Is the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek or the 2023 Kia Seltos the best subcompact SUV for new model shoppers? In a recent Kelley Blue Book head-to-head competition, they say the Kia Seltos is the Best Buy pick in the subcompact SUV class.
What does KBB say about the 2023 Kia Seltos?
Better fuel economy: The Seltos, in base form, gets 31 mpg combined. The Crosstrek gets 25, as its least-expensive model has a less-efficient manual transmission. Those extra six miles mean savings at the pump — a real plus in today’s market. The Crosstrek does offer a fuel-efficient hybrid option, but with a starting price of almost $37,000, you’ll never make up the price difference in fuel savings.
When you start adding features, prices don’t go up much. A top-of-the-line Seltos SX with every option crosses the $30,000 line, but not by much. A top-of-the-line Crosstrek with all the boxes checked can approach $40,000.
What KBB doesn’t say is the top Crosstrek is the hybrid trim level which no one buys. Subaru only sells a few of these models in California and the Northeast. Check out the complete report here on the Crosstrek Plug-In Hybrid.
Excellent warranty: The Seltos carries Kia’s exceptional 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. The Crosstrek doesn’t come close. The savings start to rack up as the two cars age.
What does KBB say about the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek?
No-cost all-wheel drive: Subaru’s well-regarded Symmetrical all-wheel-drive system is standard on every Crosstrek. This advantage is starting to disappear, as Kia has made all-wheel-drive standard on most trim levels of the Seltos, but it’s still possible to buy a Seltos without it.
Optional plug-in hybrid system: With much of the automotive world going electric, Subaru offers a great middle-ground solution. Its plug-in hybrid option can travel up to 17 miles on electric power alone before the gasoline engine starts. It’s not cheap, starting at $36,845. But if you’re debating whether to go electric or stick with gasoline, Subaru offers a best-of-both-worlds option.
5-Star safety scores: The Seltos scored four stars in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) testing. The Crosstrek took the top score, five stars. Both cars won the Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
“The 2023 Kia Seltos is our Best Buy in this class, and it’s hard to beat its great value for the price and long warranty coverage. But the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek brings standard AWD, a plug-in hybrid option, and Subaru’s great outdoorsy nature to the fight. You won’t go wrong with either one.”
Kelley Blue Book compares the Kia Seltos with the standard Crosstrek with the 2.0-liter engine. The Seltos is underpowered with 146 horsepower compared with the standard Crosstrek’s 152 horsepower. When you get the Crosstrek Sport and Limited trims, the 2.5-liter engine produces 182 horsepower. The Seltos, with the optional 1.6-liter turbo engine, still has only 175 horsepower.
The Kia Seltos has 7.48 inches of ground clearance compared with the Crosstrek’s 8.7 inches. The Crosstrek comes standard with X-Mode for additional all-weather capability, and the Sport and Limited trims have dual-function X-Mode for all-terrain performance.
The Kia Seltos is a good choice for city dwellers, but it’s underpowered for outdoor enthusiasts who will take the small SUV up a mountain pass and want to get further off the grid. Additional ground clearance and all-terrain capabilities are other reasons for active customers to check out the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek.
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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report, where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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