KIA Seltos Enters the U.S. Market: is Chevrolet Trax’s Throne in Jeopardy?

KIA Seltos Enters the U.S. Market: is Chevrolet Trax’s Throne in Jeopardy?

Will the leader of the U.S. subcompact SUV segment get a serious competitor-newbie? Is a duel possible between the Chevrolet Trax and the KIA Seltos?

The Chevrolet Trax led in 2019 among subcompact SUVs in the U.S. car market. In Europe, the model has a sibling – the Opel Mokka. Almost 117,000 Americans opted for the Trax.

The leadership of this subcompact SUV in its niche is undoubted. The Buick Encore and the Honda HR-V follow it, with 102,000 and 99,000 sales, respectively. In addition, demand for the Chevrolet Trax grew by 30% compared to 2018.

However, in 2020, a mini SUV – the KIA Seltos – enters the American market. It’s hard to say now, whether the new product will take away supporters of the Chevrolet Trax. However, the example of the Hyundai Kona, which is rapidly gaining popularity in the United States, makes one think. Since its launch in 2018, 73,000 Konas have been sold. It takes the fifth place in its class.

Why is the American subcompact SUV segment interesting? In terms of sales, it is inferior to the compact SUV segment. Why does the new Seltos draw attention?

In 2019, sales of small (subcompact) SUVs in the USA amounted to 778,000, while 4,122,000 units of larger (compact) SUVs were sold. The consumer interest in these vehicles is decreasing slightly (-3%). The U.S. sales of small crossovers are growing very quickly – by 18% only last year.

Well, the KIA Seltos vs the Chevrolet Trax.

Size: the Seltos is bigger and more practical

Its dimensions are 4,369 x 1,801 x 1,615 mm (172.00 x 70.90 x 63.60 inches) with a wheelbase of 2,629 mm (103.50 in).

The Chevrolet Trax is smaller: 4,247 x 1,775 x 1,648 mm (167.20 x 69.90 x 64.90 inches), the wheelbase is 2,629 mm (100.60 in).

The luggage space in the Seltos also surpasses that of the Trax: 753 vs 530 liters with backseats up, and 1,778 vs 1,370 liters, when folded.

  • Chevrolet Trax photo
  • Chevrolet Trax photo
  • Chevrolet Trax photo

Engine choices

The Trax buyers have no choice. The crossover comes with only one engine – a 1.4-liter 138-hp turbocharged ECOTEC. The fuel consumption is 26-31 mpg (9.0-7.6 l/100 km).

Two engines are available for the Seltos – a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated engine with 146 hp and a 1.6-liter turbocharged 175-hp one. The first consumes on average 29-31 mpg (8.1-7.6 l/100 km), the second – 27 miles per gallon (8.7 l/100 km).

Both crossovers are offered with an automatic transmission, but the entry-level cars have a CVT, while the mid- and top-level versions are equipped with a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox.

  • 2021 Kia Seltos photo
  • Kia Seltos photo
  • Kia Seltos photo

Off-road features

The both models have an all-wheel drive option. Front-wheel drive is available for the Seltos S configuration (AWD comes optional), the rest variants accommodate the Dynamax All-Wheel Drive system.

The KIA Seltos has a higher ground clearance of 7.3 inches (185 mm). This figure for the Chevy Trax is 6.20 in (157 mm).

In addition, the Seltos has decent 28 degrees of the maximum approach / departure angle. In general, its off-road features are more prominent than the Trax’s. At the Los Angeles Auto Show, two Seltos concepts – the X-Line Trail Attack and the X-Line Urban debuted.

KIA Seltos X-Line Trail Attack Concept and Seltos X-Line Urban Concept image
KIA Seltos X-Line Trail Attack Concept and Seltos X-Line Urban Concept

The towing capacity of the Chevrolet Trax is 3,124 lbs (1,417 kg). The KIA Seltos is able to tow from 2,948 to 3,317 lbs (from 1,337 to 1,505 kg), depending on the version.


Prices for the KIA Seltos range from $21,990 to $27,890. The Chevrolet Trax costs from $21,300 to $29,100.


  1. The KIA Seltos is larger and more practical, it provides a choice of engines.
  2. Off-road performance of the KIA Seltos is higher than the Chevrolet Trax’s.
  3. Their prices are comparable.
  4. The KIA Seltos has a good market potential, but for now it is not a strong rival for the Chevrolet Trax.

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