Having outlasted the Honda Element, Scion xB, and Nissan Cube, the Soul proved Kia could do boxy just as good as anyone else, if not better. The subcompact crossover made famous by hamsters has come into its own since it debuted in 2008. It's the least expensive way to get into one of the Korean brand's SUVs and comes in six different trims including the off-road inspired Soul X-Line and hot-hatch-aping Soul Turbo.
The Kia Soul's look—or rather, it's shape—has always been polarizing, but the much evolved third-generation model is almost a different machine than the original model. It's always had lots of interior space both for passengers and cargo, but the 2022 Kia Soul also provides a much improved ride quality over the second-gen model. The car is poised in corners and over uneven surfaces, steering is accurate, and while it's not the most powerful subcompact SUV, it doesn't feel underpowered. The Soul's brakes have good bite and fade resistance, and its active safety features work with commendable polish.
Although not fancy, the Soul's cabin is simple, clean, and comfortable. It effectively kept out road noise until we moved up to 18-inch wheels and even then, it wasn't terrible. We also appreciated the Soul's seamless smartphone integration.
We lived with a 2020 Soul for a year and found it to be an ideal daily driver and errand runner. It's not winning any drag races, but there's a reason the model is one of our top-ranked subcompact SUVs, despite its lack of AWD availability. The Kia's practicality, driving dynamics, and affordability are solid, even if we don't know what to make of its boxy exterior.
Most of the Soul lineup relies on a 147-hp naturally aspirated 2.0-liter inline-four engine, the exception being the Soul Turbo. That top trim gets a 201-hp 1.6-liter turbocharged I-4. The same trims that employ the naturally aspirated engine also get a CVT while the Turbo uses a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. All grades use FWD, as Kia still doesn't offer an AWD option.
Fuel economy for the 2022 Soul is identical to last year's version, 28-29/33-35 mpg city/highway for models with the naturally aspirated I-4 and CVT and 27/32 mpg for those with the turbo-four and automatic. Ratings for the Soul's naturally aspirated I-4 have an edge over the 2021 Toyota C-HR and its non-turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which was rated at 27/31 mpg.
In X-Line trim, the 2022 Soul looks like it's ready to leave the pavement behind even if it's not necessarily equipped to do so. The grade doesn't receive any additional capability like extra ground clearance, the stouter turbo engine, or AWD, but it does receive a host of cosmetic upgrades like body cladding, X-Line-exclusive 18-inch wheels, and satin silver exterior accents. The trim also gets fog lights, roof rails, and mud guards. And with the third-gen's wraparound headlights, squint a little and the Soul X-Line starts to look a little like a Range Rover Evoque.
The 2022 Soul received a four-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA while the IIHS has yet to publish ratings for the 2022 model. The previous model year Soul was named a 2021 Top Safety Pick by the IIHS, earning primarily Good scores in most categories except for headlights. Trims equipped with either halogen reflector or halogen projector headlights got Poor scores.
Kia calls its suite of active safety technologies Drive Wise and on the base trim Soul LX those features are available only through the optional Technology package. Starting with the X-Line trim, the Soul gets automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic monitoring, lane departure warning, and a driver focus monitor. The range-topping Soul Turbo additionally receives adaptive cruise control, a feature Kia doesn't make available on lower trims.
Boxiness has its advantages. Consumers may be split on the attractiveness of the Soul's shape, but the design is good for interior space. Against the sleeker Toyota C-HR, the Soul offers more rear passenger legroom and gobs more cargo space.
Cargo space (behind first/second rows):
2022 Soul: 62.1/24.2 cubic feet
2021 C-HR: 37.0/19.1 cubic feet
Legroom (first/second rows):
2022 Soul: 41.1/38.8 inches
2021 C-HR: 43.5/31.7 inches
The Soul is Kia's least expensive crossover and comes appropriately outfitted with features such as keyless entry and an infotainment system with an 8.0-inch touchscreen, six speakers, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. The adventure-seeking Soul X-Line adds a pushbutton start, wireless device charging, a dual-zone climate control system, and its infotainment system is upgraded with a 10.3-inch touchscreen and navigation.
The Soul S and EX get an eight-way power adjustable driver seat and the EX further receives a sunroof and heated front seats. At the top of the trim lineup, the Soul Turbo is equipped with LED headlights, 10-way power-adjustable driver seat, heated steering wheel, and supplemental Harman Kardon center speaker, subwoofer, and amplifier for the infotainment system.
The 2022 Soul is available with six trims this year: LX, S, GT-Line, X-Line, EX, and Turbo. We think the EX trim is the best as it combines convenience features like wireless smartphone charging and dual-zone climate control with niceties like the larger infotainment touchscreen and sunroof. Plus, it's about $4,000 less than the top-grade Turbo model. The 2022 Soul EX stickers for around $25,000.
|$0||0.9% Financing available for varying term lengths : 36, 48, 60 Months - Kia announces special APR Financing on select models.||01-31-2022|
|$0||1.9% Financing for a maximum term of 66 Months - Kia announces special APR Financing on select models.||01-31-2022|
|$0||2.9% Financing for a maximum term of 72 Months - Kia announces special APR Financing on select models.||01-31-2022|
|$0||3.9% Financing available for varying term lengths : 75, 84 Months - Kia announces special APR Financing on select models.||01-31-2022|
|$400||Kia announces a Bonus Cash on select models for eligible military personnel.||01-31-2022|
|$750||Kia announces Customer Cash on select models.||01-31-2022|