The SUV market is booming, but not everyone can afford to spend a fortune on a new vehicle. That's why Cars.com conducted the 2023 Affordable SUV Challenge, where they tested six popular subcompact SUVs priced around $30,000 to determine which offers the best value, performance, and features. The winner of this challenge was the 2024 Kia Seltos SX, a stylish, spacious, and fun-to-drive SUV that impressed the judges with its long list of amenities, turbocharged engine, and dual-screen infotainment system. Here's why the Seltos SX deserves your attention if you're looking for a budget-friendly SUV that doesn't skimp on quality.
What Makes the Seltos SX Stand Out?
The Seltos is Kia's newest entry in the subcompact SUV segment, slotting between the smaller Soul and the larger Sportage. It debuted in 2021 and received a refresh for 2024 with updated exterior and interior styling, a more powerful turbocharged engine, and a new X-Line trim that adds some rugged flair. The Seltos SX is the top-of-the-line model, and it comes with a host of features that make it feel more premium than its price tag suggests.
One of the most noticeable features of the Seltos SX is its dual-screen infotainment system, which consists of a 10.25-inch touchscreen and a 7-inch digital instrument cluster. The system is easy to use and offers crisp graphics, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, in-dash navigation, and a Bose premium sound system. The Seltos SX also comes with a wireless smartphone charging pad, a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, faux-leather upholstery, LED headlights and taillights, a rear light bar, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Another highlight of the Kia Seltos SX is its turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, which delivers 195 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. This engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission that replaces the previous seven-speed dual-clutch unit. The new transmission offers smoother shifts and better drivability, especially around town. The Seltos SX also comes standard with all-wheel drive, which enhances its traction and stability in various road conditions.
The 2024 Kia Seltos SX is well-equipped, powerful, spacious and versatile. It offers more cargo space than most of its rivals, with 26.6 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 62.8 cubic feet with them folded down. The rear seats also slide and recline to provide more legroom or cargo room as needed. The Seltos SX also has plenty of storage cubbies and cupholders throughout the cabin and a smart key system that allows you to unlock the doors and start the engine without taking the key out of your pocket.
How Does the Seltos SX Perform?
The Seltos SX may not be the sportiest SUV in its class, but it offers a satisfying driving experience that balances ride comfort and handling agility. The turbocharged engine provides brisk acceleration and ample passing power while the transmission shifts smoothly and responsively. The all-wheel-drive system also adds confidence and grip on slippery or uneven surfaces.
The Seltos SX handles well for its size and height, with minimal body roll and good steering feedback. It also has a drive mode selector that lets you choose between Normal, Sport, Smart, or Snow modes depending on your driving preferences and conditions. The Sport mode sharpens the throttle response and steering feel, while the Smart mode adapts to your driving style and optimizes performance and efficiency.
The ride quality of the Seltos SX is generally comfortable and composed, although some may find it stiff over rough roads or bumps. The cabin is also fairly quiet at highway speeds, with little wind or road noise. The brakes are strong and easy to modulate, while the visibility is good all around, thanks to the large windows and slim pillars.