Kia used to be cheap and cheerful, but it’s quickly becoming flashy and hard to get a hold of.

With waits of around six months, the Seltos SUV is a hot commodity right now.

It’s been updated with a new badge, and its price has risen in line with the rest of the Kia range as parts shortages, skyrocketing shipping costs, and big demand take their toll.

The 2022 Kia Seltos S on test here sits one step above the bottom end of the range, because it’s been fitted with the optional Safety Pack.

Along with a more advanced AEB system, it brings safety equipment usually reserved for the Sport+ and GT-Line.

Given it takes on a massive pool of rivals, and given it’s part of a sprawling range, should you bother waiting for a Seltos S?

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WATCH: Paul’s video review of the Seltos GT-Line AWD

How much does the Kia Seltos S cost?

On test we are is the Kia Seltos S with Safety Pack, which is priced from $28,290 before on-road costs. It’s $1000 more expensive than then S without the Safety Pack.

There is a $520 premium for the paint on our test vehicle and what seems like every colour but Starbright Yellow.

Competitors include the Volkswagen T-Roc (from $35,500), Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross (from $32,990) and the Hyundai Kona (from $26,900).

Don’t think the Kia skimps on standard equipment, though. More on that in a bit.

2022 Kia Seltos pricing:

  • Kia Seltos S 2.0 FWD: $27,290
  • Kia Seltos S with Safety Pack 2.0 FWD: $28,290
  • Kia Seltos Sport 2.0 FWD: $30,290
  • Kia Seltos Sport with Safety Pack 2.0 FWD: $31,290
  • Kia Seltos Sport+ 2.0 FWD: $33,790
  • Kia Seltos Sport+ 1.6T AWD: $37,290
  • Kia Seltos GT-Line 1.6T AWD: $42,700

Prices exclude on-road costs

What is the Kia Seltos S like on the inside?

When I first jumped into the Seltos, like all Kias of late, the simplicity of the interior stood out. It’s clean and simple, led by the black dashboard with its sliver of silver trim.

The 8.0-inch infotainment screen is prominent in the middle of the dash, but looks like it belongs.

Even though the infotainment is driven through a touchscreen, there are easy access buttons on the side. Something Kia is known for the refinement in its infotainment, the Seltos is no exception.

Everything works great and is very easy to navigate. It is fitted with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto which is wireless and the only negative thing I can say about this unit is that it still doesn’t hold a perfect wireless connection.

Previous versions of the system have been known for bugging out when connected to wireless phone mirroring, but Kia has worked hard to solve the issue. Current versions of the infotainment system are far more reliable.

Air-conditioning controls sit beneath the vents. The pod is simple, but it’s easy to navigate at a glance.

There is a storage compartment beneath that which has USB ports, as it’s large enough for a phone, some glasses, and a charging cable. Around the gear selector are buttons which are blank, which is an indication I am in the base model.

Behind that there are two cupholders, with the parking brake and auto hold control next to that. There’s also a little slot that would be a perfect spot for your key… if this Seltos didn’t require you put an old-fashioned key in a barrel.

There’s also a decently-sized armrest with a decent amount of storage underneath. The material used for all the armrests is nice and soft, likewise the door panels which kept my elbows nice and happy.

The seats being fabric, which is obviously cheaper than leather, are still extremely comfortable. They’re manual to move, but bodies of all shapes and sizes will be able to get comfortable.

There is a decent amount amount of space in the rear, enough room for a baby seat – a rear-facing one at that.

However, there are no rear seat pockets, rear seat drink holders, rear air vents, or charging ports, which as a mum makes it hard to juggle the iPads, drink bottles, and rising temperatures. It makes the base Seltos less capable as a family car, which is disappointing.

Behind the second row is 468 litres of boot space and 1428L with the rear seats folded. It’s a very decent boot size and larger than some bigger, more expensive cars can claim.

The Seltos S is fitted with a space-saver as opposed to the full-sized spare found in other variants, however.

What’s under the bonnet?

All front-wheel drive Kia Seltos models are powered by a 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine driving the front wheels via a CVT automatic. 

Outputs are quoted at 110kW (6200rpm and 180Nm (4500rpm), which is about on par for this segment.

Fuel use is a claimed 6.9L/100km however at test I got around the 7.2L/100km mark in mixed highway and city driving.

The Seltos is happy to run on 91 RON unleaded, which keeps prices down. The fuel tank measures 50 litres.

