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Finding a good used car under $20,000 is a challenge right now. Between inflation and supply chain issues, prices of quality used cars quickly skyrocketed to insane levels. Prices have started declining recently, but new and used car inventories are still well below their normal levels. Even so, it is possible to find a quality used car for under $20,000, one with features you want and that fits your budget. 

One such car is the 2018 Kia Soul. It’s one of U.S. News’ highest rated compact cars, winning the Best Compact Car for the Money award. 

The 2018 Kia Soul is roomy and loaded with features 

The Kia Soul’s boxy shape makes it easy to fit people and a lot of gear inside. Both front and rear passengers have ample head and legroom. Fold down the rear seats, and the Soul will swallow almost fifty cubic feet of cargo. With the seats up, it still has more than 18 cubic feet of room, which is more space than a lot of large sedans.  

The interior space is impressive, but it’s not the Soul’s only party trick. It offers a surprising amount of features, including a standard 7-inch touch-screen with smartphone connectivity and an intuitive, easy-to-use interface. Other standard features include alloy wheels, a USB port, satellite radio, and a six-speaker stereo.    

U.S. News recommends the Plus trim level for its more powerful engine and available options packages. It’s a step up from the base trim level and offers a six-speed automatic transmission, fog lights, and heated outside mirrors. Other features include a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, and an eight-speaker Harman Kardon stereo. 

A Soul with the Primo Lit option package gets heated and ventilated power adjustable front seats, a heated steering wheel, and a panoramic sunroof. Safety equipment includes adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking.

2018 Kia Soul specs and performance

Badging of the 2018 Kia Soul that's considered a quality used car
2018 Kia Soul | Kia

The base 1.6-liter four-cylinder produces a meager 130 horsepower and offers a choice of a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. A 2.0-liter four-cylinder is available on the Soul Plus and puts out 161 horsepower. The top-of-the-line Soul Exclaim gets a 1.6-liter turbo with 201 hp and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.  

Fuel economy for the Soul is rated at up to 26 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. In addition to those numbers, Car and Driver has the following specs: 


  • Wheelbase: 101.2 in
  • Length: 163 in
  • Width: 70.9 in
  • Height: 63.5 in

Is the 2018 Kia Soul worth considering? 

The 2018 Kia Soul quality used car
2018 Kia Soul | Kia

How Big Is the Kia Soul?

As mentioned earlier, U.S. News awarded the Soul 2018 Best Compact Car for the Money, and it was ranked first on its list of compact cars. The digital media company recommends it for its roomy cabin and the large cargo area of an SUV in a small, easy-to-drive package.

Edmunds also praised the 2018 Kia Soul for its roomy interior and cargo space, saying it’s “more appealing than its newfound competitors in a few ways.” Its editors also recommend it because of its safety features and excellent crash scores. Finally, Edmunds summarized its review by saying the Soul offers a “list of comfort, convenience and infotainment items at a price that undercuts those little SUVs considerably. You can get a lot more for your money by opting for the Soul.” 

A quality small, used car, the Kia Soul offers a combination of safety and versatility that’s unique to the compact car segment. Many people consider the Soul more of a crossover or tall wagon because of its shape and interior space. And while it may be small, it doesn’t scrimp on the features or option packages.