Cheap, high-value cars will always have a place in the USA, and one of the most established names in the budget crossover segment is the 2024 Kia Soul. In terms of practicality, safety, and economy, it is an extremely compelling compact crossover, but it's not the only one; the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-30 present stiff competition, although they are both significantly more expensive. In exchange for a $10k discount, the Soul asks you to settle for a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with just 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque, but it does give you a decent list of standard features and a world-class warranty that ensures your money works for you. But with more for less becoming the norm, does the Kia Soul still do enough to keep up with the pack leaders?
The new Kia Soul SUV is unchanged at its core, but it does get access to a new EX Designer package that offers 18-inch wheels and updated Umber interior trimming. Additionally, the smart key has a safety feature that puts it into sleep mode after 40 seconds to prevent thieves from duplicating the signal.
As one of the most affordable SUVs money can buy, the price of the 2024 Kia Soul is a huge highlight. The base model LX sells for just $19,990, while the S ups the overall value and asks for $22,490. If you want racier exterior styling, the GT-Line will cost you $23,590, while the top-tier EX has an MSRP of $24,290. You'll still need to factor in the $1,325 destination charge and other admin fees like tax or registration.
Since it markets itself as a high-value, ultra-affordable vehicle, the Soul in its base guise may seem like a great way to get cheap transportation, but it's very sparsely outfitted. Instead, we'd suggest the S, which adds just a few grand to the price tag while bringing a lot of desirable features. These include rear cross-traffic alert, lane-change assist, dual-zone climate control, and a smart key. It also gets a much-improved infotainment suite.
With playful styling and plenty of space, the interior of the Soul is perfect for an individual or even an entire family.
For such an affordable car, you'd expect the interior to be rather drab, and while there may be some hard plastics on display, the overall style is playful. Naturally, the cabin is practical, too, given the blocky dimensions of the car which benefit passenger space, and cargo space is another highlight. Nobody would call it luxurious, but the materials are high-quality, and the design language is sophisticated. Compared to similarly priced rivals, the interior is definitely a standout feature of the Soul.
With a high roof and a surprisingly long body for a compact SUV, the Kia Soul has loads of interior space to offer. There is plenty of head- and legroom to go around, with even the second row being more than accommodating for most adults. The high roof also helps when getting inside or out of the vehicle, as nobody should have to slouch down, though the rear doors don't open all that wide. While the dimensions may be conducive to loads of passenger and cargo volume, they don't necessarily help with visibility. This is further hampered by a standard manually adjustable driver's seat, which can make finding an optimal position tricky at first.
There aren't many vehicles in the compact crossover segment that can match the Soul when it comes to trunk space, with an impressive 24.2 cubic feet behind the rear seats. This drops slightly to 23.4 if you get a model equipped with the dual-level cargo floor, but the trade-off is worth the increased versatility. Only the Honda HR-V offers more space, and that's just a measly 0.2 cubes. If you fold down the rear seats in the Soul, you'll have 62.1 cu-ft to work with, and the high roof means you can load some surprisingly unwieldy items.
For in-cabin storage, you get a spacious glove compartment, deep door pockets, and dual cupholders in the front. There is also an overhead console and a small cubby in the center armrest. Passengers in the back only get cupholders once you upgrade to the GT-Line, which has a fold-down middle rear seat.
|Kia Soul||Honda HR-V||Mazda CX-30|
|5 Seater||5 Seater||5 Seater|
|38.3 - 39.9 in. front|
39.5 in. rear
|39.4 in. front|
38 in. rear
|38.1 in. front |
38.3 in. rear
|41.1 in. front|
38.8 in. rear
|41.9 in. front|
37.7 in. rear
|41.7 in. front |
36.3 in. rear
|24.2 - 62.1 ft³||24.4 - 55.1 ft³||20.2 ft³|
Though hardy and affordable, the materials used throughout the Kia Soul are actually pretty good quality, and they look quite nice, too. The base LX gives you cloth upholstery in a choice of two colors - Two-tone Gray or Black. The S is limited to just Black. Tricot cloth in black is slightly plusher and can be found inside the EX, but you get slightly more interior colors if you opt for the SynTex and cloth combination, which comes in Umber. GT-Line trims get this combination upholstery as standard in either Black or Black/White, with the latter only available if you opt for Surf Blue/Fusion Black exterior paint.
