The Kia Soul has a lot going for it. It's a great value for a quality subcompact SUV and has a great rating for reliability. But is it ready to break free of the pavement and go off-road? We've investigated this question, and here's what you need to know.
The Kia Soul can handle very light, well-maintained off-roading trails. However, it lacks critical features to handle more challenging terrain. For heavy-duty off-roading, you'll want to stick with a vehicle made with off-roading in mind.
We'll take a more in-depth look at this question and cover some of the key questions when it comes to choosing an off-roader. We'll also look at other Kia offerings and how to find appropriate trails for the Soul. Read on to learn all about it!
Off-roading in the Kia Soul
The Kia Soul is a subcompact SUV that is great for city driving. It has loads of space for passengers and cargo in a stylish but rugged design. However, it might not be the best choice for going off the road.
For a serious off-road vehicle, you'll want four-wheel drive and plenty of ground clearance. The Soul falls short in these areas in particular.
However, the Kia Soul can handle some very light off-roading on well-maintained trails. Finding these trails can be a challenge for the uninitiated, but we'll cover that in more detail below.
Is the Kia Soul Available in 4x4?
When you are looking to go off-road, you'll want to consider your vehicle's powertrain. The best off-road option is a four-wheel-drive powertrain, also known as a 4x4. With four-wheel drive, the engine sends power to all four wheels, allowing for the most traction on difficult terrains like loose dirt, sand, or snow.
Currently, Kia doesn't offer any four-wheel-drive vehicles. They do make some vehicles with the next best option, all-wheel drive, which sends power to the rear wheels when sensors detect a loss of traction.
Unfortunately, the Kia Soul is not currently available with either four- or all-wheel drive power trains. All powertrain options for the Soul are front-wheel drive, which greatly limits its off-roading abilities. The Soul FWD can handle light off-road trails, but challenging terrains are best left to better-equipped vehicles.
Is the Kia Soul X-Line Good for Offroading?
The Kia Soul is available in several trim levels. The Soul X-Line is billed as their "off-road inspired" Soul. While the X-Line may be inspired by off-road vehicles, this inspiration is largely cosmetic.
The 18-inch alloy wheels exclusive to the X-Line look sharp and are an improvement on the LX's steel tires, but the smart finish would fade quickly with any heavy-duty off-roading. Furthermore, the sport-tuned suspensions could leave you feeling the road a little too much for any off-road adventures.
Most importantly, though, the X-Line has the same drivetrain options as the other Soul trim levels, meaning front-wheel drive only. While the X-Line looks sharp and has an off-road-inspired aesthetic, it doesn't outperform the other Soul trim levels for real off-roading.
Is the Kia Soul Good in Snow?
While four- and all-wheel drives are often preferred for driving in snow, the Kia Soul handles surprisingly well in light snow.
This owes in part to the Soul's 6.7 inches of ground clearance. While on the lower end for a crossover, this ground clearance is on the high end for a car. It helps with light snow, but snow more than five inches deep could prove problematic for your Soul.
However, if you want to get the best performance on the snow, it is important to use properly maintained snow tires when conditions demand them. If you live in a climate that gets heavy snow regularly, you may want to opt for a vehicle with four- or all-wheel drive instead.
You can see a review of the Kia Soul X-Line's snow performance that also looks at other features in this video from TFLNow.
To learn more about Kia vehicles' performance in the snow, check out our article, "How Good Is Kia Sportage in Snow?"
How much Ground Clearance does a Kia Soul have?
The Kia Soul has a ground clearance of 6.7 inches. While this is more than what most cars offer, it is on the low end for a crossover SUV and quite low for off-road driving.
In general, it is best to aim for nine inches or more ground clearance for off-roading. Many vital components are exposed on the undercarriage of your vehicle, and these are prone to damage from obstacles and debris when off-roading with inadequate ground clearance.
Does Kia Make an Off-Road Vehicle?
While the Soul might not be an ideal off-road vehicle, you might wonder if there are any great off-roaders from the Korean manufacturer available or in the works.
At present, Kia doesn't design any of its models with off-roading in mind. That doesn't mean that they don't have some more trail-ready vehicles.
The most popular choice for off-road driving with a Kia is the Telluride. This mid-size SUV comes with an all-wheel-drive powertrain, which helps keep you moving on more challenging terrains. It also has 8 inches of ground clearance, sneaking in a little more space than the Soul.
While the Kia Telluride is more capable of off-road adventures than the Soul, it is best to keep both vehicles away from challenging trails and terrains.
You can learn more about the Telluride in our article, "How Much is a Fully Loaded Kia Telluride?"
How to Find Light Off-Road Trails
While your Kia isn't built for heavy-duty off-roading, that doesn't mean there aren't great options to enjoy a little adventure. The secret is finding the right trails.
While paper maps and word-of-mouth were the secrets to finding great off-road outings in the past, today, there are more convenient ways to find trails at various difficulty levels.
One of your best options, whether you're a seasoned off-roader looking for something new or just getting started, is to use apps and websites.
One of the most popular and essential apps for off-road aficionados, Gaia GPS is a great way to find public land and off-road trails. You can plan routes and set waypoints, as well as add useful layers to their GPS maps.
Some useful layers include the US Forestry Service's layers for trails in national parks and motor vehicle use and even topological maps from the US Geological Survey.
Gaia GPS has a bit of a learning curve, so it's best to spend some time with it before heading out on an expedition for the first time. You can check out the video below from Lifestyle Overland to get a head start.
Another great choice for finding off-road trails is the onX Offroad app. It includes thousands of off-road trails as well as detailed information about recreation points like campsites and boat launches.
One great feature is that it includes technical ratings for all of the trails it covers. If you are out in your Soul, you'll want to stick to the lowest-rated trails, but you'd be surprised how many options there are.
As you get more experience and fall in love with off-roading, you may want to invest in a specialized off-road vehicle to take on those trails with intermediate or even advanced ratings.
The onX Offroad app is a little more intuitive than Gaia GPS, but it still helps to get a rundown first. Learn more about it in the video from onX themselves below.
A great website to find trails near you is TrailsOffroad.com. They provide detailed information on off-road trails by state.
It's free to create an account that lets you search trails and get directions to trailheads, campsites, and other features. However, to get the full scoop and even more functionality, you'll need a paid membership. Membership costs just $25 a year, so it can be well worth the investment.
While TrailsOffroad.com started off as a website, they recently launched an app for iOS systems as well. You can learn more about the app in the video below.
While the Kia Soul might not be the ideal offroad vehicle, that doesn't mean you can't seek out some adventure. Understanding the limitations of your vehicle and having the right resources to find appropriate trails for it can help you get started on an off-road excursion.
Now that you know more about off-roading and the Kia Soul, you'll be ready to make the right decision for yourself. Take our advice on your own road to adventure.