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Eternal: The 2023 Kia Soul

2023 Kia Soul front 3/4 view

The Kia Soul is a remarkable vehicle. 2023 is its 14th model year. It hasn't strayed from its mission, hasn't radically changed.

2023 Kia Soul rear 3/4 view

It's not the same exact vehicle as it was in 2010---there have been running changes, and improvements, but nothing that would have you look at the new Soul and say "what's that car?" For instance, the front and rear styling of the 2023 Soul are redesigned. But you'd probably have to park next to a '22 to tell what the changes are. There are new colors, tending toward brighter shades, and a simplified lineup of five trim levels (the X-Line and Turbo have been discontinued).

2023 Kia Soul hood up

2023 Kia Soul engine

There's also simplicity under the hood. For 2023, there is only one engine for those five Soul trims---a 147-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder---and one transmission, a CVT that Kia prefers to call an IVT (Intelligent Variable Transmission). The 201-horsepower that was in the previous-gen Turbo is not available even as an option.

Zero to 60 in 8.0 seconds isn't world-beating performance, but it's also not painfully slow, and your patience on on-ramps is rewarded by an EPA fuel economy estimate of 30 miles per gallon, combined city/highway.

2023 Kia Soul rear liftgate open

2023 Kia Soul rear cargo area

2023 Kia Soul rear seat

2023 Kia Soul front seats

2023 Kia Soul front seat detail

2023 Kia Soul instrument panel

The interior is even more gently revised---just slight reshapings of certain elements, and a flat-bottomed steering wheel for GT-Line models. The 10.25-inch color touchscreen, with navigation, is standard on all but the base LX trim.

Feature content for money is a core Kia strength and that's true of the Soul, too. Our tester was the second from top-of-the-line GT-Line (there's a GT-Line Tech at the top of the trim chart this year). Base price is $24,685 including destination. And at that price, a comprehensive active safety suite is standard, along with the aforementioned navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, dual-zone automatic climate control, smart key with pushbutton start, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, wireless phone charger, 18-inch wheels, and a power sunroof (deleted on our tester).

2023 Kia Soul steering wheel and gauge cluster

2023 Kia Soul center console

2023 Kia Soul center stack

The only extra-cost option on our tester was carpeted floor mats ($135), so the as-tested price was $24,820.

2023 Kia Soul front view

2023 Kia Soul side view

2023 Kia Soul rear view

And that's the other way in which Kia is keeping the Soul on target---pricing. Very well equipped for under $25,000 out the door is what passes for dirt cheap in new cars these days. The Soul in many ways is the new (original) VW Beetle---a car that seems not to change, yet gets better all the time.


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