A quick recap: My wife Diana wants to replace her eight-year-old Subaru Impreza with a new vehicle, something with all the latest safety devices; the cameras, sensors, buzzers and warnings her hatchback lacks. The issue, other than the fact she has to stand on tiptoes to hit five feet, are a couple of disabilities that must be accommodated. Di cannot hear out of her right ear, nor does she have sight in her right eye. This makes for a more complicated buying process. Although Di doesn’t want anything with a footprint much larger than her car, she would like something that rides a little higher, which has us looking at subcompact crossovers. After checking out the new Toyota Corolla Cross, which impressed her greatly with its array of safety backups — though she thought it blocky relative to her car — we have now moved on the 2022 Kia Seltos, an addition to Kia’s burgeoning crossover lineup that was introduced in the spring of 2020. It was also Kia’s best-selling vehicle in Canada last year.

Kia uses terms such as “urban ready” and “right sized” to describe the Seltos, which slots between the funky-looking Soul and the larger, compact Sportage. And with the topline SX Turbo (MSRP $32,995) being tested, “spirited” is an equally appropriate word, the trim level is the only one offered — the others being the LX FWD, LX AWD, EX AWD and EX Premium AWD — fitted with a 175-hp, 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder and seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Furthermore, the Seltos comes with a choice of three drive modes — Normal, Eco, Sport — each with specific settings for powertrain, drivetrain and steering mapping to provide the “desired” driving experience.

autos, cars, kia, reviews, android, kia seltos, android, suv review: 2022 kia seltos sx turbo

2022 Kia Seltos SX Turbo Photo by Brian Harper

autos, cars, kia, reviews, android, kia seltos, android, suv review: 2022 kia seltos sx turbo

2022 Kia Seltos SX Turbo Photo by Brian Harper

autos, cars, kia, reviews, android, kia seltos, android, suv review: 2022 kia seltos sx turbo

2022 Kia Seltos SX Turbo Photo by Brian Harper

autos, cars, kia, reviews, android, kia seltos, android, suv review: 2022 kia seltos sx turbo

2022 Kia Seltos SX Turbo Photo by Brian Harper

autos, cars, kia, reviews, android, kia seltos, android, suv review: 2022 kia seltos sx turbo

2022 Kia Seltos SX Turbo Photo by Brian Harper

Diana normally doesn’t much care whether a vehicle is sporty or not, which has me thinking that the EX Premium and its 148-hp 2.0L engine and CVT would be a better, less expensive (by $2,000) option. And if SX’s turbo engine required premium fuel, it would be a non-starter for us, the price of 91 octane ridiculously expensive. But it doesn’t, and Di finds the extra zip refreshing. “It just feels right.” In fact, she is quite taken with the lightweight crossover’s handling and ride dynamics. (For its size, the Kia is quite comfortable. My primary issue is that the dual-clutch transmission upshifts early and not always smoothly in the lower gears.)

But mainly she likes its overall dimensions, the Seltos, at 4,370 mm, shorter than both her Impreza hatchback and the Corolla Cross just tested, which makes it more maneuverable in parking situations.

Being the topline model, the SX Turbo is well equipped, with a full complement of standard features — Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, a 10.25-inch multimedia interface with UVO Intelligence telematics, an eight-speaker Bose sound system, head-up display, heated front and rear seats and air-cooled front seats. It’s a richer environment than the somewhat spartan nature of the Corolla Cross, set off by the seats trimmed in burgundy-coloured leather. However, like the Toyota, Diana had to use a seat cushion in the Seltos to see far enough over the hood, which proved a disappointment. “I think this is a fact I will just have to accept,” she says. And for rearward visibility, the rear-seat headrests had to be removed.

autos, cars, kia, reviews, android, kia seltos, android, suv review: 2022 kia seltos sx turbo

2022 Kia Seltos SX Turbo Photo by Brian Harper

autos, cars, kia, reviews, android, kia seltos, android, suv review: 2022 kia seltos sx turbo

2022 Kia Seltos SX Turbo Photo by Brian Harper

autos, cars, kia, reviews, android, kia seltos, android, suv review: 2022 kia seltos sx turbo

2022 Kia Seltos SX Turbo Photo by Brian Harper

autos, cars, kia, reviews, android, kia seltos, android, suv review: 2022 kia seltos sx turbo

2022 Kia Seltos SX Turbo Photo by Brian Harper

And one other thing that might have been in the Seltos’ favour, at least for those vertically challenged, is a lower reach to grab the rear hatch pull-down. However, it’s manually operated. The Corolla Cross offers a power rear hatch in its highest XLE trim, which, fully open, requires a longer reach, but can be adjusted to a lower height. It also opens and closes by simply pushing the button on the key fob.

Still, it’s the Seltos’ safety features that matter most. Kia claims the crossover comes equipped “with an abundance of passive and active tech to help you stay safe and connected on the road.” A blind-spot detection warning system is standard and, paired with the rear-cross traffic alert and rear-view camera, helps alleviate rear blind spots to make parking easier and safer. There are other backups as well, such as forward collision avoidance and lane keep assists.

autos, cars, kia, reviews, android, kia seltos, android, suv review: 2022 kia seltos sx turbo

Diana Harper tests the Kia Seltos SX Turbo Photo by Brian Harper

But, ultrasonic rear backup sensors, the very things that made the Corolla Cross so easy to park in tight spots, are conspicuously absent from the Seltos. This is more than a concern, it’s likely a deal breaker, the only possible compromise is buying aftermarket front and rear sensors and having them installed on the Kia. And that still wouldn’t include the display in the dash that provides the visual warning to go with the beeps, a little feature Di found particularly useful.

So, weighing the pros (a more engaging drive and a nicer interior) and the cons (not as easy to park) has the Seltos SX Turbo coming up short in the things Diana needs to boost her comfort level. The Toyota Corolla Cross continues to lead.

The search continues. Next up, Subaru’s Crosstrek.

Keyword: SUV Review: 2022 Kia Seltos SX Turbo

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