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February 16, 2021

Review: 2021 Kia Seltos 2.0 LX

Last year was big for the Kia Seltos. After we declared it as having one of the best transmissions in its segment, impressing us with its long-distance touring comfort during its first Philippine drive, and even beating the base model CX-30 in a comparo, it sealed 2020 by earning a spot in our Top 5 Picks of the year.

It seemed that the Seltos, particularly the top-trim 2.0 SX is a great choice if you’re shopping around for a “Godilocks-sized” crossover. But, what if the P 1.505 million asking price is way off budget? What if you wanted something below P 1.1 million? Well, that’s where this base model variant, the Seltos 2.0 LX comes in. The question now is: how does it fair with all the bells and whistles gone? Let’s find out.

Strip down the Seltos to its most basic form, and it’s still a pretty darn good crossover. The mechanicals are solid. It’s clear Kia engineers aced their homework. With its engine and transmission shared across the entire local Seltos line-up, the combination of its 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle 4-cylinder engine, and IVT (a CVT with built-in shift logic) makes for a surprisingly wonderful behind-the-wheel experience.

By itself, the 149 horsepower, 179 Nm of torque engine balances performance and economy—it can easily do 9 km/L in the city, and during the duration of this mostly highway test, 13.51 km/L. But once the secret sauce is added in—the IVT gearbox, the Seltos truly comes alive. Normally, it’s hard to fall in love with a gearbox with no gears, but in this case, the experience is all positive. Compared to other CVT boxes from Toyota, Honda, or Subaru, Kia has them soundly beat. Not only does it make the Seltos quick off its feet in the city, but it drives better than its horsepower or torque figures suggest out of it. Stuck behind a slow vehicle on a two-lane road? No problem—it’s got confidence for any quick overtake.

Like its powertrain, the 2.0 LX shares its suspension with the rest of the Seltos line-up. Thus, it feels nimble, and even a bit of fun to toss around. It doesn’t fully make an emotional connection with the driver, but objectively, it’s agile with controlled levels of body roll. Even better, it rides well on a multitude of road surfaces. Having said that, it doesn’t do well whenever roads transition between smooth and rough as the rear-end has this tendency to feel loose. Also, on really rough roads, it loses its sense of refinement, though damping is good enough to quell the truly nasty stuff.

So, while there’s no question that the base Seltos remains a great drive, it loses points when it comes to features. The eye-catching boxy, upright styling remains, but look everywhere and it looks quite bare. Thankfully, Kia’s retained the 17-inch alloy wheels here, but everything else that can be removed was—from the roof rails to the side mirror signal repeaters to the LED headlights (it does sport halogen DRLs) to, heck, even the front fog lights.

It’s basically the same story when it comes to the Seltos’s interior. Think of a feature, and this 2.0 LX probably won’t have it. Leather steering wheel? None. Leather seats? None. Automatic climate control? None. Push button start/stop? None. Rear parcel shelf? None (although this feature isn’t even offered in the top-of-the-line 2.0 SX). Although Kia retained the tilt/telescopic wheel and 8-inch infotainment screen with six speakers, it can’t escape the “cheap” label. And that’s a bummer, because take away the hard, scratchy plastics, and it’s got great ergonomics. The space is also quite generous too.

Then, you get to the safety aspect. Aside from the dual SRS airbags and anti-lock brakes, the Seltos doesn’t get much else. There’s a reverse camera, but that’s about it. No side or curtain airbags, no stability control—it’s a certainly a missed opportunity especially since Kia’s trying to target family-oriented buyers.

In the end, be it a base or top-trim model, the Kia Seltos gets its driving dynamics right. However, even if it scores well in that aspect, as buyers start seeking value, the 2.0 LX comes up short. It’s probably best to head straight to the mid-trim 2.0 EX to get a good balance between price and features. As it is though, the Seltos 2.0 LX’s low price tag and great on-road manners are undeniable come-ons, but after that, it falls short on luxury, but more worryingly, safety.

2021 Kia Seltos 2.0 LX

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Ownership 2021 Kia Seltos 2.0 LX
Year Introduced 2019
Vehicle Classification Compact Crossover
Warranty 5 years / 160,000 kilometers
The Basics
Body Type 5-door SUV
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.0
Aspiration Normally Aspirated
Fuel Delivery EFI
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 149 @ 6,200
Nm @ rpm 179 @ 4,500
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission CVT
Cruise Control No
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 13.51 km/L @ 35 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,370
Width (mm) 1,800
Height (mm) 1,610
Wheelbase (mm) 2,630
Curb Weight (kg) 1,295
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Torsion Beam Axle
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Parking Brake Manual
Tires Kumho Ecsta HS51 215/55 R 17 V (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 2
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control No
Parking Sensors No
Parking Camera Yes, Rear
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features No
Exterior Features
Headlights Halogen
Fog Lamps No
Auto Lights Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers No
Tailgate Manual
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Urethane
Seating Adjustment (driver) Manual, 6-way
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Manual, 4-way
Seating Surface Fabric
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
Sunroof No
Trip Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes
Rear View Mirror Day/Night, Manual
Proximity Key No
Climate Control Manual
Audio System Stereo
Smartphone Connectivity Apple CarPlay
Android Auto
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes


  1. Or maybe consider a China crossover with all features that the Seltos is missing . . . hard to retain the old formula of decontenting base models when the emerging Chinese competition is rolling out fully loaded models at this model's base model price.

    1. No thanks. I don't want a Commie-made car that loses half its value once you drive it off the dealership.

  2. Hi Uly, does the seltos sold here in the Philippines has idle stop tech?

  3. the SX price is 300,000 to 400,000 pesos more expensive than the base model and still does not come with sunroof , rear arm rest or even a cover for the cargo area. a complete turn off. a different engine would justify the different


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