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Josh Rosenberg By Josh Rosenberg
Updated Nov. 15, 2023

2011 Kia Soul Review, Pros And Cons, Reliability, Mechanical Watchlist

Related: How To Get The Best Deal On A "Brand New" Kia Soul

With extremely high new and used car prices, many carbuyers are looking for "older" vehicles as a way to save some significant dollars. And, of course, this puts the spotlight on reliability and maintenance issues more than ever.

2011 Kia Soul

It also turns out that time has proven the 2011 Kia Soul has earned a fairly solid reputation for reliability. In fact, a properly maintained 2011 Soul should be able to last around 250,000 miles with only minor electrical and brake issues. And at today's prices, it could make a good buy given the reliability and comfort.

This doesn't mean the 2011 Soul is perfect, however. Of course, all cars have mechanical issues over time. So here, we'll review this older Soul's features as released in 2011 as well as its pros and cons, reliability, and also specific possible mechanical issues that some owners have reported so they can be checked before purchase.

But first, and very importantly, some key tips ...

Things To Do When Considering An "Older" Vehicle

Locate Lower Mileage Vehicles: They are certainly out there to be found with careful and patient shopping. Be willing to drive a distance if you have to.

Vehicle History and Maintenance: Ask for the vehicle history report (CarFax or AutoCheck) as well as documented maintenance and repair records. If not provided by the Dealer or private seller, it's best to move on.

Pre-Purchase Inspection: Have the vehicle independently inspected before making a final decision. This usually will cost in the $150-$200 range but is well worth it given the potentially thousands in savings over the long term.

And Know How To Get The Lowest Price:

Get Dealers To Compete For your Business: When you are searching vehicles to possibly purchase, the following is the absolute best way to get the lowest price, and it is extremely easy and stress-free.

Just go to a national car listing site, (I happen to prefer for their massive dealer participation and ease of use, although others will get the job done as well) and find several listed vehicles that you may be interested in.

Then write something like the following in the "Check Availability" box or "Contact Dealer" box or whatever the site you are using uses.

"Hello, I've contacted several dealers about cars I am interested in and am looking for the best value. I am also a serious buyer planning to make a decision soon. Please send me your best out-the-door price. Thank you.

After receiving the offers, follow up by explaining that based on the price, you're leaning in another direction but still really like their car and would certainly consider another offer. When dealers drop out, you'll know you're at the best price.

Using the internet to get dealers to compete for your business is extremely effective. More details on this and how to intereact with the dealers can be found here at Best Used Car Buying Techniques.

2011 Kia Soul Review

The 2011 Kia Soul offers a youthful and edgy style, nimble handling, everyday practicality and versatility to the hatchback/wagon segment. It also offers a host of features, a high level of customization, a roomy interior, affordable pricing, very good fuel efficiency and a long warranty. In other words, it has an awful lot going for it.

Having made its debut for the 2010 model year, the 2011 Soul also added some improvements, including new rear shock absorbers to better cushion the ride, standard rear disc brakes (as opposed to last year's drums), push button start, heated exterior mirrors, a trip computer and new door handles among the more notable.

Trims, Standard Features And Options:

The 2011 Kia Soul is a four-door hatchback/wagon offered in four trims: base, +, ! and Sport (yes, there are some quirky names ... a bit like the Soul's personality).

Standard features on the base Soul include power windows, power doorlocks, power mirrors, air conditioning, a tilt steering wheel, a trip computer, 15-inch steel wheels, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat and a 4-speaker audio system with satellite radio, a CD/MP3 player, and USB and auxiliary audio jacks.

Car Buying Tips:

Easily Negotiate The Lowest Price

Do This For The Best Trade-In Price

The Truth About Wholesale And Trade-in Values

How To Get The Lowest Rate Car Loan

The Soul + then adds a larger engine, keyless entry, cruise control, Bluetooth, 16-inch alloy wheels, power-adjustable external mirrors, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, a height-adjustable driver seat, tinted rear windows, metallic interior trim accents and two more stereo speakers. Optional features for the Soul + include a sunroof, foglights, an upgraded stereo system and floor mats.

Moving up to the Soul ! includes all the above features and options plus 18-inch wheels, two-tone upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and heated outside mirrors.

The Soul Sport is equipped much like the Soul ! (however, the sunroof is optional), but also adds a sport-tuned suspension, metal pedals, a red and black two-tone interior, and unique exterior trim accents.

Also available is a Premium package for the Soul ! and Sport models which adds keyless ignition, leather upholstery and heated front seats. Available stand-alone optional features include a body kit, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a cargo cover.

Engines, Powertrain And Gas Mileage:

Under the hood of the base 2011 Kia Soul is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 122-horsepower and 115-pound-feet of torque, paired with a 5-speed manual transmission. Powering the other models is a 2.0-liter inline-4 that produces 142-horsepower and 137-lb-ft of torque. It's paired with either the standard 5-speed manual transmission or an optional 4-speed automatic.

The EPA-estimated gas mileage for the base Soul comes in at an appealing 26 mpg city and 31 mpg on the highway. The 2.0-liter models are rated at 24 mpg city and 30 mpg highway with either transmission.


Standard safety features for all 2011 Kia Souls include traction control, stability control, four-wheel antilock disc brakes (ABS) with brake assist, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and active front head restraints.


2011 Kia Soul interior

The 2011 Soul's cabin is attractive, roomy, practical and user-friendly. The unique and protruding center stack makes for easy access to audio and climate controls, while colorful features, like an illuminated speaker that pulses with the music, add attractive and modern florishes.

Space is also at a premium providing comfortable accommodations and sizable storage possibilities. The high-mounted seating, which is both comfortable and supportive, provides ample legroom for even very tall passengers, while the high roof line allows for plenty of headroom as well. Cargo capacity behind the rear seats comes in at a useful 19 cubic feet and can be expanded to 53 cubic feet by folding them flat.


The drive of the 2011 Kia Soul is surprisingly capable and agile, particularly for the Sport model. Thanks to the 2.0-liter's decent low-end torque, the Soul does well around town and gets up to speed adequately on the highway, while providing an overall comfortable drive (thanks to improved rear shocks this year).

However, those who opt for the optional 18-inch wheels should note that they can increase noise level as well as ride harshness over major road imperfections.

While the 2.0-liter Soul has been described as "fun to drive", the 1.6-liter version is more challenged to get the Soul underway, but it does get the job done ... and with very good gas mileage. Since it's only available with the manual transmission, however, it is expected that the vast majority of buyers will gravitate toward the more capable 2.0-liter.

2011 Kia Soul Pros

Distinctive Design: The unique boxy shape stands out in the crowd, appealing to those seeking a different look in the compact car segment.

Spacious Interior: Surprisingly roomy for its size, offering ample headroom and legroom for passengers in both the front and rear seats.

Good Cargo Space: The squared-off shape maximizes cargo capacity, providing more room for luggage or other items.

Affordable Pricing: Generally offered at a competitive price point, making it an attractive option for budget-conscious buyers.

Decent Fuel Efficiency: Offers decent fuel economy for its class, saving on gas costs for daily commuting.

2011 Kia Soul Cons

Engine Performance: Some drivers find the base engine's performance to be adequate but not particularly powerful, especially when fully loaded or during highway merging.

Interior Quality: While functional, the materials used in the cabin might not feel as high-quality as some competitors, leading to a less premium feel.

2011 Kia Soul rear view

Ride Comfort: The ride can be a bit stiff, especially on rough roads, which might not be as comfortable for passengers.

Road Noise: Wind and road noise could be more noticeable compared to other vehicles in its class.

Limited Features: Base models might lack some of the modern tech and features found in newer vehicles.

2011 Kia Soul Reliability

Good Track Record: Kia, in general, has been improving its reliability over the years, and the Soul has shown a respectable track record for dependability.

Long Warranty: Kia offers one of the longest warranties in the industry. And while the 2011 Soul is past the coverage period, it still shows Kia's overall confidence in their vehicles which is a further indication of their reliability.

Simplicity in Design: The 2011 Soul has a relatively straightforward design mechanically, which could contribute to fewer potential issues compared to more complex vehicles.

Affordable Maintenance: Generally, the cost of maintenance and repairs for the Soul tends to be reasonable compared to some competitors.

2011 Kia Soul Possible Mechanical Problem Watchlist

While the 2011 Kia Soul has proven to have a very good reliability record, there have been instances of owners reporting mechanical problems that are not widespread. All used vehicles have such mechanical issues and they should be checked before buying.

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It's important to note that the prevalence of these problems can vary among individual vehicles, and prior regular maintenance as well as previous owner driving habits can significantly impact an individual car's performance and longevity.

Electronic Stability Control: The electronic stability control system has had a problem with the stop lamp switch, usually in the first 10,000 miles. There’s a recall for this and nearly all Souls with this problem have already had the free repair.

Control Arms: Worn out control arms for the suspension could be an issue at around 100,000 miles. The cost for replacing them is approximately $600.

Other 100,000 Mile Issues: As a Soul reaches 100,000 miles owners may need to replace the fuel level sending unit for around $675, the brake booster costing approximately $650, and the tie rods at about $125.

Engine Issues: Some owners have reported engine-related problems, such as rough idling, stalling, or loss of power. This could be due to issues with sensors, fuel system components, or engine control modules.

Transmission Problems: Instances of transmission issues, including rough shifting or premature wear, have been reported in a few cases. This might require transmission repairs or replacements.

Electrical System Concerns: Electrical issues, such as problems with the ignition, dashboard electronics, or wiring, have been noted by some owners.

Air Conditioning System: Some users have reported issues with the air conditioning system, such as inadequate cooling or failures in the system's components.

Again, it's important to emphasize that while these issues have been reported, they aren't universal to all 2011 Kia Souls. Regular maintenance and prompt addressing of any problems may have mitigated these potential issues.

Also, Always Know The Value Of Your Trade-In

Whether you are trading or selling on your own, it's just a good idea ... even whether you are in the market or not at the moment. You can then use this important information for a number of purposes ... to negotiate with a dealer, or to know how to price your car in the retail market, or simply to know the value of one of your assets, which is always a good idea.

Getting trade-in values online tend to vary a lot from site to site. But I've found the one at Edmunds Trade-In Quotes is particularly comprehensive and accurate.

It's free and just takes a couple of minutes. I think what helps its accuracy is the inputs will include either your plate# or VIN# followed by many simple, but specific, yes/no questions. It really focuses in on the detail of the specific vehicle.

Lastly, Suggestions For Getting The Lowest Price

First of all, here's a Lowest Price Used Car Buying Guide that details a very effective method.

Here's another method that identifies Price-Distressed Cars Right On Dealer Lots. These are vehicles they are so desperate to unload they would welcome your wholesale offer.

In addition, you can also try the Public Car Auctions in your own geographic area. This article reviews what to expect at open-to-the-public car auctions and how to locate them.

And for those of you who might be interested in a "brand new" Kia Soul if the price was crazy good, here's info on exactly How To Get The Best Price On A New Car. This works just phenomenally well.

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Other Older Models Of Possible Interest:
Older Used Kias
2013 Kia Optima
2012 Kia Optima
2011 Kia Optima
2011 Kia Sorento
2011 Kia Sedona
Older Used Kia Optima
Older Used Kia Rio
Older Used Kia Sedona
Older Used Kia Sorento