Best & Worst Kia Soul Years

Boasting a distinctive boxy shape, vibrant color options, and an affordable price tag, the Kia Soul has garnered a dedicated fan base. Detailing the model years that stand out for their exceptional value and which ones may present potential pitfalls.

With any long-running vehicle model, not all years are created equal, so we’ll take a deep dive into the Best & Worst Kia Soul Years to help you navigate the sea of options and make an informed decision when it comes to purchasing or leasing this quirky little ride.

Kia Soul Generations

The Kia Soul has undergone a remarkable evolution through its various generations, reflecting both changes in design and technological advancements.

The Soul made a bold entrance into the automotive world with its distinctive boxy shape and vibrant color choices.

This unique styling captured the attention of younger drivers and urban dwellers, setting it apart from other vehicles in its class.

Take a quick look at the different generations of the Kia Soul from 2010.

1st generation (AM)2010-2013
2nd generation (PS)2014-2019
3rd generation (SK3)2020-Present

Kia Soul Best, Neutral, and Worst Years

When we assess the top and bottom model years for the Kia Soul, we base our classification on a thorough review of various factors.

These factors encompass:

  • Owner surveys on reliability
  • Consumer Reports reliability and satisfaction scores
  • Edmunds’, JD Power’s, and Kelley Blue Book’s owner ratings
  • NHTSA recalls and grievances
  • Yearly upkeep expenses
  • Safety assessments

The upcoming chart brings together these ratings to show how owners have experienced the Kia Soul’s different model years.

Best and Worst Kia Soul Years

The table shows how we’ve grouped different Kia Soul model years as best, neutral, or worst based on the criteria mentioned.

GenerationBest YearsNeutral YearsWorst Years
1st generation (AM)20102011N/A20122013
2nd generation (PS)201720182019N/A201420152016
3rd generation (SK3)202120222024N/A20202023

Best and Worst Years for Kia Soul 1st Generation (2010-2013)

The first generation of the Kia Soul, produced from kia soul 2010 to 2013, has seen a mix of highs and lows over the years. 

The Best Year for Kia Soul: 2010, 2011

The years 2010 and 2011 kia soul marked a significant milestone for the Kia Soul 1st Generation, particularly with regard to its engine options.

The introduction of the 1.6L Gamma MPi inline-4 with 122 horsepower and the more powerful 2.0L Beta II inline-4 with 142 horsepower brought a new level of balanced power and fuel economy to this popular compact car.

Drivers were delighted by the responsive performance delivered by these engines, as well as their impressive fuel efficiency, achieving around 26 city and 31 highway mpg.

With multiple airbags strategically placed throughout the vehicle and stability control systems, these vehicles provided a sense of security that was unmatched at the time.

Kia’s commitment to safety during this period laid a solid foundation for subsequent models and helped position the brand as a leader in automotive safety.

The Worst Years: 2012, 2013

The 2012 and 2013 Kia Soul years to avoid were also dark times for Kia Soul owners as they were riddled with severe engine problems that left many drivers stranded on the side of the road.

The issue of seized engines became all too common, forcing owners to shell out significant amounts of money for overhauls or even wholly new engines.

This not only caused financial strain but also shattered the trust in the reliability of these vehicles. Steering issues compounded the frustration, with failing steering couplers leading to unsettling noise and a loss of steering precision.

Best & Worst Kia Soul Years

This created hazardous driving conditions and brought about safety concerns for Kia Soul drivers during this period. 

There are reports of overheating catalytic converters and Hydraulic Electronic Control Unit (HECU) short circuits posing significant fire risks.

These issues not only caused potential safety hazards but also tarnished the reputation of an otherwise popular and reliable vehicle.

The overheating catalytic converters raised concerns about emissions control and engine performance, while the HECU short circuits posed a real danger of fires breaking out unexpectedly.

Best & Worst Kia Soul Years 2nd Generation (2014-2019)

The 2014-2019 model years of the Kia Soul’s second generation have experienced a mix of successes and challenging years.

