm, and I inadvertently opened the powered tailgate a couple of times when trying to start the car; both buttons are round and located in places where such buttons should be.
Boot capacity has been increased by 84 litres to 784 litres by way of a two-level boot floor, though bear in mind this is measured via the SAE standard, and not the VDA standard used by virtually everyone else.
A full-size steel wheel serves as a spare for all variants.
This is a small SUV that’s going to be the right size for a lot of people because it isn’t so small. Weird, right? But the interior practicality of the Seltos is one of its biggest selling points - it’s among the best, if not the best, in the class for cabin space.
Let’s start at the back - the boot capacity is claimed at 433 litres for models with a full size spare wheel, where the entry-level version has an even bigger boot - 498 litres! - because the floor sits lower due to its space-saver spare. That’s phenomenal room, considering the size of the car - though what’s not so good is that the two lower grade models don’t get a cargo cover/parcel shelf (also known as a tonneau/cargo blind).
That aside, the space is flexible - the rear seat can fold down in a 60:40 fashion to allow 1393L of space. It’s a big, big boot, and will fit the needs of a lot of customers.
The back seat is spacious, too. The room in the second row is beyond what many of its rivals offer, with easily enough knee room, head room and shoulder room for someone my size (182cm, or six foot in the old money) to slot in behind a similarly sized driver. It’s exceptionally good.
There are some issues with the back seat, though. The top spec model is the only one that gets rear air-vents, and the only one with a back seat USB port, too. And lower grade versions don’t get a fold-down armrest, and therefore no cup holders. And there’s only a map pocket on top grade models, too.
Then there are the plastics: hard plastic backs to the front seats (good as it’ll stop your kids from kicking the fabric to threads), but a similar hard plastic is all over the doors in lower grade models, meaning you miss out on padded elbow rests front and rear unless you spend up on the dearer models. It may seem like nitpicking, but rest your elbow on a hard bit of plastic for a while and see if you come away thinking, “Yeah, that was nice!”.
Up front it’s the same - top models get padded elbow rests, the others don’t. The plastic on the dash is mostly hard, too, which is less of an issue unless you have a thing for touching the dashboard a lot.
There are cup holders between the seats, bottle holders in the doors, a decent storage area in front of the shifter for your phone and wallet, and the presentation is nice even if the materials could be nicer.
The big tick (for all but the base model) is that there’s a nice, big 10.25-inch touchscreen media system on top of the dash. It looks great and works really well, and even the base car (with the smaller 8.0-inch screen) gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming and USB connectivity (1x USB in the base car, 2xUSB in the others, plus wireless phone charging in the top grade).
All models get a digital driver information screen with trip computer and digital speedometer, and the instrumentation and ergonomics of the cabin are all spot on.
Price and features
Jeep claims it’s in a space called ‘access premium’ – think premium economy – that offers extra kit on its cars at a more affordable price. It sees itself rivalling the likes of the Honda HR-V and Hyundai Santa Fe, rather than the CX-5.
The updated Cherokee will maintain the status quo when it comes to the model mix, with the entry level Sport keeping its $35,950 (plus ORCs) price tag.
As well, you’ll also score LED headlights and tail-lights, a 7.0-inch 'Uconnect' multimedia system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, leather-wrapped wheel and gear knob, roof rails and a comprehensive suite of driver aids over and above the outgoing model.
It only has cloth trim, regular lights and wipers and single-zone air, though, so you’ll need to look at the Longitude ($41,950 plus ORCs) for more of the good stuff.
It adds AWD to the 2.4-litre four-cylinder powertrain, as well as auto lights and wipers, a multi-mode traction management set-up, powered front seats, parking sensors, a powered tailgate with foot activation (only if the wind is blowing the right way and Jupiter is in crescent moon ascending, if our brief and fruitless testing is anything to go by) and push-button start with keyless entry.
