Kia XCeed Review
The Kia XCeed has a higher ride height, good infotainment, cheap-to-run engines and lots of kit as standard. There are more comfortable SUVs with better rear space, though.
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
- Infotainment system
- Efficient engines
- Generous standard equipment
What's not so good
- Bumpy in town
- So-so digital dials
- Average rear space
Kia XCeed: what would you like to read next?
If you’d announced in the 90s that one day people would be turning down city cars and saloons for pumped-up hatchbacks and SUVs, you’d probably have received some weird looks. Still, here we are, and here’s yet another option: the Kia XCeed.
Recognise the name? That’s because the XCeed is based on the Kia Ceed – the Korean manufacturer’s hatchback that offers an alternative to cars such as the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus. However, the raised-up XCeed is an alternative to various higher-riding cars such as the Volkswagen T-Cross, Skoda Karoq and Ford Focus Active.
Indeed, the XCeed is slightly taller, wider and longer than the Ceed, but also has a higher ground clearance for tackling urban obstacles. At the front are a longer bonnet, new bumper and grille, and different headlights, while its wheel arches, rear bumper and tail-lights are chunkier too.
Inside it’s very similar to the standard Ceed in terms of style and quality, but going for a mid-range 3 car or higher brings a new 10-inch widescreen infotainment system (entry-level cars get an 8-inch version) with built-in sat-nav. It’s all very easy to operate, although Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard across the range and your iPhone or Android phone’s maps are even better – especially for traffic updates.
At first glance, the XCeed doesn’t really look like an SUV. However, it’s actually wider, longer and taller than the Ceed hatchback on which it’s based. Honest.
The Kia XCeed is also the first Kia to get fully digital driver’s dials, although only on range-topping First Edition trim. It’s visually appealing, clear to understand and you can cycle through a small amount of trip info, but it doesn’t have customisable views like VW’s version.
Space inside is a mixed bag. Those in the front have plenty of it and the driver will find it easy to get a good driving position, but two adults in the back will find knee room a little tight if they’re tall. Adding a third person in the rear middle seat will make things even less comfortable on longer trips, but at least the XCeed’s boot is both a good size and fairly practical shape.
Petrol or diesel power is available now and eventually so too will be a plug-in hybrid. If you’re going to spend most of your time in town then either the turbocharged 120hp 1.0-litre or turbo 140hp 1.4 petrols will be the best bets. If you’re often hacking up and down motorways or on longer journeys over hilly terrain then the 136hp 1.6-litre diesel with its stronger low-revs pull and better fuel economy at a cruise is a wiser choice.
Whichever engine you buy, don’t expect to be blown away by the XCeed’s drive. It steers with enough precision, grips well and doesn’t lean too much in corners, but the emphasis is on comfort rather than cornering. That said, while the XCeed’s raised and revised suspension feels wafty at speed, it does get caught out over sharper bumps and potholes in town.
If you love the XCeed’s looks, then, it has boot space, infotainment and generous standard equipment on its side, but bear in mind there are comfier and roomier SUV alternatives such as the VW T-Cross and Skoda Karoq that are worth test driving too.
The XCeed shares much of the standard Ceed’s interior. As such, it’s sturdy and attractive, and Kia’s new 10-inch widescreen infotainment is a pleasant system too.
It’s mainly good news for the XCeeds’s passengers: those in the front have lots of space, while only tall adults will find knee room in the back tight. The boot is generous, too.
The standard Ceed isn’t the most spacious among alternative hatchbacks and the same is true for the XCeed versus its competition.
Still, two adults will have no issues in the front with headroom or shoulder room, while the driver benefits from the wide range of seat and steering wheel adjustment. Spending more on mid-range ‘3’ trim brings electric lumbar adjustment as standard, while range-topping First Edition models also get a memory function.
In the back seats, the news is a little less positive. Headroom is good, but two adults in the back will find knee room a little tight if they’re over six-foot. Adding a third adult in the rear middle seat will make things even less comfortable on longer trips.
The Kia XCeed might not be the best for carrying adults in the back, but at least its numerous spacious storage bins mean you won’t have trouble keeping its cabin looking factory fresh. The front door bins are big enough to hold a 1.5-litre bottle and there’s enough space under the central armrest and in the roomy glovebox for a few bulky valuables.
You get two sizeable cupholders in the front and there’s a pair of extra cupholders built into the folding rear armrest. The rear door bins aren’t quite as cavernous as those in the front, but they’re still big enough to hold a 1.0-litre bottle.
At 426 litres, the XCeed’s boot is bigger than a standard Ceed’s, and not far off the impressive VW T-Cross’s effort either. That said, both are some way behind the boot space of a Skoda Karoq.
Still, the XCeed’s boot has good access and a powered tailgate comes as standard on range-topping First Edition models. There’s a slight lip to lift bags over, the boot is a practical shape once they’re inside.
On ‘2’ and ‘3’ models, the XCeed’s rear seats can be split in a 60:40 configuration and then folded down flat, while on First Edition models they split in a more practical 40:20:40 manner – great for sliding longer items through from the boot between two rear passengers.
There’s a decent range of efficient engines to choose between and a plug-in hybrid on the way but to drive, the XCeed is good rather than great.
Nobody buys a small SUV to get their driving kicks, and don’t expect to get any from the XCeed. More importantly, it’s comfortable and quiet – just don’t expect it to raise your pulse.
The Kia XCeed will eventually be available with five different engines – petrol, diesel and a plug-in hybrid. The petrols start with a turbocharged 1.0-litre, which produces 120hp. That’s the slowest engine of the range, but won’t feel out of its depth in town and should manage around 45mpg if driven carefully. Ultimately, it’s the best option if most of your driving is urban.
If you really can’t live with the 1.0-litre’s straight-line performance, there is also a turbocharged 1.4 with 140hp, which feels decently swift, but will use more fuel in the process.
If you’re doing mainly motorway miles, or often travel long distances, it’ll make more sense to buy a diesel. There are a couple of 1.6-litre engines to choose between, the first with 115hp and fuel economy of 52mpg, although this will feel a little bit sluggish from a standstill. You’re better off spending a little more and going for the 136hp version, which feels noticeably quicker from 50-70mph on the motorway and will actually officially return slightly a slightly better 53mpg.
Later down the line, a plug-in petrol-electric hybrid will join the range, with a 1.6-litre petrol engine and electric motors giving 141hp. It’ll also be able to cover nearly 40 miles on battery power alone. With the right charging facilities available, this could be the cheapest model to run.
A six-speed manual gearbox comes as standard with every model and its pleasant to use, if not quite as precise as the best manuals around. Sadly, only the 1.4-litre petrol can be had with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, although it can be a little hesitant at lower speeds in town.
Whichever engine you buy, don’t expect to be blown away by the XCeed’s drive. Like many of its alternatives, it steers with precision, grips well and doesn’t lean too much in corners, but the emphasis is on comfort rather than cornering. Ultimately a Ford Focus Active feels more alert on the right road.
That said, while the XCeed’s raised and revised suspension feels wafty at speed, it does get caught out over some sharper bumps and potholes at lower speeds in town, especially on ‘3’ and First Edition cars with larger 18-inch alloy wheels. A Volkswagen T-Cross and Skoda Kaorq both feel more competent at ironing out the same bumps.
At least the XCeed’s good turning circle, light steering, decent forward visibility and a standard reversing camera make town driving easy. And on the motorway where bumps are less of an issue, the XCeed also feels nicely planted and doesn’t wander about its lane. There’s little wind or road noise to disturb the peace, either.