The Soul concept was styled by Mike Torpey in early 2005. As a new member of Kia's Design Team in Irvine, California, Torpey was sent to KIA Korea to brainstorm a new vehicle.
After seeing a television documentary on wild boars and learning of their importance in Korean culture, Torpey sketched a caricature of a boar wearing a backpack. The New York Times reported "the boar’s attitude of strength and capability was the image [Torpey] wanted for a new model aimed at hip urban youths."
According to the Automotive news, the Soul had been criticized for a "plasticky" interior and a harsh ride. Both the ride quality and interior were upgraded during the first year of production.
The interior features two front bucket seats and a rear flat-folding bench seat that can adjust to prioritize passenger or cargo volume.
The first generation was marketed with a six-speaker stereo system that includes a CD player, a USB port for iPod connection, and Sirius Satellite Radio. Additional features available for upgrade included additional speakers, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and Bluetooth for hands-free connectivity.
Options included themed special editions as well as 18-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel, racing stripes, "dragon" and "houndstooth" graphics, and LED turn indicators.
For 2011, the Kia Soul was updated with more conventional pull-out door handles, standard metallic interior trim, redesigned instrument cluster, leather shift boot, and switchblade style fold-in integrated key and remote, with an optional Smart Key available in the Exclaim ("!") trim.
For model year 2012, the Soul received revised exterior and interior styling and new powertrains. In North America the updated 1.6 liter engine, featuring direct injection, makes 138 hp/123 lb-ft; the 2.0 liter engine makes 164 hp/148 lb-ft of torque. The 1.6 now delivers 25-26 mpg in the city and 30-31 on the highway. The 2.0 returns 23-24 in the city and 28-29 on the highway. New features included navigation, UVO infotainment, leather and heated seats and automatic climate control.
As part of the 2012 upgrades, European models were fitted with new 1.6-litre GDI petrol or 1.6 CRDi diesel engines, both of which can be specified with an automatic gearbox or a new six-speed manual gearbox, replacing the five-speed unit in the old version. As a result, the petrol offers a 14 bhp uplift in power compared to its predecessor, while returning improved fuel economy. The modified 1.6 CRDi diesel returns 57.6mpg and has cut its CO2 emissions from 138g/km to 129g/km - particularly important for the European market where taxation is based on carbon emissions.
The 2013 North American Kia Soul received upgrades including 3 new colors, a bulged hood, revised grille with black chrome accents, LED red tail lights, LED amber front turn signals under the headlights and white LED running lights under the front turn signals. The exterior Kia badges became now smooth instead of raised lettering. Inside, audio controls were relocated to the steering wheel and Bluetooth became standard across the range. Upper trims included power folding heated mirrors with turn signal repeaters. The center display for sound system was previously red LED and was revised to include a full color range. The Kia Soul will be a mini SUV after 2013 in its second generation which the Kia Track'ster will succeed the first generation Kia Soul.Kia Soul Denim (2010)
The Denim is a limited (1200 units) version of 2010 Kia Soul Soul+ for US market featuring a blue body colour with white racing stripes, white painted side-view mirrors, and white, 18-inch, alloy wheels. It appeared in June 2009.Kia Soul Dragon (2010)
The Shadow Dragon edition is based on the Soul trim line and was limited to about 1900 units. Exterior details include shadow black paint with matte-black dragon graphics on its hood and tailgate, gloss-black bumper inserts, a body-color rear wing and 18 inch black alloy wheels. The interior features heated, black leather trimmed seats. MSRP for Shadow Dragon Soul starts at $18,195 with a five speed manual transmission or $19,195 with the available four-speed automatic. Kelly Blue Book - Detroit Auto ShowSoul Flex (2010)
Kia Motors presented the Soul Flex at the 2010 São Paulo International Auto Show. The Soul Flex is the first Korean flexible-fuel vehicle capable of running on any blend from E20-E25 gasoline (mandatory Brazilian blend) to E100 (neat ethanol). The new Soul Flex delivers a 44% improvement in fuel efficiency compared with the existing gasoline model, as well as superior power and torque.
