When it comes to toaster-shaped vehicles, the Kia Soul reigns supreme, having outlasted the Honda Element, the Nissan Cube, and the Scion xB. Today it competes with more traditionally styled subcompact crossovers, including the Chevrolet Trailblazer, the Jeep Renegade, and the Kia Seltos, but it hasn’t given in to those proportions. It remains a quirky cube. A 147-hp four-cylinder engine comes standard, but Kia offers a powerful 201-hp turbocharged four, which makes the Soul extra perky. The boxy shape provides plenty of room for four adults to cruise in comfort and a suitably large cargo area to hold their gear. If you need all-wheel drive, you’ll have to look elsewhere, as the Soul doesn’t offer it. Nor does it provide standard driver-assistance features.
What’s New for 2022?
The Soul sees few changes for 2022. The old oval-shaped logo is gone, replaced with Kia’s new futuristic one. The 10.3-inch infotainment display with navigation is now offered on all but the base LX model, which gets an 8.0-inch unit (previously 7.0 inches). You can equip the LX model with a Technology package, including automated emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and blind-spot monitoring. S, X-Line, and GT-Line models all provide dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, wireless smartphone charging, and two more USB ports as standard equipment. Unfortunately, the manual transmission has been discontinued.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
We like the X-Line and GT-Line models, which start at the same price and offer two different takes on the Soul’s already quirky appearance. The X has a more rugged look, with black plastic cladding and exclusive Undercover Green paint. The GT-Line is sportier, with its own wheel design and body-color trim plus some bright-red exterior bits. Both come standard with a suite of driver assists that includes automated emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, and rear-cross-traffic alert.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Kia offers two engines in the Soul. The base option is a 147-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which comes paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). At our test track, a Soul X-Line needed a full 8.0 seconds to reach 60 mph, but it doesn’t feel underpowered in normal driving. In fact, the base engine feels peppy around town, and the CVT willingly selects lower gear ratios when you’re looking to pass someone. The top-spec Turbo model comes with a 201-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder and a seven-speed automatic transmission. It snapped off a quick 6.4-second 60-mph time in our hands.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The Soul carries an EPA rating as high as 35 mpg for highway driving and as low as 27 mpg in the city—not bad for a seemingly nonaerodynamic box on wheels. The Nissan Kicks and the Hyundai Venue—its key rivals—offer similar highway numbers, but both outshine the Kia in the city, achieving 31 and 30 mpg, respectively. In our 75-mph fuel-economy test, the turbocharged Soul saw 33 mpg. An X-Line model powered by the base four-cylinder managed 30 mpg. For more information about the Soul’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The Soul’s upright body provides a spacious interior with plenty of room for people and cargo. Kia’s designers have incorporated enough youthful cheekiness inside to match the Soul’s fashion-forward exterior, including textured door-panel inserts and colorful trim. Additional goodies on offer include ambient lighting, a smartphone charging pad, a head-up display, push-button ignition with keyless entry, and heating for the seats and steering wheel. Kia also allows owners a certain amount of customization, with two-tone paint options and a plethora of interior color schemes. In the cargo area, the tall-roofed ute provides enough space for seven carry-on suitcases; with the rear seats folded—it should be noted that they don’t fold completely flat—we were able to fit 20 cases. The Venue, with its smaller hold and tighter rear seat space, managed to fit just four behind the rear seat and 17 with the seats down.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Touchscreen infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability is standard across the board, and all trims but the base model receive a large 10.3-inch display; the LX gets an 8.0-inch unit. Choose a model with the 10.3-incher and you’ll get niceties such as SiriusXM satellite radio, real-time traffic updates, in-dash navigation, and a wireless smartphone charging pad. Most models come with a six-speaker stereo, but a Harman/Kardon setup is standard on the top-spec Turbo model.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Kia doesn’t provide standard driver-assistance technology on the base Soul, but it does for the S model and above. For more information about the Soul’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Available forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
- Available lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Available adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
While Kia has a well-known 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, Hyundai does it one better by offering the same coverage plus three years of included scheduled maintenance.
- Limited warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 10 years or 100,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance