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May 26, 2024

Review: 2024 Kia Seltos 1.4 Turbo SX

When Kia launched the Seltos nameplate in the Philippines in 2020, there was no doubt they had big aspirations for it; after all, it was going to compete in the fast-growing, and lucrative compact crossover segment. But even after getting the foundations mostly right (it had pretty good levels of mechanical polish), alas, it never found mainstream success due to the sheer number of entrants, all of which offered more standard equipment simply because they were all from mainland China.

With that in mind, Kia could do one of two things with the Seltos’ refresh. Either they could stick to their guns—more expensive pricing but more premium positioning or since they couldn’t beat the Chinese, might as well join them. They chose the latter and that’s where things stand with the 2024 Seltos. It’s an already familiar nameplate to Filipino buyers, but sourced from Kia’s joint-venture with Yueda in China.

Right off the bat, you get to see where this decision’s paying off. The new Seltos suddenly has a remarkable boost in creature comfort features and despite still paying a hefty price for a Chinese-made crossover (P 1.688-million for the top-of-the-line Seltos 1.4 Turbo SX), at least you get things like a dual LCD screen for the gauge cluster and infotainment screen, wireless Apple CarPlay, wireless charging, powered driver’s seat, ventilated front seats, dual climate control with rear vents, ambient lighting, and of course, a panoramic sunroof. In short, Kia’s now using the Chinese SUV playbook, but keeping their premium pricing.

That decision will likely bite them back in the end, because for all the additional bells and whistles tacked onto the Seltos, the core product simply isn’t engineered to compete in a price range filled with more polished offerings.

For starters, there’s the interior build quality. In photos and brochures, they look fine, but start poking around, and the materials are just disappointing. Hard plastics are everywhere—even in places where you’d come to expect some padded material, like the “stitched” dashboard. Designers can’t even get the tone and texture consistent throughout with at least three shades of gray and three patterns visible to the naked eye. Then, you have exposed screwheads and even the vanity mirror where the cover’s been omitted. These details, ultimately, fail to spell out, “premium” no matter what language you speak.

And it’s a shame because ergonomically, the Seltos nails it. Compared to any Chinese offering out there, the chunky three-spoke steering wheel, nicely-bolstered seats, and well-positioned controls all promote ease-of-use. The new climate control switch bank looks messy, but it gets plus points because they’re made up of real, tactile buttons as opposed to the capacitive-type garbage. There are also physical switches for the volume and tuner too, but weirdly enough, they’re toggles instead of knobs. Better something than nothing, right?

The large 10.25-inch infotainment system itself is also easy to navigate and use with a relatively flat menu structure. Unlike other Kia models though, all functions, even driving-related ones, are centralized in here as opposed to splitting them with the multi-function display in the gauge cluster. It can create moments of confusion such as when trying to activate or deactivate the lane keep assist (accessible via the steering wheel controls). Pressing down the ‘OK’ button doesn’t do anything in the gauge cluster, but brings up the Driving Assistance menu on the center screen. It’s a small issue all things considered.

Despite the modest exterior footprint, the Seltos is also quite large inside with generous levels of head, shoulder, and legroom. And with this update, the rear occupants now get a center armrest and three-point seatbelts to go with the reclinable seatbacks.

For 2024, Kia’s decided to dualize the Seltos engine offering. The base trims get a normally-aspirated 1.5-liter mated to a IVT (a CVT with a built-in step logic to mimic a traditional automatic), or in the case of the Seltos SX, a turbocharged 1.4-liter mated to a 7-speed dual clutch. Now, before you get a mental image of this powertrain behaving like a hot or warm hatch-cum-SUV, it’s not. It behaves like a like-to-like replacement to the outgoing 2.0-liter but with an additional feature built-in: lag.

Kia says the Seltos SX with its three driving modes (and three traction modes) does the century sprint in 9.7 seconds. That figure is, subjectively, doable for as long as you drive with your right foot firmly planted down. However, on more sensible throttle application, this small displacement, forced induction formula makes it largely unpredictable. One moment there’s nothing going on, and the next moment, it’s going. The transmission doesn’t help things since it takes a split-second or two to adjust to what the driver needs or wants at that particular moment. Merging onto the highway sometimes is like rolling the dice: you’ll find yourself either enjoying the wide, fat torque band, or getting no pull whatsoever. Things are exacerbated further by the engine’s lack of aural refinement. It’s downright gruff and noisy!

Perhaps the only thing going in the turbocharged engine’s favor is fuel economy. The average city/highway fuel economy reading is 9.9 km/L (average speed of 18 km/h). Oh, and at least it can run on 91 octane fuel.

Changes to the powertrain sources aside, the decision to switch the Seltos’ sourcing from Korea to China has resulted in one fundamental difference; one that’s normally not talked or discussed about: the platform. Although both versions use the same “mother platform,” the SP2, the China-made Seltos uses a slightly modified version—the SP2c. Based on what internet sleuths could figure out, the biggest difference is down to the reduced use of ultra-high strength steel in the SP2c. This hasn’t affected important hygiene factors like safety, but it does have an adverse effect on things like handling.

About 95 percent of buyers probably won’t care as the new Seltos, for the most part, is still cushy and pliant over a variety of surfaces. It also happens to quell out a lot of the nasty road cuts or bumps that seem to liter the roads these days (even better than the outgoing Seltos actually). However, the platform switchover neutered the fun-to-drive factor. Granted that a compact crossover isn’t the first thing you’d imagine tossing through curves and corners, but even compared to the SP2 Seltos, it feels numb on the straights and roly-poly when pushed. And although the cabin’s free from any rattles or squeaks, the body structure doesn’t feel as tight as it once was.

