The Soul has been one of the most popular cars of Kia in the US market. This is because everyone loves value for money prospects, which the Soul has managed to provide in oodles. The 2021 model is expected to be a carryover in terms of design. But there will be some minor and subtle changes to make it different fresh in the competition.

Kia's Soul sits in one of the most competitive car segment in the market. Still, it has managed to garner a lot of buyers due to its value proposition. Kia gave its active little crossover a redesig for the 2020 model-year. While the carmaker has Korean roots, the Soul design center's in California.

The car was showcased for the very first time at the 2008 Paris Motor Show, and Kia added an EV variant of the Soul in 2014. Its design was based on the Kia Mesa concept, for which Kia sent its designer to Korea.

2021 Kia Soul GT Line Turbo

The Soul received a thorough update in 2020, not only in terms of design but also in features. Hence it would not be wrong to say that Kia would not be doing anything drastic with the 2021 Kia Soul. However, there will undoubtedly be minor noticeable changes.

The Soul has always offered almost everything that its price segment has on offer, and the 2021 model shall continue with the same philosophy. It goes up against its rivals such as the Honda Fit, Jeep Renegade, and Hyundai Kona. Now its time to see how good the 2021 Soul will fare against its competitors.

What's New?

Launched in 2010, the Soul is in its third generation. The 2021 Soul is expected to go through some feature shuffling and some new color schemes. It will return with the same set of engines and an electric battery pack.

Trims and Pricing

The 2021 Kia Soul is expected to offer the same five trims; LX, X-Line, S, EX, and GT-Line is available with the 2020 model. The S trim gets proper safety equipment, while the X-Line gives a rugged crossover vibe with its styling. The GT-Line trim is the more performance-oriented Soul, and the EX trim is more focused on luxury. There is also an optional sub-trim, GT-Line Turbo, which takes the best of the EX and the GT-Line. Hence, Kia has made sure that it has a Soul for every customer that walks into its showroom.

Engine and Transmission

Kia is expected not to make any changes to the engine options or add any new engine to the line-up for the 2021 Kia Soul. Hence, it gets the same 2.0L inline-4 engine that puts out 147 hp of power and 132 pound-feet of torque. This engine is available with the base trim, and the power is translated only to the front wheels as standard. That is true for every trim of Soul as it does not get all-wheel drive even as an option.

Kia Soul 2.0 liter inline-four mated to a CVT transmission

Being tuned for the urban driveability, the 2.0 L unit is best driven with a light foot. As the Kia and Hyundai group is known to make refined engines, the refinement levels are the best in the segment. The base engine is coupled with CVT, which makes it quite fuel-efficient than its competitors. It smoothly gets off-the-line, and the power delivery is quite linear. 

The Kia Soul also offers a more performance-oriented engine, which is the optional 1.6L turbocharged gas engine. It develops 201-hp of power and is available with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. You get a beefy 195 lb-ft of torque, which is significantly more than the base 2.0L engine. However, the gearbox is poorly tuned and is a let down in its package. While good for driving hard and fast, it feels clunky at city speeds.

Kia Soul GT 2.0 liter turbocharged inline-four

All the power and torque also come at the cost of refinement as it feels a bit rough when pushed. However, if Kia is listening, it might tune the gearbox differently this time, but it's an information that neither we can confirm nor its official. Out of the two engines, you are only better off choosing the base engine, courtesy its smoother experience.

Models

Kia Soul LX

Hyundai Kona 

Jeep Renegade Sport

Honda Fit Hatchback

MSRP

$17,490

$20,100

$23,775

$16,990

Engine

2.0L Inline-4

2.0L Inline-4

2.4L Naturally Aspirated inline-4

1.5L Inline-4 

Drivetrain FWD FWD FWD FWD

Transmission

6-speed Manual

6-speed Shiftable Automatic

9 Speed Automatic

2-speed CVT w/OD

Power (hp @ rpm)

147@6,200

147@6,200

180@6,400

128hp@6,600rpm

Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)

132@4,500

132@4,500

175@3,900

113lb-ft@4,600rpm

Talking about rivals, the Kia Soul and the Hyundai Kona are based on the same platform and quite similar on paper. They also use the same powertrain, which makes it hard to choose between the two. The Jeep Renegade is the most powerful car in its segment but doesn't be fooled by it. Due to its substantial weight, the Soul is better in terms of the 0-60 mph timing. On the other hand, the Honda Fit is unimpressive in terms of performance owing to its lowest power output. 

Kia has tuned the Soul's engine as well as ride and handling quite well for taking on the city life. Being a car designed for the urban jungle, it is easy to steer in tight spaces and also feels well composed around the corners. The handing is on the lighter side with the steering gaining satisfying heft as the car picks up speed. Body roll is well contained, and overall cornering abilities remain significant for a crossover.

2021 Kia Soul GT

The 2021 model shall ship with the same setup, and hence it will remain a comfortable car. It remains well planted on roads at high speeds, and cruising all day on the highway is quite comfortable in the Soul. However, the tire and wind noise creep in, and you would be left wanting more from a car, which costs this much money. However, considering the car costs less than $20,000, it is not a deal-breaker.

MPG Ratings

Like for many customers, even for Kia, the fuel economy is one of the most important aspect. As there will be no changes to the powertrain, the 2021 Kia Soul will offer almost the same mileage figure. That is not a bad thing as the current model provides one of the best EPA ratings in its class. As far as compact crossover MPVs go, the base engine of the Soul is quite efficient than others in its competition. 

