You may remember the Kia Soul from a commercial that debuted nearly ten years ago. Featuring life-size hamsters dancing and rapping about the new sporty box-shaped hatch, this commercial showed audiences the hip side of choosing a smaller vehicle. Bling-bling not required.
After a decade of design upgrades and technological development, this crossover remains a viable alternative to mid-size SUVs or two-door sports cars and coupes. Many city-goers choose it for the simple fact that it’s easy to park and still retains a large cargo area. An available turbocharged engine also means there’s plenty of fun to be had driving this boxy four-door.
Is the 2021 Soul right for you? Well, we’ve gathered some basic information to help guide you towards a decision. Whether you’re concerned about safety features, intrigued to find out about fuel economy, or just want to compare it to other cars on the market, this article has you covered.
The 2021 Soul seats five passengers and comes exclusively in a front-wheel drive configuration. Kia originally released information on three engine options for the new Soul. However, the third one — an EV model — has since been cancelled due to complications from the pandemic.
That leaves the 2021 Soul with two gas-powered engines. The first is a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder making 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired to either a six-speed manual transmission or a continuously-variable transmission (CVT). If you’re looking to spice things up under the hood, Kia also offers a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Equipped for 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque, this turbo engine pairs with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Kia paints the 2021 Soul in the following colors.
- Inferno Red
- Sparkling Silver
- Snow White Pearl
- Cherry Black
- Mars Orange
- Gravity Gray
- Undercover Green
- Neptune Blue
- Mars Orange and Cherry Black (Two Tone)
- Neptune Blue and Cherry Black (Two Tone)
Some colors may be limited to specific trims, so check with your local Kia dealer for more information.
Trimlines and Pricing
Not sure what trim best fits your lifestyle—and more importantly, your budget? Here’s what you have to work with.
Starting at $17,490, the base Kia Soul comes fitted from the factory with cloth seats, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, and a seven-inch touchscreen. Seats are manually adjustable. It doesn’t come with a ton of extra niceties, but it’s hard to argue with that starting price for a brand new vehicle.
If you prefer the CVT, this is the trim you’ll want to start with. Besides the basics found on the LX model, you’ll also receive additional safety features on the S trim. These safety features are discussed more in the following section. You can also expect to see a powered driver’s seat. The price jumps to $20,590.
Riding on 18-inch wheels, this model includes features like a sunroof with powered sunshade, as well as “trim-specific cosmetic additions.” If you’re looking for a sporty Soul to buy, this is your trim level. GT-Line models also include premium cloth seating. The flashier looks will run you at least $21,690.
If you’re looking to off-road, this is the Soul you should check out. Featuring 18-inch wheels and roof rails, the X-Line wears plastic body cladding to protect against rough terrain. Remote keyless entry makes getting in and out easy. The X-Line costs exactly the same as the GT-Line, so you can decide on which style suits your lifestyle.
This top trim features creature comforts like heated mirrors, heated front seats, and dual-zone climate control. Push button start means you won’t have to fiddle with keys. Plus, the 10.25-inch touchscreen includes GPS navigation to get you where you need to go in style and comfort. Upgrading to this trimline will cost you a minimum of $23,350.
As the name suggests, this is the only trim available with the turbocharged engine. LED lights all around illuminate your surroundings. A heated steering wheel softens the blow of cold winter days. Simulated leather seating adds a bit of styling, along with a Harman Kardon sound system and heads-up display. All the extra features (plus that power upgrade) comes in at a starting price of $27,550.
Kia outfitted the 2021 Soul with a number of standard safety features, including a rear-seat alert and a rearview camera. Higher trims add features like forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, driver drowsiness monitoring, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane change assist, adaptive cruise control, and a heads-up display (HUD). Some of these features are now standard — or available for upgrade — on most newer vehicles.
This safety equipment earned the 2021 Soul an overall rating of 4 out of 5 stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). While the front driver side received 5 out of 5 stars in individual testing, the passenger side only achieved 4 out of 5 stars. The 2021 Soul has not yet been rated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). However, the 2020 Soul was named a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS.
The 2021 Soul respects your wallet when it comes to fueling up at the pump. After all, the small footprint and front-wheel drive configuration lend themselves to greater fuel efficiency.
In terms of exact numbers, both FuelEconomy.gov and Kelley Blue Book (KBB) reported similar findings. When equipped with the base 2.0-liter engine and the six-speed manual transmission, the Soul achieves 25 city and 31 highway EPA-estimated miles-per-gallon. Choose the CVT instead and you’ll be looking at close to 28 city and 33 highway MPG. KBB reported models equipped with the EX trim level and a CVT achieve 29 city and 35 highway MPG. Finally, turbocharged models should see around 27 city and 32 highway MPG.
Take a look around a car dealership lot and you’ll start to find a number of vehicles that resemble the Kia Soul. Reviewers put the Kia Soul up against models such as the Mazda CX-5 and CX-30, Honda HR-V, Nissan Kicks, Toyota’s C-HR, and Kia Seltos. You might even consider the Land Rover Evoque, Hyundai Kona, or Hyundai Venue as competition for the Soul.
So what sets the Soul apart? “Undeniably distinct appearance, interior has generous accommodations, lots of personality for the price,” per experts at Car and Driver. KBB critics noted the Soul was “affordable to buy and run,” a characteristic many of the review sites echoed as well.
It’s not easy to find a vehicle with a manual transmission, but the lack of all-wheel drive might put off some customers. Sure, the 2021 Soul isn’t the most agile vehicle on the market. However, it’s covered by a generous 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty. Take a test drive in the 2021 Soul (and its main competitors) to find the vehicle that best fits your lifestyle.
The Last Word
Personality and style characterize the 2021 Soul. Though it might not satisfy all customers looking for a small four-door SUV to get them around town, there’s plenty to love about this quirky hatchback. Jump off the hamster wheel of car buying and check out the 2021 Kia Soul. You might just find yourself joining the cool hamsters by parking a Kia Soul in your garage.