Best small SUV under $40,000

Every judge who drove the Kia Seltos was pleasantly surprised. Some even said if they blind-tested the car, they would’ve guessed it was a premium brand.  

Winner: Kia Seltos Sport

Variant: Sport Engine: 2.0 litre petrol Transmission: CVT ANCAP Safety Rating: Not yet available
The Seltos also delivers a category-leading ergonomics experience.

The Seltos delivers a category-leading ergonomic experience.

Runners up

Second place went to the Hyundai Kona Go and the Hyundai Venue Active placed third.

What sets it apart from the rest

Value for money was never going to decide this contest as there’s only around a $2000 price difference between the three SUV finalists. There’s also little difference in running and repair costs or fuel consumption, however the Seltos gets a small boost from good warranty and standard features scores. The Seltos also delivers a category-leading ergonomic experience. A huge 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen is extremely clear and intuitive to use, and it has superior door, dash and seat materials that are mostly soft to the touch. Space in the second row will comfortably seat 2 adults over long distances.

Key features

  • Interior and drive have a distinctly upmarket feel
  • Economical 2.0 litre petrol engine
  • A smooth CVT gearbox
  • Great running and repair costs
  • Very quiet with good sound insulation
  • Good level of in-cabin tech.
The Seltos' transmission is one of the best of its type.

The Kia Seltos’ transmission is one of the best of its type.


What it’s like to drive

There’s very little separating each of the podium finishers in on-road performance. Both the Seltos and Kona have 2.0 litre petrol engines, while the Venue Active gets a 1.6 litre. Predictably the Venue, with its smaller capacity engine, gives some ground away to others in terms of performance, however it isn’t streets away. Disappointingly, there’s no payback at the bowser as the Venue is equal highest of the finalists with the Kona for official combined cycle fuel economy figures. The 2 Hyundais feature a 6-speed auto transmission, but the Seltos uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that’s one of the best of its type, giving an almost perfect imitation of a traditional auto transmission.

How the finalists compared (scores for each category from 1-10)

    Images: Mark Rogers, Magnum Photography Australia         Array|Array|Array|Array|Array