The North American version of the Soul is initially available with one of two inline four-cylinder gasoline engines. The base model is powered by a 1.6-litre unit producing 122 bhp (91 kW) and mated exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission. Higher trims feature a 2.0-litre unit producing 142 bhp (106 kW) connected to a standard five-speed manual transmission with a four-speed automatic available as a stand-alone option. A 1.6-litre diesel engine producing 126 bhp (94 kW) and 260 N·m (190 lb·ft) torque is offered in European models instead of the 2.0-liter gas, mated to a five-speed manual gearbox.
For the 2012 model, the Soul received two new powertrains and a new engine. Mated with a 6 speed manual or a six speed automatic, with either the new Nu 2.0-litre D-cvvt engine or the slightly older Gamma 1.6-litre d-cvvt. The Gamma 1.6 gets a new dual variable valve timing (128 hp), and in some countries, gets a direct injection fuel system.
Kia Soul earned a maximum five star safety rating from Euro NCAP . In 2009, According to Euro NCAP, the five star safety rating places Kia Soul among the safest B-segment family cars in the world. The Soul was awarded the maximum five star safety rating by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), but only on the New Zealand version. Australian versions get 4 out of 5 stars.
Euro NCAP test results for a LHD, 5-door hatchback variant on a 2009 registration:Kia Soul Concept (2006)
The design was based on the Kia Mesa concept and it was initially introduced as a compact crossover SUV with a 5-door SUV body styling with 5 seats and suicide doors. It included a 2.0 L I4 engine, 5-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability and adaptive cruise control.
The vehicle was unveiled at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan.
By late 2008, Kia announced it would put the car into production as a 2009 model.Kia Soul Burner, Diva, Searcher (2008)
The Kia Soul Burner, Diva, and Searcher are concept vehicles, created by Kia's European design team, under the guidance of Kia's Chief Design Officer, Peter Schreyer.
The Soul Diva was created as a fashion accessory for a style-conscious young-at-heart woman, who regards her car to be as important as her entire outfit. It included a white, gold and black colour scheme, full-length tinted glass panoramic roof, glossy black imitation leather, using 'quilted' stitching and trimmed to look like sofas, and black long-pile 'Pony-hide' carpet.
The Soul Burner was described as the 'bad boy' of Soul concepts. It included a solid roof panel and no roof rails, 245/40R19 tires, 4 bucket seats, and L-shaped day-light LED driving lamps around the outer edges. At the rear, two vertical exhaust pipes were placed at the extremes of the bumper.
Kia's Soul Searcher was designed to capture the spirit of Korean and Far Eastern culture, with a focus on achieving personal inner peace and creating a calm cocoon for the occupants. It included an old leather finish on the bonnet, powered folding roof, tailgate panel, dashboard, door panels and steering wheel rim, plus grey-beige felt floor and seats.
The Soul Hamstar Edition, introduced in 2011, featured body colored bumpers, rear sport spoiler, black 18-inch wheels, black fender vents w/side marker repeater, rear bumper applique, matte alloy fuel door, hamstar exterior graphics, black leather seating, heated seats, hamstar edition floor mats, smart key push button starting, automatic climate control, fog lights, and leather steering wheel and shift knob.
The vehicles were unveiled at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show. The Soul Burner later appeared in the 2008 SEMA auto show.Kia Soul Hybrid (2008)
The Soul Hybrid/Eco-Soul is a concept vehicle with Gamma 1.6L petrol engine, an electric motor rated 15 kW (20 PS; 20 hp) and 105 N·m (77 lbf·ft), continuously variable transmission, ISG (Idle Stop&Go), regenerative braking.
