Kia Soul Models and Generation History
Our Family Tree series works to highlight some of the most exciting vehicles on the road and show how they’ve progressed from their most humble roots. In a way, it’s the story of Kia – entering the market with a very simple value proposition and then working to refine and iterate until you’re one of the strongest contenders in the arena.
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Today, 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. So, sit back and enjoy our retrospective of the beloved Kia Soul.
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. It was made after designer Mike Torpey saw a picture of a warthog with a backpack on (no kidding).
Three things to know about the first-generation Kia Soul:
- Solid and economic powertrain options
- 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine (122 horsepower)
- 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine (142 horsepower)
- Standard five-speed manual transmission
- Available four-speed automatic transmission
- Seeing revisions
- Revisions included a second model-year upgrade to interior materials quality and ride following criticism.
- 2011 saw the addition of standard pull out door handles (rather than the tab/flap-type the Soul had before).
- 2012 increased base-model engine horsepower to 138 and 2.0-liter to 164 horsepower.
- 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 galore
- Models included exterior and interior styling choices
- Tiger, Denim, Dragon, Flex, Houndstooth and Flames
- Additionally, a hybrid model was released in 2008
- 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 courtesy of 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-generation Kia Soul:
- Alien II
- New color replacing the Alien Green color of the original
- Adding vibrancy and toned-down the reflectiveness for a color that looks like enamel
- Still among the most popular colors for the second-generation Soul
- Integrated infotainment
- First Kia Soul to feature music/audio streaming from a smartphone with Pandora integrated
- Six speakers, USB/Aux ports, Bluetooth® and SiriusXM™ with free trial all marked the second-generation Soul as a great car for music.
- Lighted speaker surrounds add a fun, rave-like element to the sporty box.
- Driving dynamics were a secondary focus
- New, more rigid structure
- Engines carried over, but now a six-speed automatic was available.
- The front subframe now had four bushings (zero on the second-generation model).
- Better balance courtesy of moving the stabilizer bar and steering box
Third-Generation Kia Soul
Years on the market: 2020 –
The latest-and-greatest Kia Soul is the 2020 model. All-new for the upcoming year, 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 (geared more for light off-roading and weekend adventures) and the Kia Soul GT-Line (geared for speed and hot-hatch fun).
Three things to know about the third-generation Kia Soul:
- Even better infotainment
- Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration, six speakers and a 7-inch display touchscreen are standard across the entire 2020 Kia Soul range.
- Drivers can choose to upgrade to a premium Harman/Kardon® sound system and a 10.25-inch display touchscreen infotainment unit.
- Lighted speaker surrounds carry forward, but now also change the color of the door panel insert on compatible models.
- Brand-new transmission
- Kia’s brilliant IVT is now a part of the Kia Soul.
- 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.
- “We got a brand new style, y’all…”
- The 2020 Kia Soul continues the mission of offering class-leading practicality while serving as a style icon.
- A new floating roof element sees window line extend to rear hatch.
- Brand-new headlights with LED option
- The silhouette is ever so slightly more aerodynamic.
- Body kits based on popular end-user applications for the Kia Soul X-Line and Kia Soul GT-Line.
Test-Drive the Storied Kia Soul at Friendly Kia
Last year, Kia made history by selling the 1,000,000th Kia Soul. It was a huge moment for them and a “well that makes sense” moment for everyone else. After all, the Soul is bound to be one of the models of which you see the most on any drive.
With so many first-generation and second-generation models on the road, and an increasing number of third-generations popping in as well, it’s a model you know you can rely on. In fact, we think it’s one of the best pre-owned vehicle values on the market.
For more information on the Kia Soul or to shop our extensive inventory of new and used Kia Souls, contact us today!