The 2022 Kia Soul offers a unique take on the compact crossover. Where others tend to blend in, the Soul asserts itself with bold styling and an engaging spirit. Even with the base 2.0-liter four cylinder, the Soul feels lively, and it positively hustles with the optional 201-horsepower turbocharged engine. It’s also remarkably roomy for a compact. Despite being Kia’s smallest crossover — it’s about 7 inches shorter than the Kia Seltos — the Soul’s upright dimensions enable it to carry four adults in comfort. Plus it can swallow Costco-sized loads with a large tailgate opening and far more cargo space than the Hyundai Venue, a key competitor. Starting just over $20K, the Soul offers excellent value.
All trims but the base LX come standard with goodies such as a 10.25-inch infotainment screen, navigation with real-time traffic, and a suite of driver assistance tech. Though the similarly-sized Nissan Kicks beats the Soul on interior quality, it also costs more and isn’t as enjoyable to drive. That makes the 2022 Soul tough to beat in this segment.
Here’s what’s new for 2022. Its second year since a major redesign, the Kia Soul continues for 2022 with minor updates. The S, X-Line, and GT-Line trims now have a larger 10.25-inch navigation screen, as well as dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, and wireless smartphone charging. The base LX also gets a larger 8-inch infotainment screen, plus an available Technology package, with 16-inch alloy wheels and a bundle of driver aids, including a blind-spot warning system and lane-keeping assist. Finally, a manual transmission is no longer available.
Trims and Pricing: The 2022 Kia Soul is offered in six trim levels: LX, S, X-Line, GT-Line, EX, and Turbo. All but the Turbo come with a 147-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine driving the front wheels via a continuously-variable automatic transmission. The Turbo provides a high-performance 1.6-liter turbocharged engine paired with a seven-speed automatic. The S is the most popular trim and our pick for best value. We’ll explain why.
Starting at 20,365 (including a $1,175 destination fee), the LX has 16-inch steel wheels, cloth seats, air conditioning, and an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, and a six-speaker audio system. It also includes a backup camera, automatic headlights, variable intermittent windshield wipers, an intermittent rear wiper, power side mirrors, cloth upholstery, a 60/40 split-folding back seat, and adaptive steering.
Priced at $22,665, the S comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, premium cloth seats, a 10-way power driver’s seat with two-way power lumbar, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, wireless smartphone charging, two USB ports, and a 10.25-inch display screen with navigation. It also gets a suite of safety features, including forward-collision avoidance, lane-keeping assist, lane-change assist, driver attention warning, blind-spot collision warning, and rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist. We recommend this trim for the addition of all those safety features.
The X-Line is priced from $23,765 and provides 18-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, fog lights, and a leather D-shaped steering wheel. The X-Line also gets an exclusive body kit and roof rails, silver side mirrors, and woven cloth upholstery. However, it removes the upgraded seat fabric and power seats.
Also priced at $23,765, the GT-Line adds a unique grille with distinctive front and rear fascias, a sunroof with a power sunshade, a two-level cargo shelf, premium cloth seats, and a 12-volt power outlet in the cargo area.
The EX ($24,665) has 17-inch alloy wheels, remote starting, heated outside mirrors, a cargo cover, a 10-way power driver’s seat with two-way power lumbar, and heated front seats.
The Turbo is the most expensive Soul model at $28,965. It’s equipped with a 201-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, a sport-tuned suspension, 18-inch alloys, LED headlights, a chrome-tipped center exhaust, unique seat trim, a 10-way power driver’s seat, a heated steering wheel, a Harman Kardon audio system with subwoofer and speaker lights, forward-collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, smart cruise control, and a head-up display.
The Nissan Kicks starts at a higher price but offers more extensive standard safety features on the base trim. The Hyundai Venue also presents a greater number of standard safety features over its narrow three-trim lineup. There’s also the Jeep Renegade, which delivers off-road capability in a wide range of trims.
The base 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 147 horsepower is paired to a surprisingly responsive CVT and doesn’t produce excessive noise. With far more spirit than the Nissan Kicks or Hyundai Venue, the 2.0-liter-equipped Soul merges effortlessly into highway traffic. Handling is crisp, almost sporty, despite the Soul’s boxy styling.
The Turbo trim is motivated by a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 201 hp. It’s paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic that doesn’t shift as smoothly as expected. However, it is quick off the line, making this the model for performance-oriented drivers.
The Soul’s ride is smooth overall, with only the worst bumps and dips jarring passengers. Imperfect pavement goes unnoticed. Road noise is modest, but wind noise is intrusive at highway speeds. With its compact dimensions, the Soul is a breeze to park, even in tight spots.
The Kia Soul earns an Environmental Protection Agency estimate of 25 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway with the manual transmission. The fuel economy improves with the automatic to 28 /33 mpg city/highway. The turbocharged engine sits in the middle with 27/32 mpg in the city/highway. The fuel economy is comparable to the Nissan Kicks and Hyundai Venue in highway driving but falls short in city driving.
The Soul’s cabin earns good marks for its comfort but not for its quality. Materials look and feel cheap, even in top trims. It is roomy for five adults, though. The Soul’s squared-off shape makes it great for taller passengers who will have no problem with headroom, even in the rear seats. Those same passengers would also be comfortable in the Jeep Renegade but might find headroom short in both the Nissan Kicks and Hyundai Venue. The Soul’s cargo room is good for its class with 24.2 cubic feet behind the rear seats, expanding to 62.1 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down. All this space makes the Soul an excellent choice for young singles who may be doing lots of moving back and forth to college or new apartments. The tailgate opening is also wide, facilitating the loading and unloading of boxes and gear.
The Kia Soul’s base infotainment includes an 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a six-speaker audio system. Its clear menus are intuitive, and both driver and passenger can easily see the screen. Higher trims provide a larger 10.25-inch screen, while the top-of-the-line Turbo also features a premium Harman Kardon audio system with speaker lights. The Hyundai Venue offers a standard 8-inch infotainment screen with no available premium audio. The Nissan Kicks has either a 7-inch or 8-inch touchscreen with a Bose audio system.
In a world of bland crossovers, the 2022 Kia Soul stands out with its boxy shape, appealing personality, and roomy interior. It’s also a strong performer, especially when equipped with the available turbocharged engine.