Is the Kia Soul a Car or SUV?

kia soul

RL GNZLZ/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0


The line between cars and SUVs has gotten blurry. Adding in the category of crossovers in between cars and SUVs hasn't helped clear up the issue very much. That is evident when you look at the Kia Soul, a new car-slash-SUV-slash-crossover type of vehicle that's on television commercials and on the road.

Kia has the cube-shaped auto listed under crossovers and minivans--perhaps that makes it even more confusing. In 2017, Car & Driver awarded it under the category subcompact SUV. More confusion.

According to a review in the publication: 

We suspect that, to most people, a crossover’s true appeal is more deeply rooted in elements such as a raised seating position and increased interior space versus a car than in mostly pointless off-road ambitions. So while the Soul lacks an all-wheel-drive option, the goodness of its overall package more than makes up for that omission. Its cabin is richly trimmed and spacious—for example, its headroom and rear-seat legroom shame most of the competition—and it affords more cargo space than any competitor.
So while marketing is surely a factor in the Soul’s sales success, it’s the Kia’s purity of mission that impresses us most. Rather than settling for the mere image of capability and adventurous spirit, the Soul takes the small-crossover ideal a step further and backs up its outward appeal with a practical and enjoyable package that hits its target dead-on.

Mechanics and Specs

  • The 2012 models had a 1.6-liter, 138-hp engine. If you're confused about whether the Kia Soul is a car or SUV, that may scream "car."
  • The 2017 models offered a 130-hp engine or the Turbo trim's 201-hp engine. Both engines were four cylinders.
  • It's a front-engine, front-wheel drive vehicle with five doors.
  • Other options have included 18-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel, racing stripes, different graphics, and LED turn indicators.
  • The car has two front bucket seats and a rear flat-folding bench seat.
  • The 2016 models offered a Designer Collection package that gave the exterior two tones of paint: White with red roof or red with black roof. The package also included 18-inch alloy wheels with black spokes, as well as a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The company also offered an Umber Color package that had exterior color choices of Shadow Black, Titanium, Fathom Blue, or Cloud White.
  • The 2017 Kia Soul had a starting price of $15,990 for the base model with a manual transmission. Another trim, the Turbo Exclaim, started at $22,650. A $3,000 Tech package added even more technology must-haves including HID headlamps and LED foglights. Another option included a panoramic moonroof.


  • The vehicle made its official debut at the 2008 Paris Motor Show.
  • As of 2017, it was in its second-generation model.
  • A series of the U.S. television commercials for the Kia Soul were dubbed, "A new way to roll." David&Goliath was the advertising agency that launched the popular ads with hamsters driving the cars. The ads received the "Automotive Ad of the Year" award from Nielsen at their Automotive Advertising Awards.
  • It was designed in California but is made in South Korea. 
  • The Kia Soul EV is another trim of the Kia Soul that is an electric version of the vehicle.