Forget the hamsters—the 2024 Kia Soul is an attractive and distinctive option among today’s crop of subcompact SUVs. Its boxy styling is extroverted and its interior offers whimsical touches, but the Soul oozes practicality thanks to a spacious cabin that’s roomier than you’d expect given the car’s small footprint. The Soul also offers an impressive amount of features for the money given that it’s less expensive than many rivals including the Chevrolet Trailblazer, the Jeep Renegade, and the Kia Seltos. There’s only one powertrain on offer—a 147-hp four-cylinder engine with a continuously variable automatic transmission and front-wheel drive—but the Soul is still good to drive thanks to its comfortable ride and refined demeanor.
What’s New for 2024?
A new EX Designer package joins the lineup and offers 18-inch wheels and different interior trimmings. Kia also says that the optional smart key now goes into a sleep mode 40 seconds after locking the vehicle so that thieves can’t duplicate the key’s frequency.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
We like the GT-Line model, which offers a different take on the Soul’s quirky appearance. It looks sportier than its stablemates, with its own wheel design and body-color trim. It comes standard with driver-assistance features including automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, and rear cross-traffic alert.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The only engine is a 147-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which comes paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and front-wheel drive. At the test track, our test vehicle needed 8.0 seconds to reach 60 mph, which is behind many rivals. But the Soul feels peppy around town, and the CVT willingly selects lower gear ratios when you’re looking to pass someone. Handling isn’t particularly sharp, but the Soul’s mission isn’t to carve corners like a sports car. Most buyers will find the Soul to offer a comfortable ride with just enough driving character to avoid being bland.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The Soul carries an EPA rating as high as 35 mpg for highway driving and as low as 27 mpg in the city—not bad for a seemingly non-aerodynamic box on wheels. The Nissan Kicks and the Hyundai Venue—its key rivals—offer similar highway numbers, but both outshine the Kia in the city, achieving 31 and 30 mpg, respectively. In our 75-mph fuel-economy test, the Soul managed 30 mpg. For more information about the Soul’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The Soul’s upright body provides a spacious interior with plenty of room for people and cargo. Kia designers have incorporated enough youthful cheekiness inside to match the Soul’s fashion-forward exterior, including textured door-panel inserts and colorful trim. Additional goodies on offer include ambient lighting, a smartphone charging pad, a head-up display, push-button ignition with keyless entry, and heating for the seats and steering wheel. Kia also allows owners a certain amount of customization, with two-tone paint options and a plethora of interior color schemes. In the cargo area, the tall-roofed Soul provides enough space for seven carry-on suitcases; with the rear seats folded—it should be noted that they don’t fold completely flat—we were able to fit 20 cases. The Venue, with its smaller hold and tighter rear seat space, managed to fit just four behind the rear seat and 17 with the seats down.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Touchscreen infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability is standard across the board, and all trims but the base model receive a large 10.3-inch display; the LX gets an 8.0-inch unit. Choose a model with the 10.3-incher and you’ll get niceties such as SiriusXM satellite radio, real-time traffic updates, in-dash navigation, and a wireless smartphone charging pad. Most models come with a six-speaker stereo, but a Harman/Kardon setup is optional on the GT-Line model.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Kia provides a few standard driver-assistance features on the base Soul, but there’s more available on the S model and above. For more information about the Soul’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard forward-collision warning with automated emergency braking
- Standard lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist
- Available blind-spot monitoring and automatic high-beam headlamps
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
While Kia has a well-known 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, Hyundai does it one better by offering the same coverage plus three years of included scheduled maintenance.
- Limited warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 10 years or 100,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance
2020 Kia Soul X-Line
front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback
PRICE AS TESTED
$22,615 (base price: $22,485)
DOHC 16-valve Atkinson-cycle inline-4, aluminum block and head, port fuel injection
122 cu in, 1999 cc
147 hp @ 6200 rpm
132 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm
continuously variable automatic with manual shifting mode
Suspension (F/R): struts/torsion beam
Brakes (F/R): 11.0-in vented disc/10.3-in disc
Tires: Hankook Ventus S1 Noble2, 235/45R-18 94V M+S
Wheelbase: 102.4 in
Length: 165.2 in
Width: 70.9 in
Height: 63.0 in
Passenger volume: 101 cu ft
Cargo volume: 24 cu ft
Curb weight: 2965 lb
Zero to 60 mph: 8.0 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 24.7 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 8.2 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 4.2 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 5.4 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 16.4 sec @ 86 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 120 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 161 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.91 g
Observed: 24 mpg
75-mph highway driving: 30 mpg
Highway range: 420 miles
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 30/27/33 mpg
DOWNLOAD TEST SHEET
More Features and Specs