Add $5000 to get into the Limited, and you’ll get a proper low-range 4x4 drivetrain hooked up to a 3.2-litre V6 petrol engine, leather upholstery with heated and vented front seats, 18-inch rims, a larger 8.4-inch multimedia system with sat nav and a colour screen between the dash dials, along with adaptive cruise control and auto parking.
Topping the tree is the $48,450 Trailhawk, Jeep’s self-rated offroad-ready version of the Cherokee that complements the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee Trailhawks.
It’s the more rugged version of the Limited, and its triple-diff 4x4 drivetrain also includes a low-range transfer case, the ability to lock all three diffs, hill ascent and descent control, taller suspension, unique bumpers and underbody skid plates, offroad-spec rims and leather/cloth seats.
The Trailhawk makes up about 10 per cent of the model sales at present – given there’s only been 324 sold all year so far (as opposed to 16,000 for the CX-5), it’s still not a big number.
On balance, the Cherokee starts further up the ladder price-wise than its rivals, but there’s value to be found in the additional off-road performance – and the new additions have come at zero cost over the old car.
The Kia Seltos model line-up consists of four variants: the entry-level S grade (priced at $25,990 drive-away), the Sport variant ($29,490 drive-away), the Sport+ (from $32,990 drive-away) and the range-topping GT Line ($41,990 drive-away).
That's right - all models on the Seltos price list are drive-away deals. That means the national RRP or MSRP is the same, and you can be assured that you won't be stung by additional delivery and on-road costs.
Let’s run through them model by model.
The $25,990 S variant has an 8.0-inch touchscreen media unit with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, USB input, a six-speaker sound system, auto headlights, halogen headlights and daytime running lights, cruise control, a reversing camera and rear parking sensors. It rides on 16-inch steel wheels with covers, and has a space-saver spare and roof rails.
The $29,490 Sport adds a number of desirable features, including 17-inch alloy wheels, a larger 10.25-inch touchscreen with sat nav (including SUNA live traffic and 10 years of map updates), a second USB port, single-zone climate control, folding side mirrors, halogen front fog-lights, a full-size spare, and auto up/down driver’s window, auto window defogging, and ‘solar windows’.
The Sport+ is available with front-wheel drive ($32,990) or with an up-rated engine and all-wheel drive ($36,490). This variant takes what’s in the Sport model and adds smart key entry and push-button start, heated side mirrors, cloth and faux-leather seating, LED interior lighting, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, front parking sensors, a cargo cover. It also adds safety spec - read the section below for more info.
The top-end model is the $41,990 GT Line, which can be had with two-tone paint or a sunroof (but not both!), 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, LED front fog lights, LED tail-lights, LED daytime running lights, interior mood lighting, an eight-speaker Bose stereo, wireless phone charging, a 7.0-inch driver info display, head-up display, fake-leather seats, power adjustable front seats with heating and cooling, a heated steering wheel, auto wipers - and again, there’s additional safety spec.
There are some likeable elements to the pricing and spec equation of the Seltos, but there are some rudimentary shortfalls, such as a cargo blind and LED daytime running lights on lower models.
Engine & trans
The 2.4-litre 'Tigershark' engine makes 130kW and just 229Nm of torque, while the heavier 3.2-litre 'Pentastar' V6 offers up 200kW/315Nm.
All variants use the Chrysler-designed ZF-sourced nine-speeder, which has seen its transmission maps updated for this facelift.
There are effectively three drivetrain types; front- and all-wheel drive for the four-cylinder Sport and Longitude, and 4x4 for the Limited and Trailhawk, both of which use the V6.
The 4x4 system is 8.0kg lighter than previously, too.
Hill descent and ascent is standard on the V6-powered cars, while 'Select Terrain' offers up Auto, Snow, Sport and Sand/Mud settings. Trailhawk adds extra elements including a rock crawling mode, as well as a mechanical locking rear diff, and electronic locks for the centre and front diffs.
