Kia XCeed review
The Kia XCeed has a higher ride height, a range of cheap-to-run engines and lots of kit as standard. There are more comfortable SUVs with better rear space, though.
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The Kia XCeed is to small SUVs what an all-inclusive holiday in Bali is to backpacking through the rainforests and sleeping in a tent. It’s a taste of what it’s like to own a high-riding off-road inspired car, but something you can experience without leaving the safety of the hatchback comfort zone.
Unlike the VW T-Cross and Skoda Karoq, the XCeed looks like a conventional family car that’s put on a pair of hiking boots and bought a practical backpack. It comes with some chunky black bumper protectors, raised suspension and contrasting trims that mimick the skid plates you see on full-blown off-roaders, but – like the Ford Focus Active – its rounded body bucks the SUV trend for hard edges and square silhouettes.
Step inside and this trend continues. Despite the slightly raised view out, the XCeed’s interior looks and feels almost identical to the Ceed hatchback’s. Sure, you can’t get any wild orange decals like in the T-Cross, but all the XCeed’s buttons are laid out sensibly, the plastic trims feel pretty solid and you get a decent infotainment system with smartphone mirroring built-in as standard.
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 doesn’t really stand out in terms of passenger space, either. Yes, there’s a decent amount of space in the front with a fair amount of seat adjustment, but adults will find the back seats pretty cramped and you can’t fit as much in the Kia XCeed’s boot as in the VW T-Cross and Skoda Karoq.
Helpfully, the Kia XCeed comes with a wide range of engines, so there’ll be something to suit every load-lugging requirement. There are some petrol units that are perfect for pottering around town and a selection of diesel engines that’ll lap up longer motorway journeys.
There’s also a plug-in hybrid version. Check out our separate Kia XCeed PHEV review.
Sadly, none of these engines makes the Kia XCeed particularly exciting to drive. Sure, it doesn’t lean a great deal in sharp corners and it has plenty of grip – despite not having four-wheel drive – but it can’t match the agility or comfort of the Ford Focus Active.
That said, the Kia XCeed’s light controls make it pretty easy to drive in town and it comes with a good range of standard safety features to help keep you safe.
If you’re looking for a small SUV that prioritises safety over sportiness, the Kia XCeed is well worth considering, but bear in mind that there are plenty of comfier and roomier alternatives out there that are worth test driving too.
See how much you can save on your next new car by visiting our Kia XCeed deals page or rear on for our in-depth interior, practicality and driving review sections.
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 Kia XCeed isn’t a great deal roomier than the Ceed hatchback on which it’s based, but its raised suspension and taller roofline does make it slightly easier to climb into.
Tall adults will have no issues with head- or shoulder room in the front and the driver’s seat gets a wide range of seat and steering wheel adjustment to help you find a comfy seating position. Spending more on mid-range ‘3’ trim brings electric lumbar adjustment (to help prevent backache on long drives) as standard, while range-topping First Edition models also get a memory function.
The news is a little less positive in the back seats. 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.
Models without a panoramic glass roof feel a little dark and dingy in the back and the raised windows don’t give children a great view out. That said, at least three kids have a decent amount of space to stretch out and it’s pretty easy to lift a child seat through the back doors and lock it in place using the standard Isofix anchor points. You will have to slide the front seats forward slightly to fit a bulky rear-facing seat, however.
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 neat and tidy. 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 and you get a set of seat-back pockets, too.
At 426 litres, the Kia 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 you get in 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’s square shape makes it easy to pack in plenty of boxes or suitcases.
On ‘2’ and ‘3’ models, the XCeed’s rear seats can be split in a 60:40 configuration and then folded down flat, while First Edition models come with a more practical 40:20:40 split – 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 the XCeed isn’t particularly good fun to drive
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 petrol engine range kicks off with a turbocharged 1.0-litre unit, which produces 120hp. It’s the slowest engine of the range, but doesn’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 to and from the shops.
If you really can’t live with the 1.0-litre’s fairly lethargic performance, there’s also a turbocharged 1.4 with 140hp. It feels perkier and smoother but does use a little more fuel in town.
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, feels a little bit sluggish from a standstill, but you’re better off spending a little more and going for the 136hp version. It doesn’t just feel noticeably quicker – such as when accelerating from 50-70mph on the motorway – it’ll also return slightly better fuel economy of around 50mpg.
Later down the line, a plug-in petrol-electric hybrid will join the range, with a 1.6-litre petrol engine and electric motors working together to produce 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, but this isn’t quite as slick as the manual boxes you get in some alternatives. Sadly, only the 1.4-litre petrol model can be had with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, although this can be a little hesitant at lower speeds in town.
Whichever engine you buy, don’t expect to be blown away by the way the XCeed’s drive. Like many of its alternatives, it has plenty of grip and doesn’t lean too much in corners, but the emphasis is on comfort rather than cornering. Ultimately a Ford Focus Active feels more agile on the right road.
That said, while the Kia XCeed’s raised suspension feels fairly smooth 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 Kia XCeed’s good turning circle, light steering, decent forward visibility and standard reversing camera make it a doddle to drive in town. 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.
Speaking of motorways, you get cruise control as standard to take the sting out of long stints behind the wheel, and top-spec First Edition cars fitted with an automatic gearbox also come with adaptive cruise control that’ll maintain a safe distance between you and other cars.
Lane-keeping assistance also comes as standard, alongside automatic emergency braking. The latter comes with pedestrian and cyclist detection as standard in First Edition cars, and this is available as an optional extra in ‘2’ and ‘3’ versions.
The Kia XCeed shares much of the standard Ceed’s interior. As such, it’s sturdy and attractive, but the standard infotainment system isn’t the best around
Kia XCeed colours
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