Should You Go Kia Soul or Kia Seltos?

Much of Kia’s ascension into greatness recently has a lot to do with the carmaker’s growing lineup of SUVs. As you’re shopping around, you’ll see that Kia almost has a response to each SUV category in today’s market.  The 2020 Kia Soul is a popular option worth considering and so is the all-new 2021 Kia Seltos. Here’s what you should consider when deciding between the two.


Some say the Soul is starting to feel played out but overall this subcompact SUV still appeals to a variety of buyers. This is largely due to its unmistakably unique style which exemplifies spunkiness and charm. Although, if you are looking for something that’s more contemporary and sleek, you’ll probably be more drawn to the Seltos.

Performance and capability

Neither the Soul nor the Seltos are particularly known for fast acceleration, but their powertrain options are decent enough. The Soul comes standard with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes a 147 horsepower. This option does feel pretty sleepy at times though. It’s worth looking at the more powerful turbocharged 201-hp, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine on the Soul GT-Line Turbo trim.

The same story goes for the Seltos. Its standard 146-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is satisfactory but takes a little while to pick up speed. For more power on the Seltos, you can opt for the available turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder that garners a 175 hp.

Generally speaking, the Seltos makes for a smooth ride with either engine. We wouldn’t say the Soul is very smooth, but it’s fun to drive. It’s also worth mentioning that both the Soul and Seltos have good fuel economy ratings.

On the inside

Both the Soul and Seltos have nice-looking cabins, although they are both plastic heavy on the inside. Cloth upholstery is the standard on both models but they can be upgraded with faux leather. The Soul can be made more luxurious with genuine leather.  Even though both of these SUVs are small, they are pretty generous on head- and legroom.

As far as infotainment features go, both the Soul and Seltos come standard with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. These infotainment systems are very easy to use. The Seltos comes with a slightly bigger touchscreen display than the Soul’s. Unfortunately, Kia hasn’t made advanced infotainment features like a wifi hotspot or wireless available on either model.

Reliability and safety

The Soul has an excellent predicted reliability score from both Consumer Reports and J.D. Power. This crossover also has earned top crash-test scores from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and was named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Not many advanced safety features come standard on the Soul but items like forward-collision warning and pedestrian detection are available. 

The Seltos is also available with advanced safety features. It has not been fully ranked for reliability or safety yet since it’s so new. Even though it hasn’t been fully ranked, it’s still considered a good SUV.

The final verdict

The Soul starts at $17,490 and the Seltos starts at $21,990.  You get a smoother ride with the Seltos but neither of these SUVs is particularly known for their performance. Deciding between the two really comes down to your personal style.