After a week of testing across 17 categories in Cars.com’s Affordable Small SUV Challenge, the 2021 Kia Seltos was the winner — but only by a little. The all-new SUV earned 226 out of 350 possible points, enough to top the rival Subaru Crosstrek (218 points), Mazda CX-30 (213) and Chevrolet Trailblazer (211). That means the spread between the highest- and lowest-rated was just 15 points.
In other words, the last-place finisher got only about 7% fewer points than the top car. Compare that against the previous time we stacked up the class — two years ago, also between four SUVs — when the last-place finisher had 25% fewer points than the top dog. That’s more typical of the margin between winners and losers in our comparison tests, even with relatively few cars. This time around, the Seltos’ victory came against a competitive group, and its margin of victory was slight.
Better Contenders to Begin With?
Maybe that’s because we avoided less competitive models with older roots, such as the Ford EcoSport or Chevrolet Trax, in favor of just a few of the latest rivals plus the reigning-champ Crosstrek. But a closer look at this year’s comparison shows many incremental victories for the Seltos and no major losses. It’s slightly better at a lot of things, and it stank up the place in no particular area.