There are two engines available in the Seltos - both are petrol, and both are teamed to automatic transmissions. That’s right - there is no manual gearbox option, and there is no hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric or diesel Seltos available. Not yet, anyway.
The entry level engine in the 2020 Seltos range is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder ‘Atkinson cycle’ petrol engine producing 110kW of power (at 6200rpm) and 180Nm of torque (at 4500rpm).
This engine is paired to a CVT (continuously variable transmission) automatic, and is exclusively offered in front-wheel drive.
The top engine is fitted to the all-wheel drive versions of the Seltos. It’s a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder with 130kW of power (at 6000rpm) and 265Nm of torque (from 1500-4500rpm), and is paired exclusively to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
Towing capacity for the Seltos is 600 kilograms for an unbraked trailer for both 2WD and AWD models, while braked trailer capacity is 1100kg for the 2WD and 1250kg for the AWD.
Claimed fuel consumption figure for the smallest engine is 8.5 litres per 100km on the combined fuel economy cycle, 9.8L/100km on the V6 Limited and 10.2L/100km for the Trailhawk.
A 90km highway stint in the latter saw a dash figure of 12.1L/100km, while a similar distance in the Limited yielded 11.8L/100km.
All variants use a 60-litre fuel tank, and will accept regular unleaded fuel. The lightest Cherokee weighs 1590kg and the heaviest is 1889kg.
The combined cycle fuel consumption claim for the 2.0-litre CVT FWD Seltos model is 6.8 litres per 100 kilometres, which is okay for the segment. For what it’s worth, on test at the launch in Noosa over a mix of driving, we saw an indicated 7.3L/100km for this powertrain.
The 1.6-litre DCT AWD model claims 7.6L/100km, which is - again - okay, but not class-leading. On test, we saw 8.4L/100km indicated on the dash.
Fuel tank capacity is 50 litres, and the Seltos can run on 91RON regular unleaded petrol.
Over a 200km-odd drive route in the Limited and Trailhawk V6s, the Cherokee reinforces its position as a more rugged and ready SUV. It lacks the absolute precision and poise of more road-oriented rigs, but – and particularly in the case of the Trailhawk – shows its chops when the going gets a bit steep and slippery.
The V6 I sampled is adequate rather than enthusiastic, and it doesn’t make soul-stirring noises, but it’s linear and reasonably responsive underfoot. I found the throttle to be a bit sticky underfoot, which made smooth pull-aways a pain at times, but its relationship with the nine-speed auto is a good one.
The Cherokee’s electrically assisted steering verges on being too light and vague, but body roll suppression is really impressive, especially across the front axle, while ride quality is excellent.
A quick – or slow, in this case – lap of a genuinely rugged off-road course shows that the Trailhawk is more than a rebadging exercise. With bespoke bumpers, underbody protection and proper off-road tyres, the smaller form factor of the Cherokee Trailhawk would make for a very handy full time off-roader for a couple, if ultra-long range touring wasn’t a consideration.
The Seltos is one of the better compact SUVs to drive, all things considered. But let’s go through it in a bit of detail.
First off, let’s talk about the 2WD models, which have that 2.0-litre engine and CVT auto. Now, those three letters - CVT, which stands for continuously variable transmission - is often enough for some buyers to turn and run, but trust me, these transmissions are so much better than they used to be.
The engine is powerful enough for the vast majority of people’s needs - it revs nicely and gets moving from a standstill without fuss. The CVT is partly to thank for that, as it helps keep the engine in its sweet spot. And thankfully, it’s not too noisy or buzzy as it works.
Being front-wheel drive, it’s not going to be for everyone - but as Kia Australia predicts 80 per cent of sales to be this 2.0-litre FWD model, it’s going to be fine for almost everyone.