How does the Kia Seltos S drive?

It seems the only updates that have been made have been to Seltos are away from the drivetrain. It carries through the strengths and weaknesses of last year’s model, which is mostly a good thing.

The 2.0-litre petrol engine isn’t anything to get excited about, but for regular driving it is quite a punchy engine.

Being a CVT we expected lots of revs and an unrefined drive, but the reality is much better than that.

It isn’t totally seamless, but it’s a nice transmission that fades into the background in regular driving, and gives you plenty of confidence when you’re pulling out into traffic. Provided you don’t nail the accelerator it behaves a lot like a normal automatic, though the changes between “gears” is a touch slurry.

Usually, the CVT is the poor relation in a model range. In the case of the Seltos, it’s actually a nicer transmission than the dual-clutch transmission available in the Sport+ and GT-Line AWD grades.

Handling wise, the suspension is exactly what you’d hope for in a base model. It’s comfortable over speed bumps and potholes in the city, thanks in part to its small wheels and tall tyres. Sure, they look a bit basic, but they make the ride much more comfortable.

At low speeds, the steering is light enough to make parking simple. The hasn’t come at the cost of highway stability, though.

The road-holding and stability at triple figures is impressive, and despite the relatively meek outputs on paper the 2.0-litre engine and CVT combo hum along quietly at around 2000rpm on the freeway.

Being fitted with a rear beam torsion bar suspension as opposed to the multi-link rear suspension on the AWD models doesn’t take away from the driving experience either.

Unfortunately, some of Kia’s safety features such as lane-keep assist are very grabby. It’s not something I enjoyed at all, as it almost feels like you’re competing with the car for control at times.

Thankfully it can be turned off, and the rest of the driver assists are well-calibrated. Adaptive cruise control (part of the optional Safety Pack) works well and makes highway driving a breeze.

It’s a shame Kia charges extra for them, though.

What do you get?

Seltos S highlights:

  • 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (wireless)
  • Reversing camera
  • Rear parking sensors
  • 16-inch steel wheels
  • Cruise control
  • Six-speaker sound system
  • Space-saver spare wheel
  • Tilt-and-telescopic adjustable steering column
  • Automatic headlights
  • Auto high-beam
  • Air conditioning

The optional Safety Pack adds:

  • AEB with:
    • Cyclist detection
    • Junction Assist
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Driver Attention Alert+
  • Electric park brake with Auto Hold
  • Electric folding side mirrors
  • Auto up/down driver’s window

Is the Kia Seltos S safe?

When the Kia Seltos was tested by ANCAP in 2019, it received a five-star safety rating.

All models received an adult occupant protection score of 85 per cent, child occupant protection score of 83 per cent, vulnerable road user protection score of 61 per cent and a safety assist score of 70 per cent.

Seltos S and Sport models fitted with the optional Safety Pack as well as the Sport+ and GT-Line grades fared better in the vulnerable road user (68 per cent) and safety assist (78 per cent) categories thanks to the more sophisticated AEB Fusion system that adds cyclist detection.

All Seltos models come standard with:

  • AEB with pedestrian detection
  • Driver Attention Alert
  • Forward collision warning
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane-keep assist
  • Reversing camera w/ dynamic guidelines

The optional Safety Pack for S and Sport models add:

  • AEB with cyclist detection
  • AEB with Junction Assist
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Driver Attention Alert+
  • Electric park brake
  • Larger rear disc brakes

Seltos Sport+ adds:

  • Blind-spot assist
  • Rear cross-traffic assist

Seltos GT-Line adds:

  • Lane Following Assist (centring)

How much does the Kia Seltos S cost to run?

Kia offers seven years of capped-price servicing in addition to its seven-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.

The Kia Seltos 2.0-litre requires servicing every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first.

When equipped with the 2.0-litre four, the Seltos has an average cost per service of $402 over the first seven years of ownership.

CarExpert’s Take on the Kia Seltos S

Kia has clearly listened to the people on this one, and produced a car that is an SUV that deftly balances space inside with reasonably compact dimensions on the outside.

It provides what we expected for the price. It’s a solid performer without being too flashy, and the budget cuts don’t take away from the fact this is an excellent car.

If you are someone who wants some more oomph in your car, the GT-Line is certainly hard hard to fault. However, if flashy isn’t your thing, the Seltos S is an impressive vehicle.

Just make sure you tick the Safety Pack box.

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MORE: Everything Kia Seltos

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