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While each vehicle offers something a bit different, there are a few vehicles that are truly unique. The 2021 Kia Soul is one of those, as it has a boxy design and a funky vibe that would make it hard for anyone to confuse it with another model. The Soul is branded as an SUV, but to some it may seem more like a hatchback since it sits low to the ground and has a relatively compact cabin. It does have the versatility that many modern consumers are looking for. Like many other Kias, it has several technological components that people are sure to appreciate.
What's New for 2021?
Instead of making drastic changes to the Soul, Kia has kept things in the 2021 model year pretty similar to what was seen in 2020. One new feature is Rear Occupant Alert. This system can alert drivers when it seems like passengers have been left in the vehicle by themselves. Another addition to the Soul is seen in the X-Line and GT-Line trims. These trims get more premium shock valves to enhance handling. One other improvement to the 2021 Kia Soul is that select trims now come with remote start buttons on their key fobs.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2021 Kia Soul – The Pros
1. Something for Everyone
Rather than limiting people's options with the Soul, Kia has gone with a decision to make six trims available. This range of models starts at the LX, which is priced under $18,000 and goes all the way up to the Turbo, which costs a little more than $27,500. In between are the S, GT-Line, X-Line, and EX trims. Every trim has its own advantages, and customers get to pick which combination of features is most appealing and which price point matches their budgets.
2. High-Tech Cabin
Every Kia Soul comes with a large touchscreen, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. This helps the vehicle appeal to those who love to stay in touch with others and want to have constant access to certain smartphone apps. On the first four trims, the touchscreen measures seven inches. The top two trims are upgraded with 10.25-inch touchscreens, and those touchscreens come along with Hd Radio, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, and integrated navigation. The navigation program can take into account current traffic conditions as it provides turn-by-turn directions.
3. Two Available Engines
Most people looking into the Soul and its competitors would be pretty happy with the power that the standard engine provides. All of the Soul trims, with the exception of the Turbo, run on a 147-horsepower, 2.0-liter engine. This engine can be matched with either a six-speed manual transmission or an intelligent variable transmission.
With greater capability, the Turbo trim is what some drivers would be more interested in. Its 1.6-liter engine is smaller than the standard one, but it has a turbocharger. This boosts horsepower to 201. Torque increases from 132 pound-feet with the 2.0-liter engine to 195 pound-feet with the 1.6-liter version. The dual-clutch transmission in the Turbo has seven speeds and makes for a more exciting drive.
4. Good Mileage
In a 2021 Kia Soul, people can travel far on a single tank of gas. With the 2.0-liter engine, the vehicle can earn up to 35 miles per gallon on the highway. City driving yields a fuel efficiency of 29 miles per gallon. The turbocharged version of the Soul isn't far behind, earning up to 32 miles per gallon on the highway and 27 miles per gallon in the city. Note that the Soul with the manual transmission is a little less efficient than its counterparts, having an estimated efficiency of 25/31 (city/highway) miles per gallon.
5. Quality Safety Components
Nearly all of the Kia Soul trims are equipped with numerous driver-assist technologies. Starting with the S trim, the vehicle comes with forward collision avoidance assist, and this gives the vehicle the ability to warn drivers about potential problems and hit the brakes if it seems like an accident is imminent. Lane keeping assist can be useful when the driver isn't centered in a lane, and blind spot monitoring and lane change assist work together to prevent drivers from hitting vehicles on either side of them. There is also a driver attention alert system and a rear cross-traffic collision assist feature that can potentially hit the brakes to avoid an accident.
6. Cabin Feels Spacious
In total, there is over 100 cubic feet of space for the passengers to take advantage of. Though it might not seem like the back seat is roomy when looking at the Soul from the outside, it actually is. The Soul's 38.8 inches of rear-seat leg room is more than what many SUVs offer. In the back, the cargo area has a volume of approximately 24 cubic feet. Cargo capacity can increase to about 62 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded.
