• Car Review

2019 Kia Soul Review

By Autolist Editorial | September 3, 2020

Quick Facts:


  • Ample cargo space.
  • Excellent fuel economy.
  • Strong powertrain lineup.


  • Base safety features are lacking.
  • Braking could be more responsive.
  • Rear seats are a little tight.

Would we buy one? Yes.

Vehicle Type: Four-door subcompact crossover SUV with seating for up to five people.

Price Range: From $16,490 MSRP to $35,950 MSRP, including a $940 destination charge.

Powertrain: A 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with 130 horsepower and 118 lb-ft of torque, six-speed automatic transmission, and front-wheel-drive.

A 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 161 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque, a six-speed manual or continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), and front-wheel-drive.

A 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque, a seven-speed dual-clutch automated transmission, and front-wheel-drive.

Competitors: Chevrolet Trax, Fiat 500X, Ford Ecosport, Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade, Mazda CX-3, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Nissan Kicks, Subaru Crosstrek, Toyota C-HR.

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Overall Score: 7.7/10

Safety Features: 8/10


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the 2019 Kia Soul five out of five stars in crash tests except for the rollover in which it received four out of five stars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Soul a Top Safety Pick award in overall testing.

Available driver assistance technology equipment and features include adaptive cruise control, emergency braking, forward collision warning, and blind-spot monitoring, depending on the model.

Value: 8/10


The Kia Soul continues to offer a lot of car for the money among small hatchback and SUV rivals. There are five trim levels for the 2019 Kia Soul. They are the Kia Soul Base, Kia Soul Plus, Kia Soul Exclaim, Soul EV, and Soul EV Plus. Pricing for the Soul Base starts at $16,490 MSRP, with the better equipped Soul Plus starting at $21,430 MSRP. Moving to the top tier Soul Exclaim puts the starting price at $22,990 MSRP. The Soul EV starts at $33,950 MSRP, and the Soul EV Plus is $35,950 MSRP.

The Kia Soul EV is well-priced for an all-electric model, but its relatively short range puts it in competition with the less expensive Hyundai Ioniq Electric. However, the sporty Soul Exclaim, with its turbocharged engine, makes for a more practical alternative to a Ford Fiesta ST or Honda Civic Si, for example. The Nissan Kicks offers the Soul some tough competition on price, and it is slightly larger. But the Kicks lacks some available features and doesn't offer any more powerful engine options other than its 122-horsepower four-cylinder.

The Kia Soul has a long 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty and five-year, 60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper coverage. Only models from Hyundai and Mitsubishi can match that.

Tech Features: 8/10


Besides the driver assistance features mentioned above, the base Kia Soul gets standard infotainment system equipment like a 5.0-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port, air conditioning, and a 6-speaker audio system. Stepping up to the Plus trim level adds fog lights, cruise control, keyless entry, and automatic climate control. Some available options include a Harman/Kardon sound system, a panoramic sunroof, and a larger 4.3-inch gauge cluster display.

Upgraded infotainment offerings come standard with the EV and EV Plus models of the Soul. They are feature-rich and include the UVO infotainment system with an 8.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a navigation system, a heated steering wheel, and heated front seats.

Practicality: 8/10


The Soul has 24.2 cubic feet with the rear seats up. Rear seats down, the cargo capacity is increased to 61.3 cubic feet of cargo space. That makes the Kia Soul more spacious than some models like the Mazda CX-3 and Toyota C-HR. Interior seating is comfortable, and entry and exit from the vehicle should be easy for anyone thanks to