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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
WRITE-UP CURRENTLY UNFINISHED (Updated October 2)

Iv'e just returned home after a 2 week, 6700km (4150miles) road trip with 95 hours of driving. Starting near Vancouver BC, Canada, driving down to LA, California USA and over to the off-road mecha, Moab Utah.

In this write-up, I'll be trying to talk about every bit of the Kia Seltos, from on the on and off-road capabilities and performance, fuel economy, engine and transmission strengths and weaknesses, comfortability of the seats for long drives and for sleeping in, and other topics that I will list below in a legend. This is intended for current owners who are looking for more info on their vehicle and for a review for those who are looking at purchasing a new or used Kia Seltos.

Legend
  • Specs
  • Fuel Economy
  • Engine and Transmission + Cruise Control and Steering Assist
  • The 2.0L Off-Road Performance (and how it could be better)
  • Suspension
  • Lighting

Specs:
2022 Kia Seltos EX AWD 2.0L IVT
100% stock
No additional storage options (no roof basket etc.)
Driver and 1 passenger + roughly 200lbs in camping gear


Fuel Economy
Everyone loves fuel economy numbers. Here is a REAL world test of the 2.0L's fuel eco. Please keep in mind that the computer's fuel eco may not be 100% accurate, and actual fuel eco may be 10-15% more than what is shown. As shown in the picture below, the avg fuel eco over 6685.8km (4154.4 miles) is 6.5L/100KM (36.2mpg). This includes 85-90% highway driving, following the speed limits anywhere from 45mph on the Oregon Coast to 80mph on the interstate highways in Utah and Idaho. Also includes numerous hours of 0-20mph of soft sandy beach driving, crawling up the canyons of Moab, and of course stop and go traffic on highways and in cities. The BEST mileage I was able to achieve was the first day driving from Canada down to Oregon with 6L/100km (39mpg) over 679km (422miles). Don't forget about the elevation throughout the trip, starting at 38m (125ft) above sea level, to -58m (-190ft) below sea level in death valley, to 2074m (6800ft) above sea level at Canyonlands National Park in Utah and The Grand Canyon in Arizona.



Engine and Transmission Performance (on and off-road) Smart and Sport Modes (Includes Cruise Control and Steering Assist)

On road, Smart mode

The 2.0L and the IVT are a good pair for the Seltos. At 146hp and 132ft-lbs or torque, it sounds like it would be a slouch. At times it does have some moments where an extra few horsepower would be nice, like climbing up a long steep highway grade at 70mph (112km/h) revving up to 4,000 rpm in order for the cruise control to keep the current speed. I would like to see a tuner that could reliably increase power up to 160hp while keeping similar fuel economy. A small increase could go a long way.

Using the Manual Gear Select on the IVT to hold/reduce speed on downhill sections of highway works well. Moving the shift lever to the left (showing "S" on the gauge cluster) will set the rpm to around 2500-2800rpm, unsure of what gear ratio it selects here. Using the MGS to reduce speed without the use of brakes works best when selecting a ratio in the 3000-4000rpm range and works very well at faster highway speeds and was OK downhill at 35mph and below.

The Steering Assist option with the EX models and up is great. When I first purchased my Seltos I was really unsure about the steering assist, but I don't think I would ever buy another vehicle without it. Now, it is NOT perfect. As good as it is, it is not a substitute for a self driving car and the driver should always have their hands on the steering wheel and paying attention to the road.
While it works really well on straight highways with gradual curves and bends, it seems to like to turn early on sharper curves in the road at higher speeds. Now if the car were to take the same sharper curve at a lower speed it might do fine. The steering assist will actually turn itself off mid-curve if it senses too sharp of a corner, even at lower highway speeds around 45mph. Sometimes it will make the curve perfectly, others it seems to start the turn too early and gets super close to the other lane.
Using steering assist while it is super windy doesn't help as much as I thought it would, it almost makes it more difficult to control even on a long straight stretch of road, but it could also just be me trying to counter the computers inputs.

