A silver 2020 Kia Seltos is parked in a muddy field.

Kia’s New Rugged SUV to Expand the Crossover Lineup


Kia is no stranger to the crossover body style. In an age where utility vehicles are at the top of the auto industry, Kia is one of the main players, taking a huge chunk of the market with vehicles like the Kia Sportage and the Kia Sorrento. Kia is steadily expanding its sports utility lineup, broadening the number of options and catering to a variety of SUV lovers. Released overseas and rumored to one day hit the United States, the 2020 Kia Seltos is the latest creation to break into the market. Rugged, and acting as the bridge between the Kia Soul and the Kia Sportage, the 2020 Kia Seltos is an intriguing subcompact that has developed plenty of attention here in the States. Packed with a wide range of available technology for safety and comfort, Kia argues that the Kia Seltos is a good fit in a lineup already crowded with compact and subcompact SUVs. That said, we’ll delve into what this 2020 Kia Seltos has to offer, and whether this new crossover will be able to make an impact in the US or simply fizzle as an overseas-exclusive release.

The Existing Kia Lineup

One look at the Kia family lineup and you might think that there is little room for any more utility-focused vehicles. Especially as Kia faces competition from other automakers, the idea of adding another crossover may seem a bit excessive. That said, the existing Kia SUV lineup may have some gaps in terms of customer appeal. As it stands now, the Kia SUV lineup can seem pretty fleshed out, including options like the 2020 Kia Telluride, a full-sized SUV with enough power and capacity to handle everything from off-road excursions to transporting the family around town. Unfortunately, the Kia Telluride may be a bit too big for certain consumers, especially considering the fact that this full-sized SUV has a seating capacity of 7 to 8, and an EPA-rated mpg of 20 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. Stepping down the scales is the 2020 Kia Sorrento, a mid-sized SUV that offers better gas mileage, at 22 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway, and the option of a robust 3.3-liter V6 engine. But like the 2020 Kia Telluride, the Kia Sorrento is still a little on the large side for some drivers, especially considering it still offers three rows of seating.

Another option in the Kia family is the 2020 Kia Sportage. Much smaller than the Telluride or the Sorrento, the Kia Sportage is a compact SUV that finds a nice blend between full-size capability and compact fuel economy. The 2020 Kia Sportage has a solid four-cylinder base engine that pumps out 181 horsepower and delivers some pretty competitive gas mileage earning 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. While considered a compact SUV, it isn’t the smallest option in the Kia family lineup. Lower down on the scale is the 2020 Kia Soul. This is a spunky, charming, and sometimes divisively styled SUV that can deter some potential drivers. Sure, the Kia Soul is cheaper, but it doesn’t necessarily offer universal appeal. The Kia Soul is a sure stand out on the road, and if you don’t want to drive something so quirky and dripping with character, you’ll have to move to another automaker that offers a more basic looking compact SUV. This is a market that Kia is potentially missing out on, and is intended to be solved by the 2020 Kia Seltos.

A silver 2020 Kia Seltos is shown from the side while driving on a highway with storm clouds overhead.

While still not confirmed for release in the United States, the Kia Seltos is a subcompact crossover talking a drive on full-size SUV wheels. Connecting the dots between drivers who want something smaller, stylish, but still practical, the Kia Seltos could make a great addition to the Kia family lineup. That said, with other vehicles like the 2020 Kia Niro still in the works, there may be a reason why the Kia Seltos has yet to make an official US appearance.

Taking a Close Look at Kia’s Foreign Subcompact Crossover

While the 2020 Kia Seltos is still a phantom in the global Kia family lineup, there is a lot that we know about their latest subcompact crossover. The exterior styling of the 2020 Kia Seltos is a bit misleading, as it stands far and away from the design of other existing subcompact options. Boxy, rugged, and with plenty of sharp edges, this is a subcompact that presents as a full-size SUV in appearance. As a result, the 2020 Kia Seltos stands to be a great second or third option to the existing Kia SUV lineup.

Moving beyond the chassis, the 2020 Kia Seltos offers a degree of power similar to its peculiar cousin, the Kia Soul. While the specific specs will change depending on the market, you’ll typically find the 2020 Kia Seltos overseas with a 175 horsepower turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. There is also an option for a 147 horsepower Atkinson-cycle 2.0-liter four-cylinder, and surprisingly enough, a diesel option as well. As can be expected, this rugged-looking subcompact SUV can be taken off the pavement when equipped with an all-wheel-drive. When saddled behind the wheel, you can expect a driving experience that’s snappy, responsive, and easy on the jump, which is another similarity to the Kia Soul.

What makes the 2020 Kia Seltos a true standout is the level of technology that has been packed onboard. Step behind the wheel of any Kia Seltos model, and you’ll find a full suite of standard driver-assistance features that make taking on highway and street traffic simply seamless. Some features you can expect to find include a newcomer to the Kia safety suite called Lane Following Assist. Designed to function a lot like other lane control features, this latest addition to the safety feature package keeps your vehicle within lane lines and will warn you should you drift out of lanes without using a turning signal. What makes this feature truly innovative as when used synonymously with adaptive cruise control, you can enjoy practically hands-free driving for short periods.

A yellow 2020 Kia Seltos is parked in a parking lot next to a body of water.

As can be expected, the interior is small. However, unlike the Kia Soul, it offers far more practical use of space. The problem with the Kia Soul is the peculiar design that cuts into spacing capacity. Thanks to the Kia Seltos’ boxy design, fitting extra cargo should hardly be an issue. Interior styling may change on the model you find, but you can expect anything from faux leather to soft-touch plastics. Infotainment tech is a huge plus too, as drivers can choose from either an 8-inch or 10.3-inch infotainment touchscreen that sits high up on the center console.

Should the Kia Seltos Come to the US?

While some automotive experts may suggest that the Kia family lineup is already crowded enough with existing SUV options, we tend to disagree. The Kia Seltos is a more practical alternative to something like the Kia Soul. Thanks to its exterior design, you can take full advantage of all available space, and at the same time, blend in seamlessly with other traffic. Although nothing has been 100% confirmed as of yet, signs are pointing to the possibility of a future US release. Time will tell whether rumor and speculation are confirmed, but needless to say, we’re excited to check out this Kia subcompact stateside when the time comes.