I found the steering to be sweetest in the 2WD model - lighter, more agile feeling than the AWD model, but still not quite perfect. It’s a touch heavy, especially when parking or negotiating roundabouts. The steering is a new system that includes a form of feedback and resistance when you return the steering wheel to the centre position, but it still doesn’t feel as natural or easy as some rivals.
The ride is mostly good, though still a bit firmer than some people might like at higher speeds on relatively smooth surfaces (smaller ripples on an otherwise smooth freeway upset the suspension more than they should have).
The 2WD model is definitely the more comfort-focused on the road, and that comes down the fact it is available either with the 16-inch steel wheels with 205/60 rubber or the 17-inch alloys, which have 215/55 low profile tyres, but not as low-pro as the 18s (235/45) on the top-spec GT Line.
Speaking of, that model suffers more road noise as a result of the more aggressive tyres, and the ride is adversely affected. It can feel a little too hard at times, and Kia Australia admits it “maxed out the hard points” of the chassis to achieve the character the company wanted for the Seltos.
Don’t get me wrong - it’s not harsh or firm to the point of being uncomfortable, but it could be softened off, I reckon. To me, it seems Kia Australia’s chassis and steering tuning team is placing too much emphasis on making cars to please reviewers and rev heads - a lighter touch wouldn’t have gone astray here.
The 1.6-litre turbo engine is certainly peppier than the non-turbo engine, especially in the mid-range. And while the transmission shifts smoothly and quickly at higher speeds, and will apparently learn your driving style - but I think it might take some human learning too, as it can be sluggish from a standstill.
Active forward collision warning and AEB, advanced lane departure wanring and rear cross traffic alert are now standard across the four-model line-up. Adaptive cruise is optional on the Longitude and standard on the Limited and Trailhawk.
LED headlights are also standard across the line, as well as six airbags, rear view camera with guidelines and parking sensors (from the Longitude up).
Jeep is currently in a wait-and-see situation with its ANCAP rating, which currently sits at a maximum five-star rating under last year’s rankings, but it expects to be issued a similar score from the safety body.
The Kia Seltos 2020 model range hasn’t yet been crash test rated by ANCAP - but based on the current stipulations around safety tech, you can expect a four-star rating on S and Sport models, and a five-star score for the Sport+ and GT Line variants.
It’s a similar thing to what happened with the Cerato. The entry level models come with a form of camera-based low-speed auto emergency braking (AEB) with car and pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist, and driver attention warning.
Kia has once again chosen to offer optional safety equipment on the entry S and Sport grades, priced at $1000. It consists of upgraded AEB (high speed with car, pedestrian and cyclist detection), as well as adaptive cruise control, Driver Attention Alert+, an electronic parking brake, electric folding mirrors, auto up and down driver’s window and 15-inch rear disc brakes (to accommodate the electronic park brake).
The Sport+ variant also includes blind-spot monitoring with intervention to stop you from merging into someone if you don’t heed the warning, as well as rear cross-traffic alert with auto braking.
And the top-end GT Line further adds “Safe Exit Alert” (warns occupants if they’re about to open their door onto a hazard) and “Lane Following Assist” (which centres the car in the lane more actively than the standard lane-keep system).
All models have dual ISOFIX child seat anchors and three top-tether points for baby seats. It comes with six airbags - dual front, front side, and full length curtain.
Where is the Kia Seltos built? For Australia, it’s made in Korea. China has its own domestic market version, and so does India.
As with all Kia models, the ownership program is hard to beat.
There’s a seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, which remains the best in the business. That plan is bolstered by a seven-year capped-price service plan with service intervals every 12 months (10,000km for the turbo, 15,000km for the non-turbo).
At the time of writing, Kia Australia hasn’t locked down its servicing costs yet. However, estimate about $380 per year on average for the 2.0-litre model, and $470 per year for the 1.6 turbo. That’s pretty high compared to other brands out there.
But you do get seven years of roadside assist included in the ownership plan, plus for models with sat nav there is 10 years of map updates, too.