The 2020 Kia Soul Has the Worst Reliability, but Owners Still Like It

Kia has come a long way over the years and has strived to kill its reputation as a joke of the auto world. It seems to be working. The automaker is now one of the most reliable brands. Yet the Kia Soul failed to impress Consumer Reports and received some poor scores. So why do most owners love their Souls?

The Soul isn’t meeting the new Kia standard

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Kia is topping lists for all the right reasons. In fact, it’s beginning to feel as if the automaker can do no wrong. Or it can’t do much wrong, anyway.

The Soul seems to be the weak link, according to Consumer Reports. The 2020 Kia Soul has a dismal reliability rating of 1 of 5. Areas such as the transmission, brakes, suspension, and body hardware sank the Soul’s score. So did a few owner reviews.

One Soul owner wrote, “Totally stopped on the expressway. Had to be towed to the dealer. They replaced the transmission.”

Another equally frustrated driver stated, “I felt the brakes grab and a crunching noise when I pressed down on the brake pedal. The vehicle came to a hard stop.”

Things haven’t changed much for the 2021 Kia Soul

RELATED: Kia’s Overall Reliability Rating Took a Tumble Thanks to 3 Models

In 2020, the Kia Soul entered its third generation, normally a good thing. In this case, it displeased some review sites such as Consumer Reports by earning poor scores, and the 2021 model is following suit. 

It would make sense for Kia to iron out some of the flaws before releasing the 2021 model, but these things are rarely fixed overnight. That said, the 2020 and 2021 models have much in common. In fact, there aren’t enough differences to separate them when it comes to reliability. They both earned the same reliability and owner satisfaction scores.

But owners stand by their Souls

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Given the poor reliability rating from Consumer Reports, consumers would be forgiven for avoiding the Kia Soul. But that’s not happening. In fact, CR’s survey shows the owner satisfaction score is 4 out of 5 for the 2020 and 2021 models.

So what’s the deal? Why are so many owners standing by the Soul when Consumer Reports thinks they should run the other way?

The Soul’s cheerful looks might have something to do with its appeal. Its boxy shape stands out from the crowd, and its bright colors are pleasing to the eye.

Then there’s the fact that the Soul gets impressive gas mileage: 28 mpg. Sure, that doesn’t hold a candle to EVs that can go 300 miles on a single charge, but the Soul is also far more affordable.

Further amplifying this hatchback’s appeal is its advanced safety features. Unlike some other automakers, Kia offers stellar driver aids as standard equipment. They include forward collision-avoidance assist, lane-keeping assist, driver attention warning, blind-spot warning, lane change assist, and rear cross-traffic alerts. And few automakers can offer so much for only $17,600 to $24,400.

So, perhaps that why owners like the Kia Soul and accept its flaws. For that price, they’re easy to forgive. Add a cute personality, and it’s hard not to fall in love.