Models

Kia Soul

Honda Fit

Jeep Renegade

Hyundai Kona

MPG (City)

27

31

22

27

MPG (Highway)

33

36

30

33

MPG (Combined)

30

33

25

30

Fuel Capacity (Gallons)

14.3

10.6

12.7

13.2

Range

(City/Highway/Combined,

in Miles)

386.1/471.9/429

328.6/381.6/349.8

279.4/381/317.5

356.4/435.6/396

The Soul has the most prominent fuel-tank. Therefore, it has the most extended driving range, which makes it an excellent car for highway cruising as well. The Honda Fit is the most fuel-efficient car of its segment due to its smaller engine and lower curb weight. On the other hand, the Jeep Renegade offers the least mileage due to its weight and the bigger sized engine. 

Design and Exterior Highlights

The 2021 Kia Soul will be virtually almost unchanged. Kia might introduce some new colors to set it apart from the 2020 model. Soul's wagon-like look can be quite polarising but certainly helps it stand alone. No exterior changes have been applied to the 2021 Soul, and it carries forward unchanged as its yesteryear model. It quickly resembles a car made for the future. Some might not like the car's boxy silhouette, but Kia has done an excellent job of making it look appealing.

2021 Kia Soul GT Line

There are quite a few lines across the vehicle that cleverly hide its and budget car lineage. The nose is unmistakably Kia, and the headlights are available in three different configurations. Hence, the Soul looks youthful and offers a smart-looking design on the outside.

Models

Kia Soul

Honda Fit

Jeep Renegade

Hyundai Kona

Curb Weight (lb)

2844

2648

3210

2899

Length (inches)

165.2

161.4

166.6

164.0

Width (inches)

70.9

67.0

74.2

70.9

Height (inches)

63.0

60.0

66.5

61.6

Ground Clearance

(inches)

6.7

4.4

6.7

6.7

Wheelbase (inches)

102.4

99.6

101.2

102.4

In terms of the physical dimensions, the Jeep Renegade is the widest and the highest car in its segment, which explains why it has the most interior space. However, even the 2021 Kia Soul will be quite a roomy car thanks to its boxy shape. On the other hand, the Honda Fit is the smallest car, but Honda has done a great job at liberating more space on the inside.

Interior, Seating, and cargo

Being an everyday car, the Soul is spacious and practical. As the 2021 soul will come with a minor changes, the interior will remain mostly unchanged over its 2020 model except for a few bits. The cabin looks small due to its all-black theme, but it can seat five adults comfortably along with plenty of room for their luggage too—the seats at the front offer excellent support for your under-thigh and lower back.

2021 Kia Soul Interior

The cushion of the chair is neither too soft nor too soft, which is suitable for long trips. Lower trims get manual adjusting driver's seat while the upper trims get power adjusting unit. However, the cabin feels quite plasticky, and you should not expect any soft-touch materials on the inside.

2021 Kia Soul Rear Seats

The rear bench can astonishingly fit three six-footers with ease. There is plenty of legroom on offer, though the shoulder room might be an issue for more significant individuals, most people won't notice that. Hard plastics are everywhere, and cost-cutting is evident on the inside. Hence, overall, its a cabin designed for space and practicality.

Models

Kia Soul

Honda Fit

Jeep Renegade

Hyundai Kona

Seating Capacity

5

5

5

5

Front Row (Headroom/Shoulder Room/Leg Room, in inches)

39.4/55.5/41.1

38.0/54.8/41.4

41.1/55.9/41.2

39.6/55.5/41.5

Rear Row (Headroom/ShoulderRoom/Leg Room, in inches)

39.5/54.7/38.8

37.6/52.6/39.3

40.5/55.1/35.1

37.8/54.5/34.6

Trunk Capacity (cubic feet)

24.2

16.6

18.5

19.2

In comparison, the Jeep Renegade is marginally roomier, but the Soul offers the most cargo capacity. Honda Fit feels cramped and also has the lowest cargo space among the competition. The Renegade also offers a more premium cabin while the Hyundai Kona feels a bit utilitarian in comparison. However, while the Kona is neck and neck in terms of interior quality with the Soul, it offers a tad bit more premium environment on the inside.

What's there to keep you entertained?

The 2021 Soul will get the same infotainment system as well, but there could be a new updated interface for better usability. The lower trims might not be that well equipped, but a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility is offered in every trim as standard.

2021 Kia Soul Steering Mounted Controls

The audio from the eight-speaker unit is also crip and at par in its segment. The current model's intuitive, interface is easy to navigate through the menus in the infotainment.

Safety Features and Ratings

Going by the ratings given by IIHS to the 2020 Soul, the 2021 model will be quite safe to drive. IIHS has featured the current model in its Top Safety Pick with the optional safety packages. However, the base Soul LX comes without an advanced safety tech, such as forward collision alert or automatic emergency braking, and we would not be recommending you that trim. The rest of the trims offers a whole list of life-saving features. Some of the safety features include:

  • Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA)
  • Lane Keeping Assist (LKA)
  • Driver Attention Warning (DAW)
  • Blind Spot Collision Warning (BCW)
  • Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Assist (RCCA)
  • Lane Change Assist (LCA)

Verdict

2021 Kia Soul is expected to launch in late 2020, and the price is expected to receive a $1000 bump. However, the 2021 model will remain value for money and a feature-loaded car. There are not many reasons for us to suggest that you wait for the 2021 Soul model if you want to buy one. The changes received will be more under the skin rather than on the face. Hence, if you want an affordable yet feature-packed crossover, you can still get it with the 2020 Kia Soul.

FAQ's

How long do Kia Souls last?

The 2020 KIA soul is an utterly reliable car and can have a lifespan of around 200,000 miles.

Which Soul trim to go with?

If you're typically driving solo or with one passenger, the S model is a precise plan to go. For more family- or friend-oriented duty, the EX is what you want

Also, read

2020 Kia Soul Complete In-depth Review & Buying Guide