The word Icon gets thrown around a lot in the automotive world these days. Everyone wants to call the next “classic” or “collectible,” but the truth is that we can’t really know that and, more importantly, what fun is it to try? You can say a lot about the Kia Soul; it seems to be designed with intent and could be a long-standing, quirky fixture in the automotive scene. But, is the 2021 Kia Soul an Icon? That feels like a bold statement.
Car and Driver calls the Kia Soul an Icon
In the blurb before the Car and Driver’s review of the 2021 Kia Soul, they mention the iconic status of the Porsche 911 and Mercedes-Benz G-class series. The writer then goes on to say, “…the funky Kia Soul just might be worthy of iconic status as well.” While this sounds like a wild claim to me, let’s look at what they found in their review to come to this outlandish stance.
The 2021 Kia Soul overview
Kia markets the Soul as an SUV. Just because it is square doesn’t make it an SUV. It does not come in a four-wheel-drive of any kind and has no ground clearance to speak of. The Kia Soul is not an SUV. Let’s move on.
There are two engine options offered with the 2021 Kia Soul, the base-model 147-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and the higher-level 201-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine, according to Car and Driver. They point out that an electric model is forthcoming, but that is obviously a different deal. Again, we’re moving on. Although the Kia Soul isn’t particularly fuel-efficient or well-equipped in its base version, Car and Driver still likes it for some reason.
Does the 2021 Kia have Soul?
There aren’t many new features for the base model Soul, but the middle range X-Line and GT-Line got new shocks that supposedly improve the little boxy car’s ride. The upper-level EX and Turbo have remote start from the key fob. I’ll be honest, I’m not seeing much in the way of an icon here, but let’s continue onward.
The X-Line and GT-Line models
Both of these middling models start at the same price point, according to Car and Driver. They are two different styles of the same car, which is admittedly pretty cool. The X-Line is aiming to be a more rugged take on the box. The X cars are dressed in black plastic pieces and an exclusive color called “Undercover Green.” Black plastic and green paint is what it takes to be tough, hmm. Ok.
The GT-Line is said to be the “sportier” of the two. Again, all that really appears to be happening here is a special wheel design, some red accents, and an exclusive color option. I’m sorry, but this doesn’t cut it for me. Come on, Kia, you can do better than this.
Engine and driveline specs
Kia offers the smaller motor with either an automatic CVT transmission or, wait for it, a six-speed manual. Now that is the first thing that seems like a noteworthy bit of reporting for 2021 Kia Soul. It’s still slow, but it’s manual. Of course, if you want the bigger 201-hp motor, it only comes in automatic, dashing any hopes of manual fun.
Interior and practical features
Like we said earlier, the fuel economy is fine, but not great. Car and Driver reports 35 mpg on the highway and 25 in town. Surprisingly, their tests found that the higher horsepower turbo car got 3 mpg better than the 2.0 non-turbo car.
The interior is said to be spacious and accommodating. Even still, the interior doesn’t seem that impressive. Sure, it has customizable color schemes and modern technology like a cell phone charging pad and a heads-up display, but so do many other cars. I guess the important part of some of these features in the Kia Soul isn’t normally offered in a car of this price point. I’m really trying to find the “iconic” moment here, but I’m just not seeing it.
The verdict on the Kia’s Soul
“Iconic” is a term that we should not throw around so lightly. The more we use it, the less value it has. Considering the 2021 Kia Soul to a Porsche 911 or Mercedes-Benz G-class is absurd and slanderous. That isn’t an indictment of the Kia; they just have nothing to do with one another. Albeit the 2021 Kia Soul prices range from around $20,000-$30,000, which is good considering the features included, they are hardly iconic.