7. A Distinct Appearance
The Soul has an upright stance and a very cubic shape. It's not very lengthy or wide, but that makes it more attractive to many people, especially those in urban areas who are frequently parking in tight spaces. The C-pillar has an angular look, and it's stamped with a "Soul" badge. In the front, the grille and narrow headlights look futuristic, and in the back, there is an interesting mix of curves and angles on the tailgate. From any angle, the Soul stands out.
8. "Start Your Engines"
The industry has come a long way, and no longer is there the need to physically put a key into the ignition and turn it in order to start things up. The EX and Turbo trims come with a Smart Key. It allows the driver to simply push a button to start the engine. What's even better is that the key fob has a remote start button. From the comfort of one's home, or anywhere near the vehicle, the engine can be started and the climate control system can start working. Gone are the days when people have to get in a super hot or cold car and wait several minutes for the temperature to get to a more comfortable level.
9. Premium Interior Elements
Many of the Kia Soul trims come with nicely appointed cabins. The available features include a power moonroof, a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and synthetic leather seats. All of these can work together to make things more comfortable, and they can enhance the overall atmosphere in the cabin.
10. Sporty Accents
There are numerous ways in which the Kia Soul shows a lot of flair. First, the X-Line can come with a two-tone look. When a red or blue exterior paint color is selected, the roof can be painted black. The X-Line also comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, cladding around the fenders, and bright silver roof rails. The GT-Line has some slightly different elements, such as red accents on the side sills, a special front grille, and a silver skid plate. The GT-Line, as well as the Turbo, have D-shaped steering wheels. With ergonomic cutouts, these are similar to steering wheels that one might see on race cars.
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Reasons Not to Buy a 2021 Kia Soul – The Cons
1. Lackluster Performance
It was mentioned earlier that the Soul has two available engines. It's great that Kia made that decision, but in all honesty, 201 horsepower isn't that impressive. Having closer to 250 horsepower would make for a more thrilling experience on the road.
2. Rear Seats Don't Fold Flat
Having rear seats that fold down is a key reason why SUVs and hatchbacks are so popular. The Kia Soul has those types of seats, and its rear seat is configured as a 60/40 split bench to allow for some versatility in arranging the cabin. The unfortunate thing is that the seatbacks don't fold completely flat. This can make it a bit trickier to load and unload heavy or bulky items. A difference of a few inches is significant in this regard.
3. Not Upscale Enough
The Kia Soul isn't supposed to be a luxury vehicle, but consumers might be turned off by its lack of upscale amenities. It does have certain features, like heated front seats and synthetic leather seats, but what it doesn't have may be more noticeable. The list of what the Soul doesn't have includes ventilated front seats, full leather seats, rear air vents, and charging ports in the back seat.
4. All-Wheel Drive Option is Missing
SUVs are expected to be tough and durable, but the Kia Soul doesn't quite make the grade if this is the standard. Not having available all-wheel drive makes it less appealing to drivers who may frequently deal with icy and slippery conditions.
How it Stacks Up to the Competition:
2021 Kia Soul vs 2021 Honda HR-V
As a small SUV, the HR-V sits in the same category as the Kia Soul. It might not be as appealing because it has a higher starting price than the Soul. It's notable that for that more expensive price, the base model doesn't have Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, or a touchscreen. Its cabin is slightly smaller than the Soul's cabin, and this may be an important factor for some consumers.
2021 Kia Soul vs 2021 Subaru Crosstrek
The Crosstrek is definitely a more rugged vehicle than the Kia Soul. However, there are many ways in which the Soul outshines this competitor. Like the HR-V, the Crosstrek is more expensive than the Kia Soul. Also, it has less overall cargo room than the Soul has, and it less rear-seat leg room. In certain situations, it can be less practical than the Soul is.
The Kia Soul is certainly fun, and it's different than most other options out there. As a very competitively priced vehicle, it would be a smart choice for anyone on a budget. It can satisfy people with its comprehensive entertainment and safety packages, and it has plenty of space to accommodate five passengers plus their cargo.
• Why buy a 2020 Kia Soul? w/ pros vs cons