We’re looking at a vehicle whose name has spent the better part of ten years as synonymous with the Kia brand. It’s offbeat. It’s funky. It’s a bold new way to think about both small cars and crossovers.

First-Generation Kia Soul

Years on the market: 2009 - 2013

A product of Kia’s Soul Concept from 2005, the Kia Soul was perhaps the first vehicle Kia developed for the mass market that sought a higher ambition than just being the least expensive model in the segment. It was daring. It was practical.

Three things to know about the first-gen Kia Soul

Solid and economic powertrain options

  1. 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine (122 horsepower)
  2. 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine (142 horsepower)
  3. Standard five-speed manual transmission
  4. Available four-speed automatic transmission


  1. Revisions included a second model-year upgrade to interior materials quality and ride following criticism.
  2. 2011 saw the addition of standard pull out door handles (rather than the tab/flap-type the Soul had before).
  3. 2012 increased base-model engine horsepower to 138 and 2.0-liter to 164 horsepower.
  4. 2013 brought facelift in the form of a bulged hood, revised grille, LED lighting, flush Kia badges, standard Bluetooth® with steering-wheel audio controls and more lighting options for stereo display LCD.

Special Editions

  1. Models included exterior and interior styling choices
  2. Tiger, Denim, Dragon, Flex, Houndstooth and Flames
  3. Additionally, a hybrid model was released in 2008
  4. Kia used the Soul to debut several concepts including the Soul Diva (which targeted fashionable young women), Soul Burner (seating for four, dual exhaust, street style with 19-inch wheels), Soul Searcher (meditation focused with old leather finish on hood, power folding roof, felt floor for yoga) and Soul Hamster Edition
Second-Generation Kia Soul

Years on the market: 2014 – 2019

Unveiled at the 2012 Chicago Auto Show, the second-generation Kia Soul is the product of concepts built off the first-generation model, especially the Kia Track’ster concept. The goal with the second-generation Kia Soul was to increase rigidity and add a smoother ride by adding a longer wheelbase. The Soul also gained modern and forward-looking design elements like the floating rear hatch panel and wraparound taillights.

Three things to know about the second-gen Kia Soul:

Alien II

  1. New color replacing the Alien Green color of the original
  2. Adding vibrancy and toned-down the reflectiveness for a color that looks like enamel
  3. Still among the most popular colors for the second-generation Soul


  1. First Kia Soul to feature music/audio streaming from a smartphone with Pandora integrated
  2. Six speakers, USB/Aux ports, Bluetooth and SiriusXM with free trial all Soul as a great car for music.
  3. Lighted speaker surrounds add a fun, rave-like element to the sporty box.

Driving Dynamics

  1. New, more rigid structure
  2. Engines carried over, but now a six-speed automatic was available.
  3. The front subframe now had four bushings.
  4. Better balance courtesy of moving the stabilizer bar and steering box
Third-Generation Kia Soul

Years on the market: 2019 – Present

The latest-and-greatest Kia Soul is the 2020 model. The 2020 Kia Soul represents a stylish evolution of the model that pulls in exterior design elements from Kia’s sports car range. It’s also the first Kia Soul to differentiate between two of the model’s more niche applications with the 2020 Kia Soul X-Line and GT-Line.

Three things to know about the third-gen Kia Soul:

Better infotainment

  1. Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration, six speakers and a 7-inch display touchscreen are standard across the entire 2020 Kia Soul range.
  2. Drivers can choose to upgrade to a premium Harman/Kardon® sound system and a 10.25-inch display touchscreen infotainment unit.
  3. Lighted speaker surrounds carry forward, but now also change the color of the door panel insert on compatible models.

New Transmission

  1. Kia’s brilliant IVT is now a part of the Kia Soul.
  2. The IVT promises superior fuel economy, dependability and the feeling of a smooth-shifting automatic. A manual transmission and a performance-grade dual-clutch are also available.


  1. A new floating roof element sees window line extend to rear hatch.
  2. Brand-new headlights with LED option
  3. The silhouette is ever so slightly more aerodynamic.
  4. Body kits based on popular end-user applications for the Kia Soul X-Line and Kia Soul GT-Line.