The vehicle was unveiled at the 2008 Paris Motor Show and later at Auto Shanghai and later at the Canadian International Auto Show.Kia Soul'ster Concept (2009)
The Soul'ster is a concept vehicle which is a subcompact crossover SUV with a 2-door, 4-seater cabriolet SUV body styling with an open roof over the rear seats. It includes dual chrome exhaust, polished aluminium exhaust tips featuring carbon-fiber interior sleeves, and 19-inch 5-spoke aluminum alloy wheels. It is similar to the Jeep Wrangler. The vehicle was unveiled at the 2009 NAIAS.
The production version includes a choice of 1.6L I4 rated 120 hp (89 kW) with 5-speed manual transmission or 2.0L I4 rated 120 hp (89 kW) with 5-speed manual transmission. It will go on sale in 2010.
After the Soul's release, Kia USA launched commercials in a campaign titled "A new way to roll", created by Los Angeles-based ad agency David&Goliath, and featuring city streets with animated hamsters on stationary hamster wheels. The commercials have attracted popularity on video-sharing sites and were awarded "Automotive Ad of the Year" at the Nielsen Automotive Advertising Awards.
Featured songs include "Do What You Do" by Marz, "Fort Knox" by Goldfish, "Junkyard" by The Potbelleez, "Colours" by Calvin Harris, "The Choice Is Yours (Revisited)" by Black Sheep, "Applause" by Lady Gaga and, during the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, "Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO.
A 2013 Soul commercial, released August 2012, featured the song "In My Mind (Axwell Remix)" by Ivan Gough, Feenixpawl and Georgi Kay with hamsters at an 18th-century opera house to the song.
In October 2011, the Kia Soul Hamsters were inducted into the Madison Avenue Walk of Fame, advertising industry’s equivalent of Hollywood and Vine. As of 2011, Kia is also the only car manufacturer to be inducted. From 2010 to 2012, Kia released a series of commercials for the Soul featuring professional golfer Michelle Wie.
As an April Fool's Day joke, Kia published a press release on a new environmentally friendly concept based on the Soul in 2010, called the Air Propulsion and Retardation Installation Line. The concept used sensors on the bumpers and retractable panels to harness the flow of wind.The Kia Soul earned a red dot design award in 2009
"Interior of the Year Winners" award from WardsAuto in 2009
Popular Mechanics comparison - Kia Soul surpassed the Nissan Cube and the Scion xB.
Kia Soul Named to the Kelley Blue Book's '5 Great Deals' List
Kia Soul Recognized by Texas Auto Writers Association as 'Best Value'
Kia Wins PETA's Goody animal-friendly advertising award
The Soul's residual value after three years was valued at 56 percent of the original value to take the top place in its segment in the Automotive Lease Guide's latest report. It surpassed the Nissan Cube and the Scion xB. link
Kia Soul Recognized on 'Coolest New Cars Under US $18,000' List by Kelley Blue Book's Kbb.com
Kia Soul’ster awarded 2009 Concept Truck of the Year
Named to 'Top 10 Back-to-School Cars' List by Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com
Kia Soul Named to Time Magazine’s 'Most Exciting Cars of 2010' List
Kia Soul Named one of '10 Great And Safe Rides For Teens' by AutoWeek Magazine
Kia Soul Given '2010 Automotive Excellence Award' By Popular Mechanics
Kia Soul Named "Best Car 2009" by the Chilean daily newspaper La Tercera, Kia Motors Chile was also selected as "Best Maker of the Year 2009" in Chile.
Kia Soul Named 'Small Car of the Year' by FAMA Magazine
Kia Soul Named 'Best Hatchback of 2010' by Cars.com
Edmunds.com names Kia Soul as one of the “Top Recommended” Vehicles for 2010
Unveiled at the 2013 New York and Frankfurt auto shows, the second generation Soul is based on Kia's Track'ster concept, and offers an increase in torsional rigidity of 28.7%, wheelbase increased to 2,570 mm (101 in), width increased to 1,800 mm (71 in) and the same overall height of 1,600 mm (63.0 in). The redesign features a wraparound greenhouse, high-mounted tail lights, large trapezoidal lower air intake and "floating" body color panel set into the liftgate.
