The 2021 Kia Seltos starts at $21,990, which is consistent with a growing number of crossovers that slot in between sub-compact models (Hyundai Kona, Kia Soul, etc) and compact models (Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, etc). The Mazda CX-30 would be another example, and while the Mazda's engaging driving experience and stylish near-luxury interior are its prime selling points, the Seltos boasts expressive color combinations, distinctive styling details throughout and an ample amount of interior space that rivals bigger, pricier SUVs. As I discovered at the L.A. Auto Show, that includes Kia's own Sportage, which may have more power and higher-quality interior materials (plus a higher price), but has roughly the same passenger space and less maximum cargo capacity. To these eyes, it also looks worse.
On paper, the Seltos has 26.6 cubic-feet of cargo room behind the back seat, which would indeed be greater than sub-compact models but less than the CR-V's of the world. The CX-30 has 20.1 cubic-feet and you can see its luggage test here.
Like some other crossovers, including next week's Mercedes GLB, the Seltos has a dual-height cargo floor. The upper height is pretty much there to meet up with the folded rear seatbacks to create a flat-ish load floor. Since there's only a spare tire and bare metal below it, I saw no reason to test the cargo capacity with the high-floor setup. It seems logical that Seltos owners would almost exclusively use the lower, more voluminous floor height.
On to the luggage. I use two midsize roller suitcases that would need to be checked in at the airport (26 inches long, 16 wide, 11 deep), two roll-aboard suitcases that just barely fit in the overhead (24L x 15W x 10D), and one smaller roll-aboard that fits easily (23L x 15W x 10D). I also include my wife's fancy overnight bag just to spruce things up a bit (21L x 12W x 12D).
That would be all the roller bags (no fancy bag) even with the rigid, hatchback-style cargo cover in place. Excellent. That's the same amount of bags as the CX-30 could manage with NO cargo cover. Basically, the size difference indicated on paper is confirmed.
Remove the Seltos cargo cover and not only does the fancy bag fit, but there'd be room for another duffel bag.
This amount of height and width is comparable to those crossovers that are technically a size up in the "compact" category. The difference, though, is cargo area depth. You can note in the Mazda CX-5 Luggage Test the extra space between the bags and the liftgate lip.
One more detail: the back seat reclines. The test thus far was done with the more upright setting demonstrated by the above 40 portion of the 60/40-split seat. That amount of recline is actually quite comfortable. Yet, with the cargo area full and the liftgate closed, I still managed to recline the seat fully to its more indulgent angle. In other words, the amount of luggage would be unchanged even with the most reclined seating position. And therefore, you'd also eek out a little extra room if you put the seats fully upright.
In total, the Seltos does in fact provide more useful space than normal for this in-betweener segment. That it's also graced with eye-pleasing proportions and stylish details goes to show you can get form and function for not a lot of money.