2023 Kia Soul First Look: A Less Distinctive, Turboless Box
For years, the Kia Soul has existed in the gray area between a subcompact hatchback and a subcompact SUV. We consider it the latter (and one of the best you can buy), but changes Kia has implemented for 2023—including the erasure of the rugged-ish-looking X-Line trim level—will, at the very least, surely keep customers guessing. That’s because the Soul veers back toward a more car-like appearance; the look also skews more conventional, with more formal headlights than before, a new front bumper with slimmed-down fog lights, and a redesigned rear bumper and taillights.
This is still the same basic Soul that debuted for 2020, albeit refreshed slightly. Kia also has cut down how many trim levels it’ll offer, reducing the choices to the base LX, S, EX, and GT-Line variants. Gone is the SUV-cosplaying X-Line and the sporty Turbo trim, along with its namesake, a 201-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter I-4 engine and dual-clutch automatic transmission. That means every 2023 Kia Soul comes powered by last year’s entry-level 2.0-liter I-4 making 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque, along with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). As before, only the front wheels receive power, and all-wheel drive is not available.
Changes to the Soul’s interior are minor and mostly limited to a switch from red to whiteish-blue switchgear backlighting and what appears to be a newly available digital gauge cluster, at least on the GT-Line trim. Kia has packed in more standard safety gear, and every Soul now gets forward collision warning, automated emergency braking, lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning, and automatic high beams. An option package can add blind-spot monitoring to that pile on Soul LX variants.
GT-Line Souls are available with a new Technology package that includes heated front seats, a Harman/Kardon audio system, LED speaker lights, LED headlights and taillights, navigation, and Kia’s Highway Drive Assist feature that can handle steering and throttle/braking duties on freeways (with driver supervision, of course). There are also several new paint options, as well as new two-tone paint options.
The Kia Soul’s pricing won’t be announced until closer to its on-sale date, but with the loss of the available turbo engine and consolidation of trim levels, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the model’s pricing envelope shrink. Look for the base price to remain around $20,000, but for loaded GT-Line versions to perhaps come in cheaper than last year’s maxed-out GT-Line Turbo, which started around $29,000. Though the front end now resembles Kia’s sedate Rio subcompact sedan and hatchback a little more than we’d like—remember, the Soul has long traded on its funkiness—its basic appeal remains. This is a well-packaged, affordable small car with a taller-than-usual seating position and pleasant boxiness.
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