Compact SUVs are great all-around vehicles. Most offer plenty of passenger and cargo space for a small family, a form compact enough to maneuver in urban confines, and enough power to handle any driving situation. The Kia Seltos is one of the most well-rounded — a great value available in expressive colors. The Subaru Crosstrek is a distinctive choice with a rugged image and a plug-in hybrid option.

Let’s examine why a new car shopper might want to test drive each.

2023 Kia Seltos

The Kia Seltos just repeated as the winner of our Best Buy Award in its class. It’s a great all-around crossover with stylish looks and a long list of features for a modest price. Most trims include all-wheel drive (AWD), and it packs a lot of cargo space into a small, easy-parking footprint. Prices start at $23,340. View listings near you.

Kia Seltos Highlights

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-like Crosstrek with all the boxes checked can approach $40,000.

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.

2023 Subaru Crosstrek

2023 Subaru Crosstrek in blue.

The 2023 Subaru Crosstrek is the entry point into Subaru’s well-regarded lineup of wagon-like SUVs. Like most Subaru models, it boasts all-wheel drive (AWD) even in base form and is as comfortable off the road as on it. A plug-in hybrid option is pricey but allows you to drive up to 17 miles on electric power alone. Prices start at $23,645. View listings near you.

Subaru Crosstrek Highlights

No-cost all-wheel drive: Subaru’s well-regarded symmetrical AWD system is standard on every Crosstrek. This advantage is starting to disappear, as Kia has made AWD standard on most trim levels of the Seltos, but it’s still possible to buy a Seltos without.

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).


Both the Seltos and the Crosstrek use 4-cylinder base engines with an available turbocharged upgrade. Both make Android Auto and Apple CarPlay standard equipment and claim similar passenger space.


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.

2023 Kia Seltos 2023 Subaru Crosstrek
Starting Price $23,340 $23,645
Popular Powertrains
Engine 2.0-liter 4-cylinder 2.0-liter 4-cylinder
Horsepower 146 hp @ 6,200 rpm 152 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque 132 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm 145 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission CVT automatic 6-speed manual
Fuel Economy 29 city/35 highway/31 combined mpg 22 city/29 highway/25 combined mpg
Also Available 1.6-liter turbo 4-cylinder; 7-speed automatic; AWD 2.5-liter 4-cylinder; CVT auto; PHEV
Basic Warranty 5 years/60,000 miles 3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty 10 years/100,000 miles 5 years/60,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety 4 stars 5 stars
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 103.5 inches 104.9 inches
Overall Length 172.0 inches 176.5 inches
Width 70.9 inches 71.0 inches
Height 63.6 inches 63.6 inches
Turning Diameter 34.8 feet 35.4 feet
Headroom, Front 40.0 inches 39.8 inches
Headroom, Rear 38.4 inches 38.0 inches
Legroom, Front 41.4 inches 43.1 inches
Legroom, Rear 38.0 inches 36.5 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 55.5 inches 56.7 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 54.7 inches 55.6 inches
Cargo Volume 26.6/62.8 cubic feet 20.8/55.3 cubic feet

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