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Subaru Crosstrek Vs. Kia Seltos - KBB Says Crosstrek Is Not The Best Buy

Is the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek or the 2023 Kia Seltos the best subcompact SUV in a head-to-head competition? See why Kelley Blue Book says the Crosstrek is not the best buy this year.


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.

2023 Subaru Crosstrek Vs. Kia Seltos

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.

2023 Subaru Crosstrek Vs. Kia Seltos

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).

KBB’s conclusion

“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.”

Our take

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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Photo credit: Subaru


Gus (not verified)    January 26, 2023 - 11:43AM

Except one is a giant pile and you can’t trust it. The other one has proven quite reliable and holds resale second to a few Toyotas.
You need that warranty with your Kia.
Sure, Subarus have problems, but when the competition is a Kia, well… it’s no contest.
Also, if I needed to depend on traction, I’m not shopping at Kia.
Kia, too bad it’s a Kia.

mw (not verified)    March 28, 2023 - 6:13AM

In reply to by Gus (not verified)

Never had an issue with KIA - over 150 to 200K on all of them, nothing but oil changes and tires. Subaru can be
loud, rough, and poor mileage. Noticed the Crosstrek sales have really fallen off, too bad.

10e (not verified)    January 27, 2023 - 7:53AM

I know about seven people who have had Kia's, and the only one who didn't experience early engine failure.

One of them went through FOUR engines in 240,000 kms in his Optima.

I don't know anyone who has owned a Subaru who has had this catastrophic of an issue. So the Kia needs that better warranty, and hopefully the owner needs a spare car that's readily available for the many days the Kia will be repaired under warranty.