A blue 2020 Kia Sportage, assumed to be similar to the 2021, is driving away from a city.

2021 Kia Sportage vs 2021 Kia Seltos: Are They Different?

If you didn’t know, Kia has continued its relentless manufacturing of SUVs and crossovers by adding another one, called the Seltos, into the lineup. In terms of price, the Seltos lands between the Soul and Niro, although if you look at the starting MSRPs between the Seltos, Niro, Sportage, and Sorento, you’ll see that there’s actually not a huge difference. So, how do they all differ? Specifically, what can we find when we compare the 2021 Kia Sportage vs 2021 Kia Seltos?

The Seltos arrives hot on the heels of the very well-received Telluride, so that makes it two new SUVs in Kia’s lineup in just about a year’s time. The Telluride, though, is definitely in a different class, which is why we want to look more at the Sportage for a comparison. However, you’re going to see some similarities between the Seltos and Telluride, which is probably due to their close release dates.

It’s an interesting move by Kia to continue to build out its SUV lineup in such rapid fashion. To the average person, it might seem like there’s too much going on over at Kia right now. I mean, how can you be selling three SUVs that are so close together in their pricing? What differences could there possibly be?

Kia vs Kia

To start, if you take a look at the design of the Seltos, you’ll notice that it has an updated feel to it, just like the Telluride. The tiger-nose grille makes another appearance, which is great, and the less-sloped hood of the Seltos (compared to the Sportage) makes it seem a lot less compact for some reason. That’s quite the feat when you’re talking about a small SUV.

The Sportage, too, is a small SUV, but it slots ahead in terms of size and power. The Seltos has a standard 2.0L I-4 engine with up to 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque. The current 2020 Sportage has a 2.4L I-4 engine with up to 181 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque, which is expected to be the same for the 2021 model. The Seltos’ upgraded engine is a 1.6L Turbo I-4 with up to 175 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque while the Sportage has an upgraded engine that is a 2.0L Turbo I-4 with up to 240 hp (FWD) or 237 hp (AWD) and 260 lb-ft of torque.

For size and dimensions, the current Sportage has a ground clearance of 6.8 in (AWD) or 6.4 in (FWD), is 176.4 inches long, and 73 inches wide. The 2021 Kia Seltos has a ground clearance of 7.3 in, is 172 inches long, and 70.9 inches wide. As you can see, the dimensions are quite similar in terms of length and width, with the Sportage being measured as slightly longer and wider. The Seltos, though, has better ground clearance, which is somewhat surprising. Another surprising tidbit is the Seltos also appears to have a greater overall cargo capacity at 62.8 cubic ft. compared to the 60.1 cu ft of the Sportage. It doesn’t quite make sense since the Sportage is physically larger than the Seltos, but perhaps the overall boxy quality of the Seltos is lending it some extra interior space.

What Are They Meant For?

A yellow 2021 Kia Seltos is parked in front of a brick building.

Both the Sportage and Seltos have options for either FWD or AWD, which is good to see. For us, it doesn’t seem like an SUV would be quite versatile if it didn’t have some sort of drivetrain to allow for more capable off-roading. There is no third row in either of these vehicles, which means your total passenger count will max out at five people. As is the custom with just about any SUV these days, you can lower the back seat to create additional room for cargo, and, as was mentioned above, the Seltos has more space with the rear seat folded down than the Sportage does in the same configuration.

So, you have two small SUVs with decent ground clearance and versatile interiors that can be adjusted for either passengers or cargo or both. It seems like Kia is pushing their vehicles towards the adventurous sort of people. Either the Seltos or the Sportage would be ideal for taking a weekend camping trip or something similar. Although they can technically fit up to five people, if you know about compact SUVs, then you know that fitting four full-sized individuals is a much more comfortable option. Throw some gear in the back and attach equipment to the roof rails, and you’ll be all set to hit the trail.

A More Luxurious Ride

While it’s all well and good that both the Seltos and Sportage can function as decent little adventure vehicles, the point remains that they still seem a bit too similar. If you delve a bit deeper into what each of them comes with, though, you’ll see that the Sportage costs about $2,000 more for a reason.

The interior of the Sportage looks like it costs more than the Seltos. Probably for good reason because it most likely does cost more. Kia has long been known for their extensive use of plastic on their vehicles (although you wouldn’t say these modern Kias are anything like the original Kias we remember from the past), and it’s no different here. However, the bits you find in the Seltos don’t look as durable as what you see in the Sportage. Also, the Sportage appears to have more rubber materials as opposed to the plastic in the Seltos.

Apart from the interior, the engines may be the most significant factors for choosing a Sportage over a Seltos. As was previously mentioned, the engine options on the Sportage are far better than those on the Seltos. And for barely an increase in price, it could be well worth it to go for the upgraded Sportage in place of the flashy new Seltos.

Choose What’s Best for You

A presumed red 2021 Kia Sportage is driving away with a win after comparing 2021 Kia Sportage vs 2021 Kia Seltos.

While the current Sportage may seem like a better option because it’s basically a Seltos, but with a nicer interior and a better engine, that may not be the case for everyone. We have yet to hear much about the 2021 Kia Sportage; our comparison is coming from the 2020 Sportage model. Perhaps there will be some significant changes that make the differences even more profound. Either way, the Seltos is still an excellent option for those of you looking to have a compact adventure SUV that has some great features and specifications. If you’d rather save some money, too, at the expense of a less-powerful engine, then it’s a no-brainer that the Seltos might be the better choice.

Still, we imagine the Seltos will be a big hit. Compact SUVs have become the go-to option for many people out there, replacing their desire to have a sedan as their commuter vehicle. When you have an SUV like the Seltos, it’s easy to see why. You’ll still get great gas mileage, have enough room for a small family or some friends, and be able to do some off-roading if you so desire. You won’t be able to do that in a lot of cars.