Kia Debuts Seltos Small CUV, Refreshes Niro Hybrid

Due on sale in first-quarter 2020, the Seltos will slot between the Soul and Sportage in Kia’s U.S. crossover lineup, the automaker says.

Christie Schweinsberg, Senior Editor

November 20, 2019

3 Min Read
2021 Kia Seltos
Kia Seltos on sale Q1 2020 in U.S.

Kia stages the U.S. debut of its Seltos entry-level CUV today at the 2019 Los Angeles auto show.

The Seltos, coming in the first quarter of 2020, has a rugged bent in line with Kia’s new 3-row Telluride CUV.

“The Seltos arrives in the U.S. with modern styling and a penchant for adventure, whether that means everyday driving around town or in the wilderness on weekends,” Kia says in a statement provided to media ahead of today’s debut.

The vehicle, already on sale in Asia and India, is rugged not only in its appearance – thanks to flourishes such as skid plates and a front bumper design that provides for a sharper approach angle during off-roading, but the Seltos also has available all-wheel drive with torque vectoring and a lock mode “to handle more severe road conditions,” Kia says.

A center locking differential splits power 50/50 between front and rear wheels, while torque vectoring sends power to whatever wheel can best utilize it, to improve stability during cornering.

The sporty SX grade is powered by Hyundai/Kia’s 175-hp 1.6L turbocharged, direct-injected 4-cyl., mated to a DCT, while the LX and EX grades receive the automaker’s naturally aspirated 146-hp 2.0L 4-cyl. paired with a CVT. Buyers of the base S model can choose between the two powertrains.

The rear suspension also varies based on the drivetrain. Front-wheel-drive models have a coupled torsion beam axle and AWD models a multilink design; the front suspension is a MacPherson strut type.

Powertrain, drivetrain and steering mapping vary between normal, eco and sport drive modes.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, while available creature comforts include a 10.25-in. (26-cm) touchscreen, wireless device charging, a 2-phone Bluetooth system, 8-speaker Bose audio system and three USB charge ports.

Also available is a slew of advanced driver-assist system technologies packaged under the “Kia Drive Wise” moniker, including adaptive cruise control, blindspot warning and avoidance assist, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, rear occupant alert, driver attention warning and a highway driving assist feature. The latter automatically adjusts speed to the posted federal highway speed limit as known by the vehicle’s navigation system.

Kia’s UVO telematics service also is available on the Seltos, allowing, for instance, access to multiple stored profiles.

Interior features include standard 2-step reclining rear seats, fold-flat rear seats, a sliding front console cover on S, SX and EX grades, and fractal-pattern Bose2 speaker grilles with six mood colors, similar to those in Kia’s Soul subcompact CUV.

The Seltos is expected to begin around $22,000 for an S FWD grade or LX AWD.

The Small CUV segment has been one of the fastest growing vehicle groups in the U.S. in recent years, although sales rose a mere 2.0% through October vs. year-ago to 1.1 million units, Wards Intelligence data shows. The top three selling models – the Jeep Compass, Hyundai Tucson and Subaru Crosstrek, each with more than 100,000 deliveries – all lost sales in the period.

Kia’s Sportage, which Wards Intelligence places in the group, rose 5.6% to 72,727. Kia’s Soul resides in Wards Intelligence’s Lower Small car segment and its sales dipped 1.7% through October to 84,388.

Meanwhile, Kia also shows the refreshed Niro hybrid (pic below) in Los Angeles. Like Hyundai’s refreshed Ioniq hybrid also being shown in L.A., the Niro’s powertrain goes unchanged, but the car gets several styling updates including a tweaked grille, new wheels, headlights, fog lights and daytime running lights.

2020 Niro Touring front three.jpg

2020 Niro Touring front three

Kia improves the gauge cluster’s drive mode graphics and makes optional a 10.25-in. touchscreen (an 8-in. [20-cm] screen is standard). It also adds lane following, LKAS and high beam assist to the car’s Drive Wise ADAS package.

Pricing for the vehicle will be announced closer to its early 2020 on-sale date. An updated Niro PHEV also will arrive at that time with similar enhancements, Kia says.

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