Pope Francis Ditches Fancy Popemobiles, Arrives at Abu Dhabi Palace in Kia Soul

His Holiness continues to show his famously understated taste in cars.

Pope Francis visits UAE
picture alliance—picture alliance via Getty Image

Saint John Paul the Great may have been the most traveled pope in the long history of the job, but one part of the world that he, nor any other pope in modern history has visited until now is the Arabian Peninsula. The United Arab Emirates is a nation often associated with opulent luxury, fabulous supercars, and a generally bourgeois lifestyle, but when Pope Francis rolled up to the presidential palace in Abu Dhabi, he did so with great humility. Taking the cardinal virtue of temperance to the extreme, His Holiness showed up in a humble Kia Soul.

Pope Francis’ rather understated taste in cars has been noted before with the Fiat 500L that he used for getting around the U.S. back in 2015. It was the range-topping Lounge trim, but it still retails in the low- to mid-$20k range, and most definitely an incredible departure from Popemobiles of yore.

Going from a 500L to a Kia Soul is moving even further down-market for Pope Francis. Let’s assume it’s the + trim (yes, the Soul uses punctuation marks for trims) which starts right around the $20k mark in the U.S. That’s a pretty thrifty choice for any world leader.

What would've been a much more appropriate ride for the UAE is the Lamborghini Huracán in Vatican livery that was gifted to Pope Francis, however, it was given with the intention of being auctioned off with the money going to the charities of the Pope’s choice.

The Kia Soul might not be very fancy or fashionable, but it’s cheap and practical, and it seems that's what Pope Francis is going for. In a way, it’s actually pretty exotic because we have a feeling there aren’t a lot of Kia Souls in the UAE.