2020 Kia Seltos SX Review: Will this sell?

Now ringing in below S$110k and with most of the bells and whistles, is the Kia Seltos SX the one to get, or the less expensive EX model? 


The Kia Seltos is the Korean brand’s popular offering this year – it’s a small SUV that happens to be very spacious, but here is the version that will move quickest out of the showrooms. 

When the Seltos debuted, it came here first in GT Line spec. Kia fans will know that this is the highest-specced version with the most equipment and the largest pricetag. In fact at S$124,999 with COE, it’s pushing into semi-premium territory.

Here’s the antidote: The SX model, which is the mid-range model for the Seltos, and it’s clearly the Seltos to buy, unless you are singularly obsessed with red highlights.

Read our review of the Seltos GT Line first to get a better idea of what the car is like

What’s the difference?

First check out our news story which has all the details on the spec differences.

Externally, the GT Line has unique wheels (with a red highlight around the Kia logo) and body kit (with red highlight on the front and rear). But flash your eyes between the two and you’ll hardly notice the difference, honestly. 

The basic design principles of the Seltos still ring true – it’s the tallest small SUV here, and together with its big and boxy off-road inspired looks, means it’ll certainly tug heartstrings in this era of SUV Love. It’s not for everyone of course, but we think it’s an interesting departure from the confusing trend of SUVs trying to be coupes at the same time. 

Does that mean it has lots of space?

Tallness equates more headroom, so if your family averages above 1.7-metres or more, the Seltos might be a good choice, plus the presence of a sunroof heightens the feeling of space. 

Sunroof standard on the SX model

While the Seltos is still similar to small SUVs in size, it’s quite spacious and as noted in our GT Line review, feels almost like a car one size up. Families of five will fit without too much infighting, and the 433-litre boot is also capable of swallowing lots of cargo. 

What’s it like up front? 

The cabin feels well made, especially at common touch points.

For the SX, there’s a leather steering wheel, diamond-quilted seats (with air-con, though only the driver’s is electrically-adjustable) and the switchgear all feels top-notch too.

There’s large swathes of black plastic, on the upper sections of the dash and doors, but the Seltos does its best to distract you from that with the large instrument panel and infotainment cluster.

You mean that big slab of black?

The vertical orientation of the design means the instrument/infotainment cluster is a monolithic unit encased in gloss plastic.

One surprise is that the SX model debuts the 10.25-inch infotainment screen, which is larger and has sharper graphics than the 8.0-inch unit – the latter was standard on the first wave of GT Line models, but will be standard for the SX and GT Line henceforth. Like the 8.0-inch, it packs Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard. 

All this is an eye-opener in a car at this price, considering a big display like this you can only find in Mercedes-Benzes or the like, as is the head-up display and the 7.0-inch digital instrument panel. 

Count in the wireless smartphone charger and the mood lighting (frivolous yes, but still a feature) and you have a mainstream SUV that feels very modern, almost premium in terms of its equipment loadout. 

How does it drive? 

Like a crossover. Seriously, it ticks all the crossover crosses: A high seating position, decent but not outstanding driving dynamics, some cabin noise from wind and the tyres at speed but nothing overwhelming. 

The other crossover crosses are a rather busy ride quality, and the dual-clutch gearbox feels smooth, almost like a CVT when it’s not in Sport mode (there’s a useful mode dial), but at least it’s not jerky. 

To its credit, the Seltos does have extra go to match its image – it has a 140hp turbocharged engine, so it’ll out-grunt a lot of its competitors off-the-line too, though on the downside it being a taller vehicle, we didn’t find it particularly fuel efficient, netting roughly 8.0L/100km. 

But which to get: EX, SX, or GT Line? 

The idea of delivering more to the small SUV segment is one the Seltos executes well, though as we mentioned it’s not exactly cheap. 

Only the GT Line and SX have air-con seats

While the SX model brings the price down to S$117,999 with COE, that’s still a good S$10k more than a high-spec Honda HR-V. At this price we also lament the lack of active safety features like forward collision warning/mitigation or lane-keeping assists and blind spot monitors. 

To get into the mainstream price zone, you’ll have to go for the Seltos EX, which is S$104,999 with COE. As mentioned in our news story online, it omits the sunroof, automatic air-con, air-con seats, wireless smartphone charger, and head-up display. It also has a smaller instrument display panel, at 3.5-inches versus the 7.0-inch unit on the SX and GT Line, goes with the smaller 8.0-inch infotainment display, and smaller 16-inch wheels.

All Seltos variants still have the mode dial

That actually might be a bonus, since the 16-inch wheels could help deliver a plusher ride, and you still get keyless. Plus, the main draw of the Seltos, its spaciousness and image, are still very much present. A price gap of S$13k is considerable, so despite our love for having a cooled bum, widescreens, and wireless charging, the EX represents the best buy of the Seltos range. 

Kia Seltos 1.4 SX

Engine1,353cc, inline 4, turbocharged 
Power140hp at 6000rpm
Torque242Nm at 1500-3200rpm
Gearbox7-speed dual-clutch 
0-100km/h9.8 seconds 
Top Speed185km/h
Fuel Efficiency6.3L/100km
VES Band / CO2B / 143g/km
AgentKia Singapore 
PriceS$117,999 with COE
Verdict If you’ve the cash the SX delivers an almost premium experience, but the EX preserves the big pluses of the Seltos 

about the author

Derryn Wong
CarBuyer's chief editor has a keen interest in all things mechanical, technological, animal and mineral. He's particularly fascinated by eco-cars and cars which make no logical sense. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he also enjoys cats. Follow him on Instagram @werryndong