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2021 Kia Seltos Compact Crossover Unveiled at 2019 LA Auto Show With $22K Starting Price

It's based on the Hyundai Kona and packs available all-wheel-drive on the cheap.

With this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show underway, Kia is using the spotlight to reveal its new active-inspired subcompact crossover, the 2021 Seltos. It’s the Korean automaker’s pitch at a more all-terrain-biased utility vehicle—think of it as a Jeep Compass or Ford Escape competitor. Although it launched abroad earlier this year, Wednesday marks its official arrival here in the United States.

The Seltos is based on the same platform as the Hyundai Kona and is accordingly similar in size, shape, and overall profile, slotting just above the popular Soul and below the Sportage. It incorporates the automaker’s latest styling language and touts some of the more upscale appointments ushered in by the three-row Telluride, but with significantly smaller proportions.

Kia’s newest model brings with it a dash of off-road moxie thanks to 7.2-inches worth of ground clearance and available all-wheel-drive. By selecting the AWD option, you gain torque vectoring and a locking center differential for optimizing grip on loose surfaces, as well as a multi-link rear suspension.

Robin Trajano for Kia USA

Launching in the first quarter of 2020, the Seltos will arrive with five trims: base LX, EX, S 2.0L, S 1.6T, and top-spec SX. If the names of these variants were any indication, there are two engine options available: a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four-banger good for 146 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque, or a 1.6-liter turbo-four which ups the power output to 175 hp and 195 pound-feet.

The 2.0-liter gets an “IVT” continuously variable transmission while the turbo-four benefits from a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic.

And of course, being a Kia, value is a priority and the Seltos offers plenty of it. All Seltos models come standard with Kia’s Drive Wise package of active and passive Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, bundling up driver inattentiveness warnings, forward collision avoidance, highway driving assist, land departure and keep assist, radar-guided cruise control, rear-cross traffic alert, and a new system that alerts of unsafe door opening on either side of the vehicle when street parked.

Pricing starts at just under $22,000.

**Asian-specification model pictured in gallery above.