2021 Kia Seltos vs. Kia Soul



If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, Kia’s compact crossover lineup is a great place to start. With a solid reputation for being affordable and high-quality, plus some of the longest warranties in the business, the Korean automaker is on a lot of people’s short list. Two of their most attractive models are the strong-selling 2020 Soul and the newly introduced 2021 Seltos. Although they’re close siblings that share their powertrains and more, these vehicles have as many differences as similarities. To help you get a handle on which one suits you better, we’ve compared their major attributes below.

Pricing and Looks

If budget is your main factor, the Soul might be the way to go since it has a starting MSRP of $17,490 and the base Seltos begins at $21,990. But if premium touches are what you’re after, lean a little more toward the Seltos.

The 2020 Kia Soul has an unmistakable boxy style, and while it has just undergone a redesign, it still maintains a distinct look that many hip drivers are drawn to these days. The 2021 Seltos has a more traditional crossover appearance along with a unique personality. Unlike the Soul with its simpler fascia, the Seltos is marked by a series of “layers” up front: three tiers of headlights, two levels of grilles, and faux skid plates. At the end of the day, it all comes down to which look you prefer.

On the Inside

Both models have simple yet nice interiors. Although the Soul is boxy on the outside, its cabin shows some curves, with rounded design elements throughout – particularly around the infotainment unit. The Seltos looks a bit more modern and upscale. Its infotainment touchscreen looks like a tablet and extends up from the dash in an ultra-modern way. Both of these Kia models get standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth hands-free and audio streaming, and available premium audio systems. For the utmost in passenger comfort, they’re also eligible for luxuries like heated seats, automatic climate control, leather seating, and wireless smartphone charging.

The size comparison is more or less a draw, since both of these models are space leaders in the compact crossover segment. The Seltos is 172 inches long, versus the Soul’s 165.2 inches, but the Soul is taller and therefore offers a tad more headroom and height space for cargo in the way-back. Their back-seat legroom is essentially the same: around 38 inches. The Seltos’ 26.6 cu. ft. of cargo space behind the second row edges out the Soul’s 24.2 cu. ft., but fold that back row down and they’re just about even, with the Seltos yielding 62.8 cu. ft. to the Soul’s 62.1 cu. ft.

Power and Fuel Economy

The base Soul is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 147 hp and 132 lb.-ft. of torque. The EPA estimates its fuel economy at 27 mpg city and 33 mpg highway with the intelligent variable transmission (and 25 city/31 highway with the manual transmission). There’s an available powertrain consisting of a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder that makes 201 hp and 195 lb.-ft. of torque and is paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Its EPA fuel economy rating is 27 city/32 highway.

The Seltos has the same powertrain specs, but with different output. The base 2.0 liter 4-cylinder makes 146 hp and 132 lb.-ft. of torque and returns 27 mpg city /31 mpg highway. Meanwhile, the turbo 1.6-liter makes 175 hp and 195 lb.-ft. of torque – that’s the same torque this engine makes in the Soul, but with 26 hp less – and gets 25 city/30 highway. Unlike the Soul, the Seltos is available with all-wheel drive, which many drivers consider a must-have.

Driver-Assist Feature

Both models offer an assortment of Kia Drive Wise active driver aids to keep you safe and confident on the road, but these are left off the base trim. On the second trim levels, this technology suite includes lane keeping assist, high beam assist, driver alert warning, forward collision avoidance assist, lane departure warning, and lane following assist. Higher trims add other standard and available active safety features.