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In honor of Kia's 1st anniversary since its return and to celebrate being the best-selling brand currently imported by AC Motors, Kia Philippines hosted an epic media drive to Baler. With 38 members of the media in 10 SUVs, the group motored towards the scenic coastal province of Baler, in Aurora Province. The route was a mix of city traffic, stretches of open highway, provincial roads, and twisty mountain passes that allowed the drivers to give the Seltos a proper shakedown.

2020 Kia Seltos Drive 02

The Seltos is the true embodiment of Kia Philippines’ new marketing tagline, 'Designed for You.'” It is not just any crossover but one that has its owner’s needs in mind,” Aligada said during the briefing. “The Seltos is not the only vehicle that is “Designed for You” but the entire Kia lineup as well,” he added.

The Seltos crossover was the latest vehicle to be unboxed by Kia Philippines. Despite only being launched in November of 2019, it made a significant contribution to the brand's record-breaking sales that year. The Seltos also enjoyed similar popularity when it was launched in the Korean and Indian markets.

The New Seltos

Although it is categorized as a subcompact, the new Seltos crossover is noticeably bigger than its counterparts. To be honest, we were quite apprehensive when we found out we were going to be 4-to-a-vehicle during our over 500-kilometer drive, but it was enough room for us and our luggage, with a little bit more to spare.

The Seltos is quite a looker with Kia's signature Tiger Nose grille in between its tantalizing "eyes." Much attention was put into its design and LED lights abound especially for the SX variant that has it for its head and tail lights, extended daytime running lamps and signature position lamps. Its muscular stature is a combination of boxy and curvy styling is very European in the sense that (if you squint your eyes a bit) you can see hints of a Range Rover and BMW X-series in its silhouette.

From the side, its chiseled flank adds character to its profile. Its beltline that starts at the tip of the headlights, diminishes around the middle, and then continues towards the edge of the extended tail lamp cover makes my OC heart happy. It's these straight lines that give the Seltos' profile the look of continuous motion.

Under the hood is a 2.0-liter Dual CVVT-equipped engine that produces 146.9 hp @6,200rpm and 179 Nm @ 4,500rpm. The power plant is mated to Kia’s Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT) with Drive Mode Select, the engine-transmission combo that allows the driver to switch from Eco, Normal, or Sport Mode on the fly. IVT allows for a better, more natural acceleration feel than with a CVT. It also claims to be more fuel-efficient, too. In Sport Mode, the engine stays on a high rev for better throttle response for the times you need the extra punch like when we traversed the twisties Aurora. On the other side of the spectrum is Eco mode that is the most fuel-efficient option and is ideal for daily use. Steering is light courtesy of its motor-driven power steering and its quite nimble on its stock 17-inch allow wheels.

Inside, the Seltos isn't the plushest, but its dark interiors are far from shabby. The textured hard plastics on the dash and door panels are peppered with chrome accents that make things interesting while keeping them easy to clean. The cubbies and bottle holders on the doors are always useful, and so are the cup holders, dual power outlets, and USB ports in the center console. These, plus its 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, a rearview camera, and full fold rear seats are present in all variants.

Seating and legroom is always an issue with subcompacts, but not with the Seltos. Its firm lumbar support for the front seats are great for long and short drives alike, and the rear seating has ample legroom and cushioning as well. The rear backrest that slightly reclines also makes it easier to find a comfortable position. A good tip for when traveling with a child is to install the car seat on the passenger side (of the rear seat!) so that you can make the most out of the 60/40 folding seats without compromising the baby. (You're welcome.)

The Seltos' 3-spoke steering wheel has tilt and telescopic adjustments for easier positioning. Audio and Bluetooth switches are present for all variants, with the addition of cruise control for EX and SX trims. Oh and for those who are still wary of push-button ignition -- and I know you're out there -- the base- and mid variants (LX and EX) still use a physical key paired with its keyless entry.

Overall, the Seltos sits on the sweet spot between a cramped subcompact and the bigger 8-seaters both in size and in the powertrain. Its 2-liter engine does away with its competitors' problems of being underpowered and is quite a fun drive. It's great as a daily driver and has proven to be a worthy tourer as well. No matter which variant suits your needs and budget, the Seltos would be a great addition to anyone's garage.

The 2020 Kia Seltos crossover is available in three (3) variants: LX (PhP 1.098M); EX (PhP 1.198M); and SX (PhP 1.505M). Check out the complete spec sheet here.

For more information about Kia Philippines, log on to www.kia.com/ph or visit any of its 33 dealerships nationwide.