Kia Soul gets good marks, but sales numbers are declining

Photos by Paul Borden

By Paul Borden

(February 5, 2023) The Kia Soul generally gets good marks from reviewers — U.S. News & World Report places it No. 2 in its class in its analysis/ratings of subcompact SUVs — but you have to wonder if boxy little hatchback-stye vehicle has jumped the shark. Sales reports show a decline of nearly 25 percent in 2022 numbers, the third straight year of under 100,000 in sales after a solid seven-year, six-figure run that hit a high of 154,768 in 2016.

According to numbers from, 56,740 Kia Souls went out showroom doors last year, down from 75,136 in 2021. Beginning in 2011, when the number of Souls sold (say “Souls sold” three times real fast) hit 102,267, the Soul surpassed the 100,000 mark every year until 2019, when it just missed at 97,814.

Looks like the hamsters who bopped and danced their way into the hearts of many consumers in a memorable television ad campaign have some work to do.

The 2023 Kia Soul is offered in six trims with the LX serving as the base model and coming in at just under $20,000 before any options and delivery charges are added. Even the top-of-the-portfolio GT-Line that this review is based on comes in at under $25,000, making the Kia Soul one of the more competitive models in its class budget-wise.

With the turbo option discontinued, all 2023 Kia Souls come with a 2,0-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). That combination doesn’t offer much in the way of performance, but it feels peppy enough around town. The 4-banger is rated at only 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque.

Gas mileage is ordinary for its class at 28 miles-per-gallon around town and 33 mpg on the highway for a final combined EPA rating of 30 mpg.

The list of standard equipment in the 2023 Kia Soul GT Line is fairly impressive.

Driver Assist Technology features include forward collision avoidance assist,  blind-spot warning, rear-cross traffic collision-avoidance assist, lane-keeping and lane-following assist, high beam assist, and a driver attention alert.

Inside, the base LX model gets an 8-inch color touchscreen but other trims get a larger, 10.25-inch screen that includes satellite radio capability and navigation.

Also standard in the 2023 Kia Soul GT-Line are dual zone climate control, a 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat with 2-way lumbar support, a GT-Line leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather-wrapped shift knob, Smart key and push-button start, cloth and Syn-Tex seating surfaces, wireless charging, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability.

The hamsters do like their tunes, and the GT-Line model includes an upgraded Harman Kardon premium sound system as an option not offered on other trims.

With a length of 165.2 inches, all 2023 Kia Souls offer 41.1 inches of legroom up front, 38.8 inches in the rear, and cargo room of up to 24.2 cubic feet behind the second row and 62.1 cubic feet with those seats folded.

The 2023 Kia Soul GT-Line rides on 18-inch alloy wheels, gets special GT-Line styling cues, and comes with a sunroof with a power shade. (LX and S models get 16-inch wheels, EX 17s.)

My test 2023 Kia Soul GT-Line came with only one option ($135 for carpeted floor mats). That and a freight charge of $1,295 added to the starting MSRP of $23,390 brought the final bottom line to $24,820.

What I liked about the 2023 Kia Soul GT Line: The abundant infotainment features are user-friendly. The radio function even has knobs to surf the dial and adjust volume instead of buttons. Sport mode helps provide for a livelier performance. The ride is comfortable. The boxy design doesn’t have a lot of eye appeal but makes for a roomy interior.

What I didn’t like about the 2023 Kia Soul GT Line: With the elimination of the turbo option, only one engine choice is offered, and all-wheel drive is not available. In addition to the meager horsepower from the 2.0L engine, the CVT detracts from the potential performance. Rear storage isn’t bad for the class, but the hamster family would be advised to travel light if there are five of them on the trip.

Would I buy the 2023 Kia Soul GT Line? Sorry, hamsters, but there are more appealing choices in the subcompact SUV segment to those who can’t think outside the box (pun intended). Pricing, however, is strong in the Soul’s favor.