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Soul searching: What does the future hold for Kia's iconic hatch?

There might not be room in Kia's lineup for both the Soul and Seltos SUV.

2022 Kia Soul
The Soul still looks so cool.
Kia

The Kia Soul is a car that's extremely easy to recommend. Quirky, functional and loaded with features, the Soul brings a lot to the table -- and for a relatively affordable price. However, the same can be said of Kia's new Seltos SUV, which joined the lineup last year. And as Kia looks to the future, there might not be room for both.

"We're watching right now how Soul and Seltos interact," Russell Wager, Kia's vice president of marketing, said in an interview at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Wednesday. The two vehicles overlap in terms of size and feature content, and Kia is finding that customers come to a dealer wanting one but often leave with another.

"Seltos comes with all-wheel drive, Soul doesn't," Wager said. "That was one of the things we always heard from Soul customers." He reiterated that there are no plans to have an AWD Soul. "It's not. It's not going to be."

What's not to like about the Seltos?

Kia

When asked if Kia plans to continue selling the two alongside each other, Wager said that Soul still has loyal fans in Southern markets where all-wheel drive isn't required. But in the Northeast and Northwest, customers "come in on Soul and walk out with the all-wheel-drive Seltos."

Soul sales haven't completely tanked, however. In fact, the Soul still outsells the Seltos. But those numbers are declining. The Soul's heyday was in 2015 when Kia moved 147,000 examples; in 2020, the company sold less than half that. Meanwhile, the Seltos continues to gain momentum.

The case for the Soul gets even tougher as Kia moves toward its increasingly electrified future. The current Soul EV was supposed to be offered in the US but those plans were scrapped. And in the face of the upcoming EV6 and a range of other EVs, a next-generation electric Soul seems even less likely.

For now, at least, the Soul seems steady, with both naturally aspirated and turbocharged models, as well as an X-Line trim, for those who want the appearance of something more SUV-y... like a Seltos.