The small vehicle market in the U.S. is demanding. Buyers expect good looks, impressive technology and top-line safety features at a lower price point than their bigger siblings.
At least one automaker is listening — if the 2023 Kia Soul is any indication.
The subcompact more famous for being piloted by hamsters than people at one time is still one of the South Korean automaker’s better sellers because it offers an interest package at a compelling price and, to that end, it appears little has changed for the 2023 model.
“The Soul defined a whole new segment of small cars when it first entered the Kia lineup and it continues into the 2023 model year with as much fun, practicality and style as ever,” said Steve Center, COO & EVP, Kia America, in a statement.
“The basic form remains, which is what more than 75,000 happy Soul owners loved so much about the funky runabout last year, representing a nearly 5 percent increase over sales in 2020. The new 2023 Soul is set to continue that trend with its refreshed design inside and out, advanced technology and feature-packed trims.”
Everybody’s crazy about a sharp-dressed …
The brand’s designers clearly know the biggest impact comes from changing the front and rear of any vehicle because that’s exactly what they’ve done on the new Soul. It gets an updated grille with new LED headlights and fog lights.
They’ve also updated the daytime running lights and turn signal sticking to the vehicle’s functional look, but by making the headlights bigger with a half-diamond shape, the front end looks sleeker and more aggressive. That treatment carries over to the little crossover’s rear fascia as well. The result is a car that looks lower and more athletic, but not stocky.
The Soul comes with an option of 17- or 18-inch alloy wheels and a slew of either solid or two-tone color schemes, including two new ones: Clear White with a Fusion Black roof or Surf Blue with the same Fusion Black roof (the pairing in the pictures accompanying this story).
What kind of wheels and colors you select will likely depend upon the trim level you choose, which has been simplified for 2023, according to the company. For the new model year, it will be offered in LX, S, EX, GT-Line, GT-Line Tech trimlines, gone are the X-Line and Turbo models. (For those who hadn’t checked in on the little Soul for a few years, the EV model got the Ziggy for the 2019 model year.) So it’s down from seven trim levels to five … yes, simpler.
It’s what’s on the inside …
Officials say for the interior, the company kept what worked and ditched the rest. The result is an attractive and simple cabin where all controls are within easy reach and are also easy to see. The technology package really starts with the 10.25-inch touchscreen, which is standards on all trim levels, except the base LX.
The safety tech baselines with the LX Technology Package, which includes Blind Spot Collision Avoidance (BCA), Rear Cross-Collision Avoidance (RCCA) plus 16-inch alloy wheels. Available technology includes Forward Collision Avoidance Assist-Pedestrian, Lane Keeping Assist + Lane Following Assist, Driver Attention Warning, Lane-Departure Warning, High Beam Assist and Rear Occupant Alert.
The fun technology starts with a Harman/Kardon premium audio system with multi-colored LED speaker lights that keep time with the music played as well as head front seats, helpful in cooler climes.
You can any engine you want, as long as it’s …
For 2023, Soul is powered by a single powertrain. The efficient 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder produces 147 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and lays down 132 pound-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm through the front wheels. Kia’s Intelligent Variable Transmission is standard across all variants.
As for pricing, well that’s going to have to wait a bit as Kia hasn’t released any of that information. However, the 2022 LX starts at $19,290 plus the $1,255 destination fee. The highest priced model was the now defunct Turbo, which started at $27,890 plus fees.