Cruise Control is well, cruise control. It works just as you think it would, but it has a weird quirk where it will take a few seconds to figure out what it needs to do once the speed has been selected. For example: Holding the speed at 70mph, press the "Cruise" button on the steering wheel, then pressing the "set -" button to set the cruise control to that speed. After letting off the accelerator it will drop 1-2 mph for 2-4 seconds, then increase rpm to meet the set cruise speed. Every other vehicle I have driven will hold the set cruise speed instantly before letting off the accelerator.
If cruise control is set to 70mph and the driver wishes to step on the gas to pass another vehicle, you can do so without disabling cruise. Once you have let off the accelerator and coast back to the cruise speed, the Seltos will automatically resume the set cruise speed without any user input.
Tapping the break pedal while cruise is active, cruise will automatically disable itself, as with every other vehicle for safety reasons.

On road, Sport mode
Sport mode really wakes up the acceleration for the 2.0L. I spent about 2 hours in sport mode carving through the Oregon and California Coast and it makes it super fun to drive. With super smooth and instant shifts at 6000 rpm, it has the gearing and power to quickly get back into the throttle after a sharp 20mph curve, up to 55mph before the next curve in what seems like 2-3 seconds.

PICTURE: CALIFORNIA COAST, NORTH OF BIG SUR, SUNSET


The 2.0L Off-Road Performance (and how it could be better)


If you look around, you'll find a few videos reviewing the Seltos in soft-roading condition, but only of the SX model with the 2.5L Turbo paired with the Dual Clutch Transmission. I say soft-roading becuase when I think of off-roading, I think of climbing rock shelfs, mud pits, and rock crawling. Obviously the Seltos is not capable of that, and I'll get to why it can't and what the Seltos needs in order to get closer to the true off-road title.
You'll hear a lot about the DCT overheating issues. I'm happy to let you know that the IVT does not suffer from the same problem. Yes, it does get warm and yes, when I tested it that there was a hot transmission smell, but I didn't get the overheating message on the gauge cluster, nor did the Kia care about stopping while crawling up and down Shafer Canyon Trail and Long Canyon Road in Moab, Utah. Experience the Shafer Trail (U.S. National Park Service)

If you are unfamiliar with Shafer Canyon Trail, it as listed on the nps.gov website and on a sign at the top of the trail with "High-clearance 4WD vehicles with a low range gear (4LO) are highly recommended", with high-clearance being 12" or more. The Seltos does not have a 4LO or a Low range in general, but it does have Downhill Brake Control, while activated, the system automatically applies the brakes to maintain the vehicle speed 4 km/h (2.5 mph) ~ 40 km/h (25 mph) and allows the driver to concentrate on steering the vehicle down hill. Now, as great as the DBC was and it worked well, it uses the brakes and not the transmission and engine to slow the vehicle while descending a hill. Unfortunately, even in Manual Select Mode, ratio 1 is still too tall of a ratio to slow the Seltos to a low enough speed for clawing downhill while off-roading. The Seltos did really well down and back up the trail and I had zero issues while in Smart mode, without AWD LOCK and 34psi with the stock Solus tires. I got a lot of thumbs up from modified Jeeps taking the trail at the same time and it was a conversation starter at the top.

