Best & Worst Kia Seltos Years

Are you considering getting a Kia Seltos but you are not sure which model year you should buy? Here's the ultimate guide to help you pick the best one!

In this guide, I’ll analyze all Kia Seltos generations, highlighting the best Kia Seltos years to buy and the worst Seltos years to avoid.

Drawing from authoritative sources such as the NHTSA, Consumer Reports, and Kelley Blue Book, we offer insights into reliability, owner satisfaction, and safety ratings.

You’ll explore Kia Seltos’s engine options, common problems, recalls, and resale values that differentiate the best years from the worst, providing a clear guide for potential buyers.

Let’s dive right in!

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Table of ContentsShow

Kia Seltos Generations

The Kia Seltos, first introduced in the 2020 model year, quickly became a crucial player in the competitive subcompact SUV market.

With its striking design, practical interior, and modern features, including advanced safety technologies, efficient powertrain options, and a user-friendly infotainment system, the Seltos offered a compelling package for consumers seeking versatility and value.

Below is a table listing the generation of the Kia Seltos from its launch to the present day.

1st Generation (SP2)2021-Present

Significant changes and improvements between generations, especially in performance, technology, and design, might be the deciding factor for potential buyers.

Kia Seltos Best, Neutral, and Worst Years

When assessing the Kia Seltos’s model years for our rankings and categorizations, we consider a comprehensive array of factors, including:

  • Owner-reported reliability (surveys)
  • Annual maintenance costs
  • Safety ratings
  • Consumer Reports reliability scores
  • Consumer Reports owner satisfaction scores
  • NHTSA recalls, investigations, and complaints
  • Edmunds owner ratings
  • JD Power owner ratings
  • Kelley Blue Book (KBB) owner ratings
  • VehicleHistory owner ratings
  • owner ratings

A forthcoming graph will display the combined ratings from these sources.

Kia Seltos Car Smite Score Combined Overall Score

Next, we present a table categorizing all model years of the Kia Seltos as the best, neutral, and worst years, offering a straightforward guide for potential buyers and enthusiasts.

GenerationBest YearsWorst Years
1st Generation (ON)2022 2023 20242021

Factors like NHTSA recalls can significantly detract from a vehicle’s reliability rating. A higher frequency of complaints and recalls suggests lower reliability for the affected model years.

Let’s dive into the best, neutral, and worst years.

Best & Worst Years for Kia Seltos 1st Generation (2021-Present)

Kia Seltos 1st generation 2021 model
The 2021 Kia Seltos

The Kia Seltos, introduced in 2021, emerged as a fresh contender in the subcompact SUV market, blending distinctive styling with practicality and cutting-edge features.

2022, 2023, and 2024 are the best years for the first-generation Kia Seltos, while the worst year to avoid is 2021.

The Best Years: 2022, 2023, 2024

In its best years, 2022, 2023, and 2024, the Kia Seltos solidified its reputation with performance, technology, and reliability enhancements.

The powertrain lineup became more robust, featuring a standard 2.0L I4 engine delivering 146 hp and an optional 1.6L turbocharged engine producing 175 hp.

These engines were paired with an intelligent continuously variable transmission (CVT) and a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT), respectively, optimizing fuel efficiency and driving dynamics.

Fuel economy stood out, with the 2.0L engine achieving an impressive 29 city/35 highway MPG.

Trim levels expanded to include LX, EX, S, and SX, with the SX offering premium features such as a 10.25-inch touchscreen, Bose audio system, and enhanced safety features like adaptive cruise control and highway driving assist.

Despite these advancements, minor software glitches and infotainment issues were reported but quickly addressed through updates.

The Worst Years: 2021

The 2021 Kia Seltos is the worst model year to avoid, as it was marred by initial production issues that impacted its reliability.

Owners reported problems related to the electrical system and powertrain, including excessive oil consumption, engine knocking, stalling, and transmission failures that affected driving experience and safety.

The 2021 Kia Seltos was also subject to critical recalls for issues such as improperly heat-treated piston oil rings in the 2.0L Nu MPI engines, leading to potential stalling, oil leaks, and engine damage.

See NHTSA 2021 Kia Seltos recalls and complaints.

Kia Seltos Resale Values

Here is an overview of Kia Seltos’s average resale values from 2021.

Kia Seltos Average List Price


According to our analysis, the 2022, 2023, and 2024 Kia Seltos models emerge as the most reliable and feature-rich, making them the best years to buy.

Meanwhile, the 2021 Kia Seltos is the worst model year to avoid due to its initial noted issues.

What are your top priorities when choosing a Kia Seltos model year?

Share your insights in the comments!

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Jonathan Eckert

Jonathan is an ASE-certified mechanic with over 22 years of hands-on experience in the automotive industry. His expertise spans a wide range of vehicles, but he specializes in diagnosing and repairing Japanese cars. His previous workplace highly commended his meticulous attention to detail, and that's exaclty what he uses at Car Smite to craft the best guides for each purpose.