The toaster-shaped Kia Soul debuted at the 2008 Paris Motor Show and is a front-runner in the subcompact SUV segment.
Currently in its third generation, the Kia Soul has received positive reviews for its practicality, spaciousness, and fun-to-drive manners.
JD Power has given high praise to the Kia Soul for several years, with most models receiving “Great” scores in terms of quality & reliability, driving experience, and dealership experience, it is currently number 2 in their small SUV rankings.
If you would like to know which model years of the Kia Soul to go for and which to avoid, continue reading our guide.
Here’s The Short Answer To What The Best And Worst Years For The Kia Soul Are:
The best Kia Soul models ever made are the 2010, 2018, 2019, 2021, and the 2022 model years. On the other hand, the worst Kia Soul models ever made are the 2012, 2014, and 2015 model years. Taking note of these model years is important, especially if you are looking to purchase a used Kia Soul.
What Are The Best Years For The Kia Soul?
The Kia Soul has received decent reliability ratings and overall reviews. Listed below are five of the models that stand out from the rest:
2010 Kia Soul
The vehicle that started it all in the United States was the 2010 Kia Soul.
Arguably the most unique in terms of design, this particular model was perceived as a box-on-wheels hatchback with a lot of features (for its time), great customizability, and enough passenger space for a family of 4-5.
If you want the most practical or economic option without great risk of reliability issues, the 2010 Kia Soul is a good choice.
Of the five options on this list, the 2010 Kia Soul received the highest Kelley Blue Book consumer rating (4.5 / 5.0), tied with the 2021 Kia Soul and the 2022 Kia Soul.
Based on data obtained from CarComplaints.com, the 2010 Kia Soul has only received a total of 9 complaints, most of which are concerning engine and transmission problems.
2018 Kia Soul
The 2018 Soul is equally quirky in design as its predecessors but shines in terms of standard features.
The base 2018 Soul’s Convenience package includes:
- The latest Kia UVO infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- Automatic climate control.
This model has a roomier interior, great crash test ratings, and intuitive controls for the tech features.
The 2018 Kia Soul is an appealing option if you would like to take advantage of the more technologically updated models without spending too much cash.
Of the five options on this list, the 2018 Kia Soul secured second place across all vehicle review sites, receiving a 4.8 / 5.0 from Edmunds, a 4.4 / 5.0 from Kelley Blue Book, and an 84 / 100 from JD Power.
Based on data obtained from CarComplaints.com, the 2018 Kia Soul has only received a total of 8 complaints, most of which are concerning engine and electrical problems.
2019 Kia Soul
The 2019 Soul kept the momentum going with minor tweaks and refinements that ensured customers had the latest in technology and comfort.
Designed with a more stylish interior and better maneuverability, the 2019 Kia Soul is the model year to get if you can afford the going rates in the used vehicle market.
Of the five options on this list, the 2019 Kia Soul received the highest JD Power consumer rating (86 / 100), which is two points higher than the second-place 2018 Kia Soul and 8 points higher than the 2010 Kia Soul.
The 2019 Kia Soul comes standard with a 5-inch touchscreen, a rearview camera, and voice recognition capabilities.
Based on data obtained from CarComplaints.com, the 2019 Kia Soul has only received a total of 8 complaints, most of which are concerning brake and electrical problems.
2021 Kia Soul
Boxy vehicles may not be as popular as before, especially since their unique appeal has been a tad overused throughout the years, but do not let this stop you from considering the feature-rich 2021 Kia Soul.
The 2021 Kia Soul retains its extra roomy interior, is more enjoyable to drive (beginner-friendly), and has a lot of cool features for the price point.
Of the five options on this list, the 2021 Kia Soul received the highest Kelley Blue Book consumer rating (4.5 / 5.0), tied with the 2010 Kia Soul and the 2022 Kia Soul.
Here’s what one enthusiastic KBB reviewer had to say:
“I bought this car for my wife and I never imagined I would love it so much, I loved it so much that I went ahead and bought one for myself. I bought the turbo model and I love the performance.”
Based on data obtained from CarComplaints.com, the 2021 Kia Soul has only received a total of 3 complaints, with 1 complaint each for brake problems, engine problems, and steering problems.
2021 models feature ‘Rear Occupant Alert’ as standard. This alerts the driver via various methods (such as beeping and sending a message to their smartphone) that someone is in the back seat.
2022 Kia Soul
Although the 2022 Kia Soul is considered by several as just a moderate redesign of the 2021 version, this model can still make a big impact for potential owners who are looking for a better interior and the latest driver-assist technologies.
With the addition of a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system and up-to-date navigation features, the 2022 Kia Soul is truly the best and brightest offering within the Soul line-up as of today.
Of the five options on this list, the 2022 Kia Soul received the highest consumer rating from Edmunds, securing a score of 4.9 / 5.0. This model is also a recipient of the highest Kelley Blue Book consumer rating (4.5 / 5.0), tied with the 2010 Kia Soul and the 2021 Kia Soul.
Based on data obtained from CarComplaints.com, the 2022 Kia Soul has only received a total of 1 complaint, concerning interior accessory problems.
If you’re feeling flush, then the 2023 model will also be an excellent choice, this model year receives a light refresh with a new bumper design, reshaped headlamps and a new grille.
Consumer Scores For Best Kia Soul Years
Below is a table that presents all the consumer ratings of the best Kia Soul model years from reputable vehicle websites:
|Model Year||Edmunds’ Consumer Rating||Kelley Blue Book’s Consumer Rating||JD Power’s Consumer Rating|
|2010 Kia Soul||4.6 / 5.0||4.5 / 5.0||78 / 100|
|2018 Kia Soul||4.8 / 5.0||4.4 / 5.0||84 / 100|
|2019 Kia Soul||4.4 / 5.0||4.4 / 5.0||86 / 100|
|2021 Kia Soul||3.8 / 5.0||4.5 / 5.0||83 / 100|
|2022 Kia Soul||4.9 / 5.0||4.5 / 5.0||83 / 100|
What Are The Worst Years For The Kia Soul?
The Kia Soul has also had its fair share of problems and complaints. The models listed below are the versions of the vehicle that you should absolutely avoid:
2012 Kia Soul
The 2012 Kia Soul would have been a great vehicle and spiritual successor to the 2010 and 2011 Kia Soul models had it not been for the numerous complaints and issues filed by owners of this particular model.
This model was reportedly very noisy (even during highway drives) and offered limited cargo rooms in comparison to its direct competitors at the time.
The 2012 Kia Soul received a total of 66 complaints based on data obtained from CarComplaints.com and logged a total of 421 problems based on information acquired from CarPoblemZoo.com. The leading issue of this model year is steering problems.
A disgruntled owner had this to say:
“Major steering defect, dangerous to drive, not covered in 2014 recall.”
2014 Kia Soul
The 2014 Kia Soul is considered to be one of the most problematic model years of the vehicle line and is also viewed negatively by certain owners due to its ride quality and drive quality.
The major disadvantages for this particular model year are the harsh riding quality (due to larger wheels) and expensive packages for desirable technologies or add-ons.
The 2014 Kia Soul received a total of 77 complaints based on data obtained from CarComplaints.com and logged a total of 892 problems based on information acquired from CarPoblemZoo.com. The leading issue of this model year is engine problems.
2015 Kia Soul
The 2015 Kia Soul fared just as poorly as its predecessor but this time, fuel economy was a more prominent concern, with a recorded 26 mpg combined average for the model.
Other cons of the Kia Soul include the undesirable ride quality (still as a result of larger wheel dimensions) and expensive add-ons and features that do not come with the base model.
The 2015 Kia Soul received a total of 61 complaints based on data obtained from CarComplaints.com and logged a total of 744 problems based on information acquired from CarPoblemZoo.com. The leading issue of this model year is engine problems.
Related: Kia Soul in Snow & Winter Driving?
What Years Have The Most Complaints?
There are a handful of Kia Soul models that have received a ton of complaints. Listed below are complaints and problems listed for each model year:
|Model Year||Complaints (CarComplaints.com)||Problems (CarProblemZoo.com)|
|2022 Kia Soul||1||5|
|2021 Kia Soul||3||31|
|2020 Kia Soul||26||205|
|2019 Kia Soul||8||42|
|2018 Kia Soul||8||112|
|2017 Kia Soul||12||162|
|2016 Kia Soul||34||479|
|2015 Kia Soul||61||744|
|2014 Kia Soul||77||892|
|2013 Kia Soul||55||479|
|2012 Kia Soul||66||421|
|2011 Kia Soul||15||189|
|2010 Kia Soul||9||173|
What Problems Do Kia Souls Have?
Listed below are a few of the typical problems owners have encountered with the Kia Soul:
- Engine Problems (Blown Engine, Knocking, Failure)
- Electrical and Light Problems
- AC / Heater Problems
What Are The Best Alternatives To The Kia Soul?
There are several great alternatives to the Kia Soul. Here are fifteen other models to check out if you are looking to get a subcompact SUV:
|Make & Model||Score||MSRP||Fuel Economy (MPG)|
|Hyundai Kona||8.5||$21,300 – $34,200||City: 20-30 mpg / Highway: 27-35 mpg|
|Kia Soul||8.4||$19,190 – $27,790||City: 27-28 mpg / Highway: 32-33 mpg|
|Mazda CX-30||8.4||$22,200 – $34,400||City: 22-24 mpg / Highway: 30-31 mpg|
|Kia Seltos||8.2||$22,590 – $28,090||City: 25-29 mpg / Highway: 30-35 mpg|
|Buick Encore GX||8.1||$24,200 – $30,400||City: 26-30 mpg / Highway: 29-32 mpg|
|Subaru Crosstrek||7.9||$22,445 – $28,295||City: NA / Highway: NA|
|Mini Cooper Countryman||7.8||$29,100 – $41,500||City: 23-26 mpg / Highway: 30-33 mpg|
|Hyundai Venue||7.8||$19,000 – $22,250||City: 29 mpg / Highway: 33 mpg|
|Chevrolet Trailblazer||7.8||$21,600 – $27,200||City: 26-28 mpg / Highway: 30-31 mpg|
|Honda HR-V||7.7||$21,420 – $27,720||City: 26-28 mpg / Highway: 31-34 mpg|
|Mazda CX-3||7.7||$22,495 – $29,995||City: 22-24 mpg / Highway: 27-32 mpg|
|Jeep Renegade||7.5||$22,495 – $29,995||City: 22-24 mpg / Highway: 27-32 mpg|
|Buick Encore||7.4||$24,600 – $25,220||City: 23-24 mpg / Highway: 30-32 mpg|
|Chevrolet Trax||7.0||$21,400 – $23,820||City: 23-24 mpg / Highway: 30-32 mpg|
|Toyota C-HR||6.7||$23,880 – $26,900||City: 27 mpg / Highway: 31 mpg|
|Mitsubishi Outlander Sport||6.6||$21,445 – $28,045||City: NA / Highway: NA|