2022 Kia Soul

By November 3, 2021

The Kia Soul, a front-wheel-drive five-seat hatchback, is stylish, fuel efficient, roomy inside, bursting with character, and, for all that, affordable.

For 2022 it loses a little bit of character, as the manual transmission has been dropped, but it gains some tech, as the base Soul LX gets a standard 8.0-inch touchscreen. Other models get a 10.3-inch touchscreen, keyless start, and wireless smartphone charging.

The base engine is a 2.0-liter inline-4 making 147 horsepower, mated to a CVT. It’s not fast but it’s quick enough around town, while delivering 31 mpg. There’s also a 201-hp turbo-4 mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission that’s not as smooth as the CVT.

The Soul’s most pleasant use might be as a mini cargo van with windows. With the rear seats down there’s more than 62 cubic feet of cargo space.

The EPA rates the Soul at 29/35/31 mpg. The turbo makes more power but loses 2 mpg.

The IIHS scores the Soul as “Good” in all its crash tests, and gives a Top Safety Pick to the GT-Line Turbo thanks to its LED headlights. The IIHS rates the headlines on the other models as “Poor.” The NHTSA only gives it four stars overall, because automatic emergency braking isn’t standard on the LX. In crash tests, it gets four stars for front passenger protection, with three stars for side-pole protection.

Model Lineup

Made in South Korea, the Kia Soul comes in four models: LX, S, EX, and GT-Line.

The $20,365 Soul LX has power features and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with automatic emergency braking (with blind-spot monitors and active lane control) available in the Technology package, new for 2022.

For $22,665, the Soul S offers those active safety features, upgraded cloth upholstery, 17-inch wheels, a 10.3-inch touchscreen, wireless smartphone charging, and keyless start. It’s a lot of car for the price.

The Soul GT-Line Turbo has the turbo engine, synthetic leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, light-up speakers, and a head-up display. It costs $28,965, and for that money you can get a Kia Sportage crossover with all-wheel drive.

All Souls come with an excellent 5-year/60,000-mile warranty,

Exterior

Good looks have followed the Kia Soul since its introduction a decade ago. It’s angular and jaunty, with a boxy body and a buzzcut roofline. It’s a charming car with lots of character.

It shares a nose with other Kias, with thin LED headlights on expensive trims. The sharply profiled body piles on lines that move rearward. The rear pillars are black. The many cutlines on the vertical liftgate are eye-catching, but they read like clutter compared to the cleanliness of the original Soul.

Interior

Inside, the Soul has flair, even in the base LX with plastic. There are nicer materials and a 10.3-inch touchscreen on every other model. The fabric upholstery is rugged. The available synthetic leather feels more expensive than it is.

It’s a small car, with a wheelbase of 102.4 inches and a body that’s just 165.2 inches long, but its shape provides an amazing 62.1 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seat folded.

The front seats have good padding, are an easy fit for most people, and are surrounded by space. Upper models have power adjustment.

In the rear, we seated a 6-footer behind another 6-footer in the front, no problem. Three adults in the rear seat will be okay for a short trip.

Even using the rear seat, there’s still 24.2 cubic feet of cargo space in back. The high cargo floor opens wide and has a flexible cargo shelf.

Outward vision is OK, but the thick rear roof pillars pose a challenge.

Driving Impressions

With 147 hp, the base 2.0-liter inline-4 makes 132 lb-ft of torque and sends it to the front wheels through a CVT. The power is modest but sufficient to squirt through traffic and run with the flow of traffic on the freeway.

The 201-hp 1.6-liter turbo-4 in the top GT-Line Soul comes with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic that sends its 195 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels. The 7-speed hesitates and sometimes shudders when it shifts at low speeds, and comes off as clunky in stop-and-go traffic.

Upper models have drive modes, and we found that in Sport mode the steering gains heft, and that helps the Soul stay steady. But even without Sport mode, the steering on all models feels heavier than in rival hatchbacks.

The ride is calm no matter what, even with the bigger 18-inch wheels.

Final Word

The 2022 Kia Soul can’t be beat for its price. It has personality, cargo space, fuel economy, comfort, and a sporty flair. Rule out the bottom LX and top GT-Line Turbo models, to get the most Soulful value.

 

—by Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection

You must be logged in to post a comment Login