Interested in a Kia Seltos S (FWD)?
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    Pros
    • Refined 2.0-litre engine
    • Spacious interior for the price
    • Rear air vents and USB-C ports
    Cons
    • Interior is cheap and nasty in places
    • Overly active safety equipment
    • Price rises hurt, even with more kit
    Specs
    6.9L
    110kW
    157g
    5 Star

    Even the cheapest Kia Seltos in Australia now costs more than $30,000 drive-away.

    At launch in 2019 the most affordable part of the Seltos range kicked off around the $25,000 drive-away mark. Now, the Seltos S you see here will set you back $31,690 drive-away.

    Yes, new cars have become more expensive across the board, but a $5000 increase in four years is steep no matter which way you look at it. Of course, Kia has made some changes to justify that price hike.

    The updated Seltos you see here has a more modern interior than before, new looks, and some extra equipment compared to the car it replaces. The optional Safety Pack is now standard (always a good move), and you now get rear air vents and USB charge points.

    WATCH: Paul’s video review of the Seltos GT-Line 1.6T AWD

    On the other hand, it still features the same engine and transmission as before…

    Is the basic Seltos still a smart buy in 2023?

    How does the Kia Seltos fare vs its competitors?
    View a detailed breakdown of the Kia Seltos against similarly sized vehicles.

    How much does the Kia Seltos cost?

    The base Seltos S is the only model in the range below $30,000 before on-road costs, with a sticker of $29,500.

    Kia’s current drive-away price for the car is $31,690. That drive-away price means it undercuts the base Hyundai Kona (~$35,000 drive-away) or Nissan Qashqai (~$37,000 drive-away).

    Instead, it’s more closely aligned with the Hyundai Venue Elite (~$32,600 drive-away).

    • 2023 Kia Seltos S 2.0 FWD: $29,500 ($31,690 drive-away)
    • 2023 Kia Seltos Sport 2.0 FWD: $32,700 ($35,390 drive-away)
    • 2023 Kia Seltos Sport+ 2.0 FWD: $35,800 ($38,490 drive-away)
    • 2023 Kia Seltos Sport+ 1.6T AWD: $39,300 ($41,990 drive-away)
    • 2023 Kia Seltos GT-Line 2.0 FWD: $41,500 ($44,590 drive-away)
    • 2023 Kia Seltos GT-Line 1.6T AWD: $44,900 ($47,690 drive-away)

    All prices are before on-road costs.

    What is the Kia Seltos like on the inside?

    If the little wheels didn’t give it away on the outside, the amount of hard plastic and the lack of padding in key places will make clear this is a base model. There’s also the fact you turn a key to start this model…

    The steering wheel is a urethane unit, there’s a mechanical handbrake, and the elbow rest on the door is finished in hard plastic instead of the friendlier padding offered higher up the range. It’s functional and well equipped, but the Sport sitting above it in the range is a much nicer place to sit on long trips.

    The fundamentals are solid. The driver and passenger sit in generously padded front seats with a good range of adjustment for taller drivers, and the view out of the upright windows is excellent.

    Unlike higher-end models in the range, the base Seltos gets an 8.0-inch infotainment system flanked by shortcut buttons.

    It’s functional, with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (this car doesn’t have factory satellite navigation) along with AM/FM and DAB radio, and the wireless smartphone mirroring is far more reliable than it was at launch.

    Although the more expensive models have flashier graphics and bigger screens, the only thing you’re really missing out on in the S is factory satellite navigation.

    The amount of storage on offer is good. There’s a shelf under the centre stack large enough for an oversized phone or wallet, along with adequately-sized cupholders between the front seats, and a fairly deep console bin. The door bins are on the shallower side.

    One USB-A and one USB-C port feature up front, along with a 12V plug. There’s no wireless charging in the Seltos S.

    The rear seats have been improved since the Seltos’ debut. Thanks to a range reshuffle from late 2022, the S features USB-C ports and air vents back there – a win for kids on hot summer days Down Under. Previously, those features were reserved for the GT-Line.

    This is a bigger take on the small SUV formula, with lots of legroom and headroom for passengers in the rear seats.

    The wide-opening rear doors and tall windows make this one of the better small SUVs out there for families with tight parking spaces, and mean you’ll more easily be able to load children or bulky child seats than in some rivals.

    You get two ISOFIX points and a trio of top tethers back there.

    When we first drove the Seltos it was a bit of an outlier, but the competition has caught up. The new Hyundai Kona is bigger than before, as is the new Nissan Qashqai. In that context the Seltos is still good, but it’s not quite the standout it once was.

    Claimed boot space is 468 litres, up 35 litres on what’s on offer elsewhere in the Seltos range. That’s because the S gets a space saver spare wheel instead of a full-sized spare.

    Folding the rear bench (60/40) expands that to 1428 litres.

    What’s under the bonnet?

    The 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine in the Seltos S carries over from the pre-update model, and produces 110kW of power and 180Nm of torque.

    The engine is mated to a continuously-variable transmission (CVT), with drive sent to the front wheels only. If you want all-wheel drive you’ll need to opt for a higher-spec model with a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine.

    The 2023 Kia Seltos uses a claimed 6.9L/100km on the ADR combined cycle with the 2.0-litre engine; we saw 8.1 litres per 100km on a week skewed to life in the city.

    All models have a 50-litre fuel tank and can run on 91 RON regular unleaded petrol.

    How does the Kia Seltos drive?

    Unless all-wheel drive is an absolute must, this is the engine to have in your Kia Seltos.

    It might look underdone on paper but the 2.0-litre petrol gets off the mark quickly enough, and is smooth and quiet in normal city driving. Rather than slurring awkwardly when you want to accelerate, the CVT does a good impression of a conventional automatic transmission.

    The learning curve is very shallow here if you’re hopping out of a much older car.

    Put your foot down and the engine can be a bit shouty when it revs; anyone who drives around with the throttle welded to the firewall should look at the 1.6-litre turbo.

    With chubby tyres and a comfortable suspension tune, the Seltos does an excellent job filtering out scarred city streets. There is some audible clunking over big bumps in the cabin, but for the most part this is a pretty refined little SUV.

    The light steering, solid visibility and high-resolution reversing camera make parking in tight spaces simple enough, and the Seltos is a great size if you want a reasonably large interior but spend a lot of time on small city streets.

    Of all the small SUVs out there, the Seltos is arguably one of the best if you’re covering long distances. Road and wind noise are kept at bay, and the engine hums away below 2000rpm at the legal limit in Australia.

    With four people on board it does feel like it’s working hard at highway speeds if you want to overtake, or accelerate up hills.

    It’s worth noting though the Seltos S misses out on adaptive cruise control, which makes life easier on long drives by maintaining a gap to the car in front if they slow below your set speed.

    You do still get lane-keeping assist however, along with lane centering which is more ‘hands-on’ than I would like when trying to place the car between the white lines. Thankfully it can be turned off using a button on the steering wheel.

    While we’re talking about annoying safety equipment, the speed limit warning in the latest Kia and Hyundai products is diabolically bad. Drift over the speed limit and it will beep at you. Drift back below, and then over it again – even by a small margin – and it beeps again.

    Drive through a school zone outside of school hours and, even though the 40km/h limit isn’t active, it’ll beep at you for exceeding the school zone limit.

    It activates every single time you start the car, and takes multiple button presses to turn off. I’d be looking to the aftermarket to have it coded out, because owners have confirmed it doesn’t get any less annoying the longer you spend with the car.

    What do you get?

    The 2023 Kia Seltos S comes standard with the following features:

    • 16-inch alloy wheels
    • Spare-saver spare wheel
    • Automatic halogen headlights
    • Automatic high-beam
    • Halogen daytime running lights
    • Rear fog light
    • Matte Black grille mesh
    • Body-coloured door handles
    • Body-coloured, power-folding side mirrors
    • Roof rails
    • Rear spoiler
    • Shark fin antenna
    • 4.2-inch instrument cluster screen
    • 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system
    • Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
    • Six-speaker sound system
    • 12V power outlet in front console
    • USB-A and USB-C outlet in front console
    • Two USB-C outlets behind centre console
    • Manual air-conditioning
    • Second-row air vents
    • Manual handbrake
    • Folding key
    • Cloth upholstery
    • Six-way manually adjustable driver’s seat

    Is the Kia Seltos safe?

    The Kia Seltos was crash tested by ANCAP in 2019 and it received a five-star safety rating.

    It received an adult occupant protection score of 85 per cent, child occupant protection score of 83 per cent, vulnerable road user protection score of 61 per cent, and a safety assist score of 70 per cent.

    All 2023 Kia Seltos models come standard with the following safety features:

    • Front, front-side and curtain airbags
    • Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
      • Car
      • Pedestrian
    • Blind-spot assist
    • Rear cross-traffic assist
    • Safe Exit Warning
    • Intelligent Speed Limit Assist
    • Lane-keep assist
    • Lane Following Assist (lane centring)
    • Driver Attention Alert
    • Front and rear parking sensors
    • Rear-view camera
    • Tyre-pressure monitoring system

    How much does the Kia Seltos cost to run?

    The 2023 Kia Seltos is covered by a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, with seven years of capped price service and up to eight years of roadside assist if you service the car at an authorised Kia dealer.

    Service costs over seven years/75,000 kilometres amount to $2072. Kia also offers up to eight years of roadside assistance.

    CarExpert’s Take

    The Kia Seltos S is a solid little SUV for buyers on a budget, but it feels a bit underdone in places.

    After all, under the skin it shares a lot with the Cerato hatchback – and if it’s affordable, low-fuss motoring you’re after the Cerato makes more sense.

    You can get a more generously equipped Cerato Sport for less than the Seltos S, or a much more generously equipped Cerato Sport+ for just $1500 more.

    Alternatively, if you are set on an SUV, we’d be stumping for the more expensive Seltos Sport or Sport+.

    With more technology, more safety equipment, and more welcoming interiors, they’re where the Seltos range really shines.

    Click an image to view the full gallery.

    MORE: Everything Kia Seltos

    Scott Collie

    Scott Collie is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Scott studied journalism at RMIT University and, after a lifelong obsession with everything automotive, started covering the car industry shortly afterwards. He has a passion for travel, and is an avid Melbourne Demons supporter.

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    8
    Overall Rating

    Cost of Ownership8.5
    Ride Comfort8
    Safety8.5
    Fit for Purpose8
    Handling Dynamics7.7
    Interior Practicality and Space9
    Fuel Efficiency7.5
    Value for Money8
    Performance7.5
    Technology Infotainment7.5
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