That’s the consensus of our 2020 10 Best UX judging panel when it comes to the ’21 Kia Seltos, a first-year vehicle whose designers and developers mixed up a spot-on formula right out of the box.
The new subcompact CUV lives up to the adage that good things come in small packages – and in this case, at an attractive price, too.
User experience starts the moment you approach the vehicle, and the bold exterior styling of the SX Turbo all-wheel-drive test model stands out among vehicles in its size class. Credit an assist to its eye-popping Starbright yellow paint job.
Inside there are a few notable touches as well, providing the Seltos with its funky vibe, including the uniquely chiseled speaker grilles and mood lighting that pulses along with the music.
At the center of it all is Hyundai-Kia’s impressive infotainment system that hands down ranks among the industry’s best. And despite the test model’s modest $29,485 sticker, the Seltos offers the full complement of features.
Among them is a new Sounds of Nature app that sets the cabin mood with graphic displays in the center touchscreen and accompanying sound effects meant to evoke one of six scenarios: Snowy Village, Lively Forest, Calm Sea Waves, Rainy Day, Open-Air Cafe and Warm Fireplace. It might be just the thing to calm the nerves during a frustrating commute.
The booming 8-speaker, 400-watt Bose sound system – a first application of the brand for Kia – also scores points with our judges. Seltos’ rhythmic-pulsing accent lighting – a feature first spotted in the Kia Soul – adds to its youthful energy. A Sound Mood Lamp feature allows you to select from four color theme settings: Party Time, Hey! Yo!, Traveling and Romance.
Infotainment controls are displayed in a 10.25-in. (26-cm) touchscreen that is generously sized for this vehicle class. Here, icons are big, crisp and easily manipulated for a customized home screen. Connectivity through Bluetooth is quick and simple, and there’s onboard navigation as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The Seltos really shines on the user-interface front, with intuitive, easy-to-use controls. The HVAC system, in particular, with its clear readouts and grown-up sized buttons and dials, is “a magnificent exercise in functional economy,” notes one tester.
The Seltos SX offers a solid roster of standard driver-assistance features – and we like the way they perform. Included in the list are stop-and-go cruise control, forward collision warning, blindspot collision avoidance, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning and driver-attention warning.
“The ADAS feels human-like in its operation, which instills driver confidence in the systems,” one tester says.
Add it all up and the Seltos can stand toe-to-toe with most of the higher-priced vehicles on this year’s list. “It has all the ingredients for making a 10 Best UX winner,” sums up one judge. “It’s got style, it’s connected and it’s fun.”