June 2020 Savvy Driver
Whatever Entry Point You’re At, You’ll Find A Small SUV That Meets the Mark
The newest small SUVs from Lexus, Hyundai and KIA were carefully added to their line-ups to provide unique solutions. Lexus’ UX 2000 is an entry to luxury while Hyundai’s Venue rocks as a true affordable entry-level vehicle. The 2021 Seltos adds another subcompact alternative for Kia.
Lexus UX 200
Even at the base level, Lexus’ UX 200 comes standard with leather upholstery and luxury level tech features. It offers all that Lexus stands for, just in a smaller package designed to lure young buyers in and get them hooked on the brand, or perhaps baby boomers looking to downsize. While pricing can start in the mid-30K range, our test car was $41,700 fully loaded with the F Sport trim adding a sport-tuned suspension, LED foglights, an augmented engine sound generator, steering-wheel paddle shifters, sport front seats, and an upgraded digital gauge cluster, plus a head-up display and nav system with eight-speaker sound system.
Aspiring to give your millennial child a rare opportunity to learn to drive a manual transmission vehicle? Check out the Hyundai Venue. Whether you choose the six-speed manual or the Hyundai Smartstream Intelligent Variable Transmission, both will be front-wheel-drive, mated to a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine producing 121horsepower. For as little as $17,350 the Venue is smart looking inside and out with smooth ride quality and offers an impressive list of standards–Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility on Venue’s 8-inch touchscreen, forward collision warning with automatic braking, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert, Our test vehicle was the automatic rated at 32 mpg combined. With the SEL mid-trim level, its total price tag of $23,405 included a Convenience Package adding power sunroof, sliding armrest, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and shift knob, and two extra collision warning features plus a Premium Package adding heated front seats, LED lights, Proximity Key with push-button start, 8-inch color touchscreen with nav and Hyundai’s Blue Link communications system linking with Amazon Alexa and Google Home devices to provide remote starting.
A brand new nameplate and the first 2021 model we drove, Kia’s Seltos retains some of the maneuverability and the cool sound system with mood lighting of the Soul, Kia’s other subcompact SUV. Seltos is just slightly higher priced with a longer more sophisticated and practical body that makes it a more mainstream option. Its included tech features meet all the heightened expectations of a 2021 model vehicle. More cargo room and all-wheel-drive (standard on all but the base model), will make the new Kia popular, and interestingly Seltos has hill descent control and a locking center differential that make it somewhat capable for some light off-roading or when the weather challenges. The standard engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder matched with a continuously variable automatic transmission good for 146 horsepower. Our tester was the SX AWD with a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder making 175 hp and paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic with special paint and floor mats putting it at $29,485.