Kia is all about value for money, so it ensures that even the base-level Soul comes with a good consignment of features. These include remote keyless entry, a six-way manual driver's seat, manual air conditioning, cruise control, and a single USB port. This is complemented by an eight-inch touchscreen that comes programmed with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, HD Radio, and Bluetooth, all paired with six speakers. A fully digital instrument cluster is standard across the range, too. From the S upwards, a larger 10.25-inch touchscreen becomes standard, along with SiriusXM, Kia Connect, and a wireless phone charger. Added conveniences include an eight-way power driver's seat, dual-zone climate control, and remote start. The GT-Line gets you a sunroof and several optional features that come standard in the EX, including LED interior lighting and heated front seats. It also gets the exclusive option of a ten-speaker Harman Kardon sound system and adjustable speaker lights. Reserved for the EX is a 12-volt cargo power outlet,
|Manual air conditioning|
|Remote keyless entry|
|Eight-way power driver's seats|
|Sunroof with sunshade|
With the turbocharged engine still missing from the lineup, the Soul makes do with a nat-asp four-pot that doesn't get it anywhere in a hurry.
The only engine the Kia Soul gets is a somewhat lethargic 2.0-liter four-cylinder that develops just 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque. It comes mated to a continuously variable transmission that sends these outputs to the front-wheel drive setup. This setup only allows the Kia Soul to go from 0-60 mph in 8.3 seconds, though it can reach a top speed of 120 mph.
With performance being so lackluster, the Soul doesn't need very engaging handling. That being said, the CUV has light steering and boasts impressive feedback for a city car. And despite its blocky dimensions and height, the Soul never feels top-heavy. On the plus side, the CVT is quite good and helps to keep the engine at peak output levels, but the engine tapers off once you get up to speed. It would be nice if Kia brought back the turbocharged engine, but after two years, we have little hope of seeing it again in the current generation and will instead have electrification to look forward to.
As you'd expect from a compact crossover with an eco-focused engine, the Kia Soul gets decent mpg figures. When driven normally, it gets 27/33/30 mpg across the city/highway/combined cycles, but gas mileage improves on the EX model to 29/35/31 mpg.
The small car comes with a fuel capacity of 14.3 gallons, which means you should be able to get between 429 and 443 miles, depending on the drive mode.
|2.0L Inline-4 Gas |
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
|29/35/31 mpg - EX |
27/33/30 mpg - LX, S, GT-Line
A four-star rating from the NHTSA may give some buyers pause, but the IIHS seems to have no doubts about the Soul's safety.
The safety review of the Kia Soul varies a little between the two authorities in the USA. The NHTSA gave it four stars out of five overall, with four-star results for the frontal and rollover crash tests. On the other hand, the IIHS gives the SUV a solid rating of Good across the board for 2023, which should carry over for this model year.
Every model is outfitted with six airbags, ABS, EBD, stability and traction control, and a rollover sensor. This is alongside the suite of driver-assistance tech that includes forward collision warning with pedestrian and cyclist detection, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, and a driver-attention system. Once you upgrade to the S, you also get lane change assist, blind-spot assist, and rear cross-traffic assist, all of which can be added to the LX at a cost. Available exclusively to the GT-Line are highway driving assist, junction turning detection, and navigation with Stop & Go.
|Forward collision avoidance|
|Rear cross-traffic alert|
|Highway driving assist|
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
One of the most dependable cars on the road today, the Kia Soul boasts a reliability rating of 87 out of 100, according to J.D. Power's consumer survey. Nevertheless, the 2023 model was recalled twice for a blank LCD display and a far more urgent problem with the electric oil pump assembly that could result in a fire.
When buying a 2024 Kia Soul, you enjoy the brand's industry-leading warranty that includes a five-year/60,000-mile basic plan and roadside assistance, along with ten years/100,000 miles of powertrain coverage.
While it would be hard to call the Kia Soul beautiful, you wouldn't be wrong if you called it cheeky, or even funky. It is definitely big and blocky, but it has some nice curves around the front fascia, with a large silver/black grille low down in the bumper. The multi-reflector headlights are connected by a slim bar bearing the KIA logo. If you want LED headlights, you have to tick the box on the GT-Line, which is also where the sunroof gets installed. Unique to the GT-Line are gloss-black accents for the grille, mirror caps, and window surrounds. It also gets a very specific grille, as does the EX, though it differs. The base model is equipped with 16-inch alloys, with the EX upgrading to 17 inches, and the GT-Line sporting 18-inch alloys.
This instantly recognizable little crossover has been winning hearts for years, and Kia has only been improving it over the years. It remains one of the most practical, affordable, and surprisingly enjoyable small cars on the road. The modern version is a far cry from the Lego car of yesteryear, combining a fresh exterior with a spacious and well-designed interior. To top it off, the 2024 Soul is also safe and reliable. However, we do have some complaints, with the chief gripe being the engine. It may be fuel-efficient, but it is seriously lacking in power and won't give you the kind of fun you'd get from a Mazda CX-30. But if you're more inclined towards value and responsibility, the Soul is a definite standout in the segment.
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