PICTURE: ON TOP OF SHAFER CANYON TRAIL, MOAB UTAH, AFTER COMPLETING THE TRAIL BOTH DIRECTIONS

How it could be better
From what I experienced while soft-roading, the Seltos really just needs more ground clearance. With 7.3" of ground clearance while stock, it really needs more. While taking it up the Long Canyon Trail in Moab, I got to a section where it ended up being impassable, by me at least, a stock Jeep Wrangler had no issues. There was one section where the rocker panel got hung up on a rocky section with large divots. There is a lift kit that you can buy from Truxx, which is a 2" spacer lift. That would defiantly help increasing ground clearance to 9.3" and potentially up to 9.7" with slightly larger tires.
I feel that what the Seltos really needs is taller springs to actually increase suspension travel as well and ground clearance. I would love to work with a spring shop and get custom springs and front struts built to increase the suspension total lift to 3" + the addition of larger tires to potentially get up to 10.5 or even a full 12" of total ground clearance with 30" tall tires.. I do understand that there are a lot of considerations that have to be made in order to make something like that work, including building custom, longer trailing arms for the rear "A" arms to keep the rear tires centered in the wheel well. I know that was an issue Jeep Cherokee owners had when I was a part of that group. CV axel angle is also an issue when lifting vehicles with independent suspension.

PICTURE: HALF WAY ON LONG CANYON ROAD, MOAB UTAH


Suspension

When I first bought the Seltos, I loved how soft the suspension was, and I still do. It's like riding on a cloud, or an old Cadillac with pillow seats. After my 2 week trip with 95 hours of driving, the suspension is actually too soft for my liking now. It may have been very wavy roads, or the 200lbs of camping gear in the back, but I felt like I the Kia was hitting the bump stops on almost every large bump in the road. I plan to get a fabrication shop to build me a custom set of tubular roof rails and low-profile cross bars so that I can add a roof top tent and keep it as low as possible due to my Kia being parked in a parking garage, and it would help slightly with aerodynamics, keeping the RTT lower to the roof of the car. With the added weight of, I'm guessing, 400-550lbs of camping gear soon, the springs really need to be stiffer, which I might also contact a Spring Shop to get a custom set of springs that are one size up in wire size to stiffen up the rear a bit, if its even possible.


Lighting
The stock halogen low beams and high beams are not as bad as I thought they were going to be after owning a 2018 Mazda 3 with incredible LED headlights. The projector lights on the 22' Seltos is actually pretty decent. During my trip drove maybe 10 hours in the dark, and swapping from lows to highs for most of it. I'd give them a rating of 9/10 for both brightness and coverage of the road. The high beams seem to be aimed far and centered, which makes them have an odd focus point that can reach the mountain sides 800+ft away. The low beams also didn't have the issue with being too bright, like my old Mazda 3, where on-coming traffic would flash me because they thought the lows are were my high beams.
The LED taillights on the EX and up look cool and are very bright. The running lights, brake lights and 3rd brake lights are LED, while the rear turn signals are incandescent. To me that doesn't make any sense, Kia was already there making everything else LED so why not make the turn signals LED as well? As it is not even an option for EX Premium or SX models, you would be able to find aftermarket LED bulbs to swap them out, although I have seen others having troubles finding LED bulbs that do no hyper flash without installing an in-line resistor. I also did that for my 2018 Mazda, installing an inline resistor for each side of the car, but they always only lasted for a few months before the hyper flashing returned.
 

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2021 Kia Seltos LX, 2.0l CVT
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Quite an in-depth review. I wish more mainstream sites spent more time with the 2.0 AWD CVT.

Unfortunately, the Seltos mpg computer is lying to you. It overreports fuel economy by about 7-10%. For example, my last tank returned 34.7mpg on the computer. Actual was 32.7mpg using miles_driven / gallons_filled. I've never seen the computer underreport mileage.

BTW...the best mileage I ever got was 40.1mpg, actual. The computer insisted I got 44.5.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Quite an in-depth review. I wish more mainstream sites spent more time with the 2.0 AWD CVT.

Unfortunately, the Seltos mpg computer is lying to you. It overreports fuel economy by about 7-10%. For example, my last tank returned 34.7mpg on the computer. Actual was 32.7mpg using miles_driven / gallons_filled. I've never seen the computer underreport mileage.

BTW...the best mileage I ever got was 40.1mpg, actual. The computer insisted I got 44.5.
That's unfortunate. I'll have to do it the old way next time I'm on a long road trip to double check. Thanks for the info.
 
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