The Kia Soul is a fun and affordable compact vehicle with many great features that will appeal to a wide audience.
What is it?
The Kia Soul is a segment bender. It has many of the best attributes of a five-door hatchback car, and some of the things we love about compact crossovers. Since no AWD option is available, the Soul is a car in our book.
Pricing and trims
The Soul is available in six different trims. The content available varies widely and we encourage shoppers to look closely at what the trim they select offers. Prices start at about $19K and the first five trims run up to about $23K. One trim, the GT-Line Turbo, can cost as much as $30K, and there is also an EV Soul that we are not including in our overview.
Our tester was good-looking and moderately equipped X-Line Soul with an as-tested price of $22,615 including destination.
The Kia Soul has had relatively good safety scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The 2019 Soul is an IIHS Top Safety Pick, but it did not earn the highest score on every crash test, something most new cars do. The headlights also varied from Good to Poor in their rankings. For 2020, the Soul rides on a new platform with increased use of high-strength steel. We will be watching to see if the new Soul earns the highest scores from IIHS, We suspect that it will
One unfortunate safety note is that not all models of the Soul have forward collision prevention with automatic emergency braking. Many of the Soul’s competitors, such as the Corolla Hatchback from Toyota make this important equipment standard. Our X-Line tester did not have the system. However, two less expensive trims do have the basic emergency auto braking system Kia offers. We would advise any shopper to carefully consider a trim with the technology. Our tester did have Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
The Kia Soul line offers two engine options. The 2.0-liter engine with 147 hp is found in all five of the Soul trims below the very pricey one. It is adequate, but Sport Mode is needed for the vehicle to feel responsive. We love the 1.6-liter turbo in the top-trim, but it is very pricey. Our X-Line had the CVT transmission, which we felt was a good match for the vehicle and its mission. Kia also offers a manual six-speed and the top-trim has a 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission.
The most fun Soul will likely be the EV. We LOVED the prior generation Soul EV and the new one will be much improved. Those looking for a sporty Soul need to look at the GT-LineTurbo, but at that price point, there are many great vehicles, and in particular, we like the Hyundai Elantra GT-Sport, which has a similar drivetrain, but more space.
Ride and handling
One of the Soul’s best features is its fun to drive nature. It is great in the city and around town, yet also good on the highway for a small vehicle. The Soul steers very nicely and placing it where you want in in crowded conditions is a snap. Bumps are not jarring and we feel the Soul X-Line has a great ride for its price point.
The cloth, manually-adjusted seats in our test vehicle were comfortable but had no lumbar support. At this price point seats of this type are typical.
The rear seat is roomier than one might expect and the rear seats fold 60-40.
The Kia Soul has a roomy trunk for its size with 24.2 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats. Under the cargo floor is a spare tire. With the rear seats folded, that cargo volume expands to a generous 62.1 cubic feet. Both of these volumes are larger than the Hyundai Kona crossover (19.2, 45.8 cu ft).
Infotainment and controls
Every trim of the Kia Soul comes standard with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You won’t find that combination in any Toyota Corolla. We loved the size, operation, and clarity of the large touch-screen infotainment screen. Nobody does infotainment better than Kia.
The Kia Soul is a fun and very affordable car with a surprising amount of usable space. We can see how everyone from a recent graduate to a retired couple might love the many features the Soul line has to offer. The top trim may also be a great pocket rocket for the right person. We would recommend the Kia Soul to many different shoppers, but we also suggest that those considering the Soul look carefully at the content of the exact one they are considering.