The Best Kia Soul Years: 2017, 2018, and 2019

With its distinctive design of 2017 and 2018 models, spacious interior, and impressive fuel efficiency, it captured the hearts of consumers looking for a practical yet stylish vehicle.

The introduction of new technology features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto made the 2017 model even more appealing to tech-savvy drivers.

The addition of available safety features like autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning further enhanced the already impressive safety credentials of the vehicle.

Best & Worst Kia Soul Years

2019 is the best Kia Soul year; with the inclusion of the highly efficient 1.6L Gamma II turbocharged engine, drivers could experience an exhilarating 201 horsepower output while still enjoying an impressive fuel economy of 26 cities and 31 highway miles per hour.

This combination of power and efficiency redefined the driving experience, making the Kia Soul a versatile option for both urban commutes and long-distance journeys.

The Worst Years: 2014, 2015, 2016

From Kia Soul 2014 to Kia Soul 2016, it was plagued by a range of issues that left owners frustrated, which was often linked to various electrical and wiring problems.

Excessive oil consumption also reared its head, causing headaches for drivers who found themselves constantly topping up their oil levels.

Headlight malfunctions further compounded the problems as flickering or faulty headlights posed risks during nighttime driving. Persistent steering issues added another layer of frustration, with reports of loose or unresponsive steering affecting the overall driving experience. 

Best & Worst Years for Kia Soul 3rd Generation (2020-Present)

The 3rd generation Kia Soul, introduced in 2020, has seen some significant improvements over its predecessors. 

The Best Years: 2021, 2022, 2024

The Best Years for Kia Soul, particularly the 2021, 2022, and 2024 models, represent a leap forward in terms of powertrain versatility and fuel efficiency.

With options like the peppy 2.0L Nu inline-4 and an available turbocharged engine, drivers can experience a range of driving dynamics that cater to different preferences.

Whether it’s zipping through city streets or tackling long highway stretches, these powertrain options offer a balanced blend of performance and economy.

The impressive fuel efficiency figures of up to 28 cities and 33 highway mpg of Kia Soul mpg further enhance the appeal of these Kia Souls. The availability of such eco-friendly yet potent engines illustrates Kia’s commitment to meeting the evolving needs of modern drivers.

The Worst Years: 2020, 2023

The recalls that plagued the 2020 and 2023 Kia Soul models undoubtedly caught the attention of both consumers and industry professionals.

The potential fire risks stemming from issues such as improperly heat-treated piston oil rings in the 2.0L Nu MPi engines and digital instrument cluster malfunctions in the Kia Soul 2023 raised severe concerns about the safety and reliability of these vehicles.

It’s evident that Kia faced significant quality control challenges during these years, leading to a tarnished reputation and heightened scrutiny from car buyers.

These recalls highlighted the need for automakers to prioritize rigorous testing and proactive quality assurance measures throughout their production processes.

Kia Soul Resale Values

The Kia Soul has been making waves in the automotive market with its distinctive style and practicality, but one aspect that often gets overlooked is its resale value.

Despite being a budget-friendly vehicle, the Kia Soul holds its value remarkably well compared to other subcompact crossovers like the Dodge Charger and Buick Enclave models.

Kia Soul Resale Values

With its boxy design, spacious Kia Soul interior, and strong reliability record, the Soul appeals to a wide range of drivers, contributing to its substantial resale value.

The Kia Soul for sale values tend to be higher for the higher trim levels and models with additional options. This suggests that buyers are willing to pay a premium for the added features and amenities offered by these variants.


It shares the best & worst Kia Soul years with specific model years standing out for their reliability, performance, and value.

Models are widely regarded as some of the best due to their refined design, ample features, and strong safety ratings, and some models have been criticized for specific mechanical issues and lacklustre performance.

It’s essential for potential buyers to carefully research each model year to determine which one best aligns with their needs and preferences.