The U.S. model went on sale as 2014 model year vehicle, and early models include a choice of 1.6 Gamma GDI or 2.0 Nu MPI engines, 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission; Base Soul, Soul Plus and Soul Exclaim trim levels.
The European model was set to go on sale in early 2014, with UK launch in Spring 2014. Early models include a choice of 1.6-litre GDi petrol or CRDi diesel engines (from the previous generation Kia Soul), six-speed manual or automatic transmission, three different roof colors (black, white and red), a choice of 11 body colors. Korean market models receive the same two engines, with the two-liter gasoline engine currently reserved for North American buyers.
For the 2016 model, the Soul is offered with a 7-speed DCT in place of the 6-speed automatic transmission.
The second generation Kia Soul shares its platform with the second generation Kia Cee'd hatchback. 66 percent of the chassis utilizes either Ultra High Strength Steel (35 percent) or High Strength Steel (31 percent). The front subframe uses four bushings (the first generation has none) and the shock absorbers on the rear torsion bar are now mounted vertically allowing for more suspension travel. The Kia Soul is a subcompact crossover SUV in its 2nd generation currently, which is related to the Hyundai i20 and the Hyundai Creta.Kia Track'ster concept (2012)
This is a 3-door concept subcompact crossover SUV which presaged the second generation Soul. It is now having a subcompact crossover SUV-like styling and it abandons the compact crossover SUV-like styling, it has custom 19-inch wheels designed by Kia's California design team and HRE, 14-inch Brembo vented and cross-drilled front disc brakes with six-piston calipers, 13.6-inch rear brake discs with four-piston calipers, angled roof accented with Inferno Orange, lengthened front door with smooth billet push-style handles, carbon fiber lower side valances in Inferno Orange Orange and incorporate functional rear-brake cooling ducts, back hatch incorporates a horizontal Inferno Orange "backpack" panel five inches wider than a production Soul, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine rated 250 hp, electronically controlled four-wheel-drive system, short-throw six-speed manual transmission with a stubby spherical shift lever, Inferno Orange suede-covered racing seats, Granite Gray leather upholstery, Granite Gray suede wraps the sport steering wheel and door panels, red-glowing nacelles, rear seats removed and replaced with a fully integrated equipment tray and spare-tire well, paneled bins in Inferno Orange behind seats, custom rear strut brace incorporates a quick-release handle to allow for fast wheel changes.
The vehicle was unveiled in 2012 Chicago Auto Show."Red Zone" edition (2014-)
It is a limited (2000 units) version of 2014 Kia Soul Plus with white body colour, body kit with red accents, redesigned front grille, front and rear fascias, and side skirts; custom 18-inch alloy wheels, 2.0-liter gasoline direct injected (GDI) four-cylinder engine, six-speed automatic transmission, black cloth seats with red stitching, leather steering wheel, black-leather dash hood with red stitching, black carpeted floor mats with red piping, sport pedals; shift knob ring, air vent ring, dash speakers and console tray trim in red.Kia Soul EV (2015)
In 2013, Kia started testing prototype versions of a Soul electric vehicle. In November 2013, Kia announced they would be producing the Soul EV and it would go on sale in 2014. The Soul EV would be based on the second generation Kia Soul. Powered by a 27 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack, the Soul EV has a target range of over 120 miles and fast charging capability of 100 kW DC via a CHAdeMO connection.
The vehicle was first showcased at the Chicago Auto Show in February 2014 where Kia said the Soul EV will be offered in California, Oregon, New York, New Jersey and Maryland. Kia is targeting regions with the largest EV markets and infrastructure, and plans to offer the Soul EV in other markets in the near future.Kia Soul Autonomous Vehicle (2016)
Kia demonstrated their upcoming "Drive Wise" sub-brand at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show with a Kia Soul EV modified with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) technology.
Euro NCAP test results for a LHD, 5-door hatchback variant on a 2014 registration: