2022 Kia Soul

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2021
The Car Connection
2021
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
June 24, 2021

Buying tip

If all-wheel drive is a must-have, skip the Soul and head directly to the Kia Seltos.

features & specs

EX IVT
GT-Line IVT
LX IVT
MPG
28 city / 33 hwy
MPG
28 city / 33 hwy
MPG
28 city / 33 hwy
MSRP
$23,490
MSRP
$22,590
MSRP
$19,190

The 2022 Kia Soul hatchback boasts substance and style in the same sleek package.

What kind of car is the 2022 Kia Soul? What does it compare to?

The Soul’s a roomy five-seat hatchback, though you might see it pitched as a crossover—even though it’s front-wheel-drive only. Stylish, efficient, and affordable, it’s a rival for the Toyota C-HR, Nissan Kicks, and Hyundai Venue.

Is the 2022 Kia Soul a good car?

Review continues below

We give the 2022 Soul a TCC Rating of 6.0 out of 10, with offsetting scores in styling (good) and safety (spotty). (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What’s new for the 2022 Kia Soul?

The manual transmission has been dropped, but base Soul LX hatchbacks get a standard 8.0-inch touchscreen. A Technology package bundles automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, and active lane control for the Soul LX, but it’s not standard. Other models get a 10.3-inch touchscreen, keyless start, and wireless smartphone charging.

Kia sells the Soul in LX, S, EX, and GT-Line trims. All of them walk the line between cute and kitsch, and land on the right side of funky. We like the Soul’s angular, jaunty shape even better than we like its fuss-free, spacious cabin.

Most Souls tap a 2.0-liter inline-4 for 147 hp, and send it frontward through a CVT. So saddled it’s competent at economy-car chores, though hardly fast, and gets up to 31 mpg combined. The 201-hp turbo-4 comes with a wayward 7-speed dual-clutch automatic that judders at low speeds, too much for our liking. The Soul’s cut-above-economy calm ride and meaty steering deserve better than it. 

Five people can fit in the Soul if you need them to. All of them will have good head and leg room; it’s shoulder room that will limit the size of back-seat passengers. With up to 62.1 cubic feet of cargo space, the Soul’s often used (rightly so) as a highly useful two-seater—a Millennial Pack ‘N Play, anecdotally.

In the loss column, the NHTSA gives the Soul four stars for crash protection, and Soul LX hatchbacks don’t come with automatic emergency braking unless you spend more.

How much does the 2022 Kia Soul cost?

The $20,365 Soul LX has power features and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but you’ll have to pay for automatic emergency braking. We’d skip to the $22,665 Soul S, which gets that active safety feature as well as nicer cloth seats, a 10.3-inch touchscreen, and wireless smartphone charging.

Where is the 2022 Kia Soul made?

In South Korea.

8

2022 Kia Soul

Styling

The Soul oozes charm and character.

Is the Kia Soul a good-looking car?

Good looks have been the Kia Soul’s calling card since it was new in the last decade. It’s gradually drifted toward more gratuitous detail, but it’s still a charming car with lots of character. We give it a couple of extra points for the body and one for the cockpit, for an 8 here.

The Soul conceals its economy-car roots with a boxy body and a buzzcut roofline. It shares a nose with other Kias, with thin LED headlights on expensive trims and this year’s new and almost unreadable logo. The chunky add-ons of the former X-Line edition are gone this year; what’s left is a sharply profiled body that piles on lines as it draws toward its conclusion. The strip of black trim on the rear pillars and the myriad cutlines on its tailgate read like clutter compared to the refreshing first-generation Soul—but they’re still eye-catching.

Inside, the Soul has flair, even in the more plasticky base models. It gets better as you spend more, with nicer materials that frame a bigger 10.3-inch touchscreen on all but the LX edition. Max out with synthetic leather upholstery and the Soul feels more expensive than it is. 

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5

2022 Kia Soul

Performance

The Soul’s personality fades in base trims.

Is the Kia Soul 4WD?

No, the Soul’s front-drive only.

How fast is the Kia Soul?

Kia sells the Soul with both turbo and non-turbo engines, and you can readily guess which one gives it a more sparkling personality. No Soul is a chore to drive, but base models are just that: basic. We give it a 5 for performance, right up the middle.

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. Kia has dumped the manual shifter it offered last year. We like this combination better; it doesn’t develop exorbitant power or strain at the front wheels, but it’s good for squirting through traffic in town. On interstates, it’s better to plan uphill passes, and we’d pick the Sport drive mode to give the steering some useful weight to help it stay in its lane, though the steering already feels heavier than that in rival hatchbacks. The Soul rides calmly no matter what, even with the bigger 18-inch wheels on better-equipped models.

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 powertrain sounds great in ads and on spec sheets, but it comes with a caveat: juddery shifting at low speeds. It hesitates when asked to shift at city speeds, and comes off as clunky in stop-and-go traffic. The turbo-4 doesn’t transform its character enough to overlook shift quality.

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6

2022 Kia Soul

Comfort & Quality

The Soul’s trump card is its flexible space.

With a wheelbase of 102.4 inches and a body that’s just 165.2 inches long, the Soul still carves out up to 62.1 cubic feet of space for cargo behind two passengers. It’s almost ruthlessly efficient, and it’s not a bad place to spend a few hours, either. It’s a 6 for comfort and utility, with an extra point for its storage space.

In front, the Soul’s seats have good padding and are surrounded by enough space for most adults. Most versions have manual adjustment, though premium Souls have power seats. The chairs themselves aren’t exceptionally comfortable, but they’re an easy fit for most people.

The back seats have all the room we needed to put a 6-footer behind another 6-footer, and it’s possible to fit three adults across the back for short trips.

The Soul does all that, and still can carry up to 24.2 cubic feet of stuff—or way more with the back seat lowered. It has a high cargo floor, but opens wide and has a flexible cargo shelf. 

We’d expect more of its cabin if it cost more, but for its low-$20,000s price, the Soul has a decent grade of materials in its base version. We prefer the premium cloth in midrange Souls, and the synthetic leather upholstery on pricey versions is the best of all.

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4

2022 Kia Soul

Safety

The Soul earns mixed crash-test scores and lacks standard safety gear.

How safe is the Kia Soul?

The results from the IIHS conflict with those from the NHTSA. We give it a point above the median for its Top Safety Pick award, but deduct two for its four-star NHTSA rating and its lack of automatic emergency braking on the base model. It’s a 4 for safety.

The IIHS scores the Soul as “Good” in all its crash tests, but it awards the Top Safety Pick only to the GT-Line Turbo edition thanks to its LED headlights. Other versions have “Poor” headlights.

The NHTSA’s four-star overall rating includes a four-star score for front passenger protection and a three-star rating for side-pole protection.

Kia equips the Soul with blind-spot monitors, automatic emergency braking, and active lane control on all versions except the LX, where those features cost extra.

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

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7

2022 Kia Soul

Features

Kia’s great warranty and good infotainment propel this Soul score.

Kia sells the 2022 Soul in LX, S, X-Line, EX, and GT-Line trims. All come with an excellent 5-year/60,000-mile warranty, and even base models have a smooth-running infotainment interface. We’d give it a point for value, but the Soul doesn’t come with standard automatic emergency braking in every model; you’ll pay more for it in the LX version. The Soul earns a 7 here.

Base $20,365 Soul LX hatchbacks come with power features, a newly standard 8.0-inch touchscreen, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. But you’ll need to spend more to get the Technology package, which bundles features we think should be standard (and are standard on rival hatchbacks): automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and blind-spot monitors.

Which Kia Soul should I buy?

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.

How much is a fully loaded Kia Soul?

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, at which point we’d think hard about the small Kia crossovers that come with all-wheel drive.

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6

2022 Kia Soul

Fuel Economy

The Soul’s more frugal than it looks.

Is the Kia Soul good on gas?

It’s economical, even without a hybrid edition (and without the former battery-powered Soul EV). We give it a 6 for its most common version, which earns EPA ratings of 28 mpg city, 33 highway, 30 combined. 

Base Souls weigh a little less and have skinnier wheels; they’re slightly more efficient, at 29/35/31 mpg. Turbo-4 Souls make lots more power, but check in at 27/32/29 mpg.

Review continues below
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$19,190
MSRP based on LX IVT
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6.0
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 8
Performance 5
Comfort & Quality 6
Safety 4
Features 7
Fuel Economy 6
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2022 Kia Soul Pricing Insights

  • 2021 Soul is available; 2022s coming soon
  • Lease: $179 per month for 36 months
  • Rebate: Up to $1,750 customer cash
  • Finance: 0.0% APR for 60 months
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