As the dust settles, there are some positive takeaways with the new Seltos. Chief among them is that it’s better equipped than ever before. One can even say that these are the sort of features it needed in the first place. Together with the wider price bracket (and a lower starting price), it casts a wider net than ever before. However, there’s a tragic flaw here too, especially with how Kia’s managed the pricing. At P 1.688-million, the Seltos SX not only finds itself with a P 400,000 gap to the mid-grade Seltos 1.5 EX, but finds itself going against more polished and more captivating choices. There might be a commensurate increase in features and an entirely different (but unpolished) powertrain, but the Seltos, as a base, just doesn’t cut it at these prices. Keep the features and lower the price by P 200,000 will get more people talking and, perhaps, considering this Kia. As it stands? It’s a hard sell.

2024 Kia Seltos 1.4 Turbo SX

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Bottom Line
Pros More features than ever before.
Cons Expensive, driving dynamics have taken a step back.
TL;DR Price it down by P 200,000, then we'd talk.
Year Introduced 2020 (Refreshed: 2024)
Warranty 5 years / 160,000 kilometers
The Basics
Body Type Compact Crossover
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/R
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.4
Aspiration Turbocharged
Fuel Delivery Direct Injection
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
Maximum Output (PS @ rpm) 140 @ 6,000
Maximum Torque (Nm @ rpm) 242 @ 1,500-3,200
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / ~91
Transmission 7 DCT
Cruise Control Yes, Adaptive
Fuel Economy (km/L) @ Ave. Speed (km/h) 9.90 km/L @ 18 km/h
Fuel Tank Size (L) 50
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,385
Width (mm) 1,800
Height (mm) 1,635
Wheelbase (mm) 2,630
Curb Weight (kg) 1,220
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Torsion Beam
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Parking Brake Electronic, w/ Auto Hold
Tires Nexen NPriz CX SH6 M+S
215/50 R 17 H (f & r)
Recommended Tire Pressure (PSI) 32 front, 30 rear
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 6
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Rear
Parking Camera Yes, Rear
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR w/ pre-tensioners x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Advanced Driver Assist System Forward Collision Avoidance Assist
Lane Keep Assist
Lane Following Assist
Other Safety Features Hill Start Assist
Exterior Features
Headlights LED
Fog Lamps Yes, Front (LED)
Light Operation Automatic
Wiper Operation Variable Intermittent
Tailgate Manual
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic, Manual
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) Electric, 6-way
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Manual
Seating Surface Leather
2nd Row 60/40 Split-Fold, Reclinable, w/ Armrest
3rd Row None
Sunroof Panoramic
Multi-Information Display / Size Yes, 10.25-inch
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, w/ Fold
Rear View Mirror Day/Night
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Dual, w/ Rear Vents
Audio System Stereo
USB Type A
USB Type C
Wireless Charger Yes
Infotainment Display / Size 10.25-inch
Smartphone Connectivity Apple CarPlay
Android Auto
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes


  1. Made in China quality, made in korea price.

  2. Kia priced the Seltos to compete against the best selling Ford Territory Titanium X
    Kia dealers can only give up to 100,000 Pesos cash discount for the Seltos now.
    Still prefer the Kia Seltos over the DNGA Yaris Cross and Corolla Cross as it looks much better and much more cheaper to maintain

    1. China kia seltos base 1.2M has just 2 airbags and bare to the bones vs yaris cross base 1.2M has 6 airbags, has more tech. Kia seltos middle variant 1.3M has 2 airbags and bare to the bones vs yaris cross 1.3M has 6 airbags, toyota safety sense, 360 cam and more tech. Seltos top of the line 1.7M vs yaris cross HYBRID 1.6M , no brainer. Quality/durability, ease of maintenance, no brainer. China seltos vs TNGA hybrid corolla cross, are you serious??? Make all variants of china made kia seltos less 200k and WE WILL TALK😅😅😅

  3. The quality of the images have seemingly taken a step back sir? I've noticed it in some of the other reviews as well.

    1. Sorry about that. We had to change our photo editing's compressing the photos way too much. We'll try to fix the settings.

  4. I would rather buy the previous 2.0 Seltos from korea than this new generation model from china.

    1. Go buy one then that is if you can afford to buy it immediately

  5. Kia Sonet ✅
    Kia Seltos ❌

    Same rear design.
    The Kia Sonet's kink in the headlights makes it in tune/look like with the design of the facelifted Kia Seltos.

  6. Uh oh. It looks like the bulk of the sales in this class will still go to the Corolla Cross & the HRV.

  7. Considered as a China car; not Korea haha

  8. Very seldom you see one of these on the road.
    Its just a matter of time the seltos will face the same fate as the stonic.

    1. The number of China made Kia Stonic sold in the Philippine market are very high compared to the very low sales volume of Korean and China made Kia Seltos units
      Korean made Chevrolet Trailblazer crossover SUV is a much better buy now than the Kia Seltos SX Turbo

  9. The original seltos was more attractive in the back, as it resembles the 2013 rav4 whatever that generation is. But personally, would have loved to see kia ph offering it with a base variant that had the 1.6l u2 crdi engine ala kia soul diesel. They had that in other countries. Idc if others don't agree, would have been happy if such choice was available bt.

    1. Zero chance for Kia China to produce a diesel powered Kia Seltos as that engine can't comply with the very strict emissions standards in China and there's zero demand for diesel powered Kia vehicles in China


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