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The Kia Soul Is Proof That “Funky” Can Outsell “Normal”

Back in 2010, Kia debuted two compact, front-wheel drive, 4-cylinder cars: A little sedan called the Forte, and a weird-looking, toaster-shaped hatchback called the Soul. Everyone knows the Soul. If you haven’t heard of the Forte, you’re forgiven, but it’s just a little sedan that competes with the Honda Civic and the Toyota Corolla and other compact cars.

What happened next surely surprised me — and, frankly, it probably surprised everyone: The toaster-shaped, weird-looking, outside-the-box hatchback started out-selling the traditional compact sedan.

It didn’t happen in the first year, as the Forte hit 68,500 sales in 2010, while the Soul lagged behind at 67,000. But it’s happened in every single year since, with the Soul beating out the Forte in sales some years, and absolutely crushing it in others. In 2014, for instance, when the Soul was updated, Kia sold an amazing 145,000 units — versus 69,300 units of the Forte sedan. This year, now that the Forte has been updated, its sales are closer to the Soul’s — but, generally speaking, the Soul has reigned supreme.

To me, and to anyone else who’s into “weird” cars, this should be a great thing: Kia gave consumers a choice between two vehicles at two roughly similar price points — the weird one and the normal one — and people spoke with their wallets and chose the weird one. Automakers are usually tremendously scared of taking this sort of “leap” and going against the grain with a car like the Soul. Not only did Kia do it, but they were rewarded for it.

I admit that “weird” won’t necessarily sell at every price point — look, for instance, at the Ferrari FF. But in this case, weirder is more popular. And for us weird car lovers, that’s wonderful to hear.

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  1. I’m not surprised that the Kia Soul is popular. I’m more surprised that they still sell the Kia Forte. The Forte’s marketing has been relatively non-existent compared to the Kia Soul’s hamster marketing campaign.

  2. Kia tapped into the now defunct Scion XB market, another quirky yet practical and cost effective reliable vehicle.  People sometimes need practicality but that doesn’t mean they want boring.  The buying public chose the XB earlier, and it clearly has chosen the Soul these days.  

  3. The 2017 alien green Soul was my first ever brand new car. I loved it so much! When it was totalled by someone texting and driving, I went back and now I have a 2018 alien green Soul. Kia forever, ha ha!

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Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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