Base Camp: 2021 Kia Seltos LX FWD
Every week, wheels.ca selects a new vehicle on sale in Canada and takes a good look at its entry-level trim. If we find it worthy of your consideration, we'll let you know. If not, we'll recommend one that earns a passing grade.
Kia has always had a seat around the Base Camp kitchen table, offering well-made and stylish machines that are packed with features. While the brand has been moving upscale in recent years (Stinger, Telluride, et al) they also haven’t forgotten its roots. Entry-level small vehicles still make up a portion of their showroom. In this instalment, we sample one of the smallest – and newest – rigs to wear a Kia badge.
Seltos is part of a new(ish) breed of SUV and crossover, packaging a high seating position into the frame of what might have otherwise been a small hatchback had the buying public not gravitated to this type of bodystyle ages ago. The base LX wears a sticker price of $23,095 and is powered by a naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre four cylinder engine making 146 horsepower. In this guise, it funnels power through an automatic transmission to the front wheels only; those seeking all-wheel drive (AWD) action will need to shell out an extra $2000 for that privilege.
There’s no shortage of equipment inside the Seltos, with an array of active safety tools like blind spot warning aids and rear cross traffic alerts showing up as standard kit. Air conditioning and cruise control are on board, plus a six-speaker audio system that deploys an 8-inch display screen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are found, though satellite radio is not. Cloth seats are heated in the front row and the steering wheel has both tilt and telescope adjustments.
The brand known for value hasn’t skimped on exterior jewelry, either. Alloy wheels are wrapped up in 16-inch tires (no cheap hubcaps here) and projector headlights are shared with more expensive trims as are the fog lamps. Heated power side view mirrors with built-in turn signal repeaters are body coloured, just like the door handles. An array of bright colours is available but the Onyx Black shown here is the only no-charge option. At least Kia doesn’t restrict its funky paint to the more expensive trims, I suppose.
Windows are tinted and a little rear spoiler juts from the roof. Even the silver bumper accents designed to look like AWD skid plates remain. In short, it’ll be tough – save for the wheels – to tell this is a base model at first glance.
What We’d Choose
Making the $2,000 walk to an all-wheel drive equipped LX isn’t chump change, a sum that will tack about $40 per month onto a typical car loan. Sending power to all four wheels also invites a fuel economy penalty of approximately 0.5L/100km. By itself, that amount isn’t unbearable but the cumulative effects will add up over time. Best, then, to stick with the base LX and invest about a third of your savings into a good set of name-brand winter tires. It’s noted that AWD models don’t get much more ground clearance – just an extra 0.3-inches.
Your long-of-torso author does appreciate this trim is devoid of sunroof, a feature which rudely scuppers nearly two inches of front seat headroom. That might be enough to make up for the LX FWD model’s lack of satellite radio and push button start. Hey, at least the extra headroom means I won’t bonk my head while digging in my pocket for the keys.