Kia unveiled the Seltos at the 2019 Los Angeles International Auto Show on Wednesday, November 20. While it’s a new model for North America, other markets have had access to it since summer of 2019.

The Seltos is the Korean brand’s latest entry in its crossover lineup. Slotting in between the Soul and Sportage, the Seltos is a compact two-row crossover on the same platform as the Hyundai Kona. Compared to its H-badged sibling, the Seltos is 8.2 inches longer: at 172.2 inches nose-to-tail it’s actually closer to the Sportage in length. That should make it a much roomier proposition, especially for second-row passengers.

Engine choices mirror the Kona lineup, with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder producing 146 hp and 132 lb-ft and 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with outputs of 175 hp and 195 lb-ft. These send their power to either the front or all four wheels via two transmission choices: a continuously-variable transmission (CVT) or seven-speed dual-clutch.

The Seltos features a big touch screen at the center of its interior, in either 8.0- or 10.25-inch sizes. It will also feature Kia’s full suite of safety features, including, emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control. Additional driver assists will be trim-dependent.

Kia will start shipping the Seltos to dealers in the first quarter of 2020. While it hasn’t announced exact pricing yet, Kia has stated the base LX AWD and mid-trim S FWD will both start around $22,000.

Kia Seltos Pricing

Kia’s increasingly crowded crossover lineup gives the Seltos a narrow bandwidth to work with. For 2020 the squared-off Soul starts at $17,490, with the compact Sportage at $23,990. There’s also the hybrid Niro, coming in at $500 less than the Sportage. (All MSRPs are before destination.)

Kia has stated buyers can expect to pay around $22,000 to get into either the AWD LX (base trim) or FWD S (mid-level trim) Seltos. This suggests a starting price of slightly over $20,000. With five trims—LX, EX, S 2.0L, S 1.6T and SX—we expect the Seltos to peak at around $30k all-in.

Read More 2018 Hyundai Kona Review and First Drive

Kia Seltos Features

The Kia Seltos comes with an 8.0- or 10.25 inch touchscreen infotainment system. On the top-shelf SX trim, this pairs with another 7.0-inch screen for the driver. (Other trims use a 3.5-inch display between the gauges.) Also included is Kia’s easy-to-use UVO system, which offers a range of smartphone pairing features as well as full Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. The system allows two Bluetooth connections at the same time, while the Kia Owner’s app lets people carry their audio preferences with them. An in-vehicle notification system also keeps buyers updated on areas like maintenance, warranties, and recalls.

The Seltos features a familiar pair of Kia engines: the 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated inline-four and the 1.6-liter turbocharged four-pot. Outputs are 146 hp / 132 lb-ft and 175 hp / 195 lb-ft, respectively. The larger engine hooks up to a continuously-variable transmission (CVT), whereas the turbo pairs with Kia’s seven-speed dual-clutch unit. Front-drive is standard, with AWD available on all trims.

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Kia Seltos vs Ford EcoSport

It might be a lot smaller, but in terms of price, Ford’s pint-sized EcoSport isn’t far removed from the new Seltos. It starts at $21,580 with destination, and you’ll want to add a few grand to that to get an interior experience that matches the Seltos’.

Given its smaller size and tiny 1.0-liter engine, you’d think the EcoSport had the fuel economy advantage. Truth is, it’s unlikely to: Ford quotes 27 mpg city, 29 mpg highway for its little crossover, whereas the Seltos’ platform-mate, the Hyundai Kona, boasts 27/33. Kia hasn’t released Seltos figures yet, but we don’t expect it to be too far off those.

Read More 2018 Ford EcoSport Review

Kia Seltos vs Nissan Rogue Sport

If there’s another manufacturer out there that knows about plugging gaps in its crossover lineup, it’s Nissan. The Rogue Sport showed up on the scene a few years ago, slotting in between the Juke—now replaced by the Kicks—and the regular Rogue.

The Rogue Sport and the Seltos are practically the same length at around 172 inches long. Both feature a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine hooked up to a CVT, in front- or all-wheel drive. They both start around the $22k mark. The Rogue Sport majors on safety with a suite of driver assist tech. So does the Seltos. Needless to say, these two are well-matched, and we’ll need to test them head-to-head to figure out the differences.

Read More 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport Review

Detailed Specs

Engine / 2.0L 4-cyl, 1.6L 4-cyl turbo
Power (hp) / 147 / 175
Torque (lb-ft) / 132 / 195
Transmission / Continuously-variable transmission (CVT), 7-speed dual-clutch
Price / $21,000–$30,000 (est)
Drivetrain / Front- or all-wheel drive