The Worst Kia Soul Model Year You Should Never Buy

The spunky little Kia Soul took the U.S. car buyers by storm. Its first generation was introduced two years prior, but Americans got to sit behind the wheel of their favorite outlandish colored, boxy-styled, Korean fun machine in 2010.

It wasn’t long before the Soul became one of Kia’s best-sellers. Since its inception, however, there have been a few model years for Soul that didn’t fare so well. In fact, there’s one year, in particular, you should never buy at all.

Kia Soul has soul

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Staring contest. #KiaSoul

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The peppy 147-hp four-cylinder or 201-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engines suit this fun little subcompact SUV just fine. Completely redesigned for 2020, the Soul offers great cargo capacities, tech features, and comfortable seating.

In 2019, it earned the Cars U.S. News Best New Cars for Teens awards too. The fuel efficiency is good at 27 and 33 mpg. The tech is user-friendly and includes Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto connectivity. Overall, it’s a reliable hatchback. But, there were a few years that Soul missed the mark, and might be worth avoiding.

Kia Soul experiences a rough few model years

If buying a used Kia Soul suits your preferences and budgets, there are a few model years that historically have been problematic for Soul. Based on actual consumer complaints, recalls, and technical service bulletins, compiled by, 2012 through 2015 were the worst model years.
From steering problems to serious engine concerns, consumers were making several trips to their dealerships. With well over 100 TSBs for those years, Kia did their best to address the issues.

Which years are considered the worst model years?

The 2014 model year presented the highest number of complaints overall, but cites 2015 as the worst year for Kia Soul. The engine failures were reported most frequently, and also had high repair costs.

These engine problems were surfacing around the 72,000-mile mark and were costing $2,720 in engine replacement costs. If buying used is your intention, don’t buy one of these model years that hasn’t already been remedied, or you may end up with the same fate as these documented owners.

Who is the ideal consumer for a Kia Soul (and who isn’t)?

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Fuel up. What's your daily pit stop? #KiaSoul

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The Kia Soul is a reliable ride and certainly presents plenty of positive reviews. It’s not for everyone, though. Some may consider the base engine to be weak compared to others in its class. Others have a lackluster reaction to fuel economy, too. A significant drawback for anyone considering the subcompact SUV may be that it’s missing an AWD option. The Kia Soul is FWD only.

This configuration of features isn’t for everyone, but it can be suited perfectly for some. It might be the ideal teen hatchback, or perfect for anyone who doesn’t mind these few setbacks. The price tag tends to seal the deal as well. You can buy a brand-new model right now within the $15,988 to $21,988 range.

Alternatives to test-drive

The Kia Soul can be a great addition to your driveway, but if you’re still not convinced, there are some top-notch contenders in this segment that may be worth a test drive. Another notable mention, especially in the best teen car category is the Honda Fit.

If the boxy style is appealing to you, you might love the Jeep Renegade. The Honda HR-V, Toyota C-HR, Mazda CX-3, or Hyundai Elantra GT can bring a better range of interior features. If you’re sold on the Kia brand, you might want to also look at the Kia Sportage.

Ultimately, your preferences and budget will determine which model suits your lifestyle the best. The Kia Soul is certainly a viable option, even if you’re considering a used model. Just beware of past engine problems before you buy and make sure you do your homework.