Either you love it, or you’re wrong.
The funky little Kia Soul has been one of the most recognizable cars on the road since a group of Rodents of Unusual Size first drove one across TV screens in 2009.
Some love it because it makes the maximum possible use of space in a small car platform and brings some style to a small car segment that is usually shorthand for boring and mundane. Some hate it because, no, that’s not a free parking space between those two midsize SUVs. There’s a Soul in there.
But all can agree that it’s time for an update. Kia knows. They’ll get us all a brand new Soul for 2023.
Pricing hasn’t been announced, but we don’t think there’s much room for Kia to raise prices from 2022’s starting point — $19,290 plus a $1,255 delivery fee. The 2023 Kia Soul is set to arrive this summer.
First, the bad news. Kia has dropped the turbocharged engine option from the lineup.
That leaves the Soulless with just one option on the dealership lot: the same 147-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder as the 2022 model. It’s fine. The turbo made the Soul a lot more fun, but the other option is…it’s fine.
A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is the only option since Kia dropped the stick from the car last year.
The X-Line styling treatment also disappears. It attempted to make the Soul look a bit tougher and seems to have sold poorly, as that’s a fundamental misunderstanding of who buys these things.
Body and Soul
The Soul’s body is getting an update, though. Reshaped headlights and a new front bumper make it look almost a little angry. Poor little dude. Changes are more dramatic out back, where a reshaped rear fascia makes the liftgate seem to lean back a bit.
Two new 2-tone paint schemes arrive. Clear White with a black roof looks like special editions of Souls past, but Surf Blue with a black roof is something new.
Inside, the base LX trim keeps the same 8-inch touchscreen as the 2022 model. But S, EX, GT-Line, and GT-Line Tech trims get a more impressive 10.25-inch display. GT-Line Tech models also add Kia’s Highway Drive Assist technology, with lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control.
Losing Our Souls?
It’s often a bad sign for a model’s future when an automaker starts to reduce the choices buyers can make. The Soul doesn’t sell like it once did and, in the past two years, has gone from two engines and two transmissions to just one of each. The formerly available Soul electric vehicle (EV) also has yet to make a return.
We’ve reached out to Kia to ask if we should read anything into that. We’ll let you know if they respond.
The Soul was once the styling heart of the Kia brand. But, today, Kia is known more for its wildly successful Telluride midsize SUV (our Best Buy Award winner in its segment three years running). Its advertisements mostly feature the gorgeous EV6 electric hatchback. Its all-new Sportage compact SUV is one of the most impressive new entries we’ve tested this year, and while it looks stylish in its own way, it lacks the funk the Soul brought on its first arrival.
The Soul’s signature style isn’t completely lost on the rest of the lineup. The upcoming EV9 electric SUV is, arguably, a Soul stretched to big SUV proportions and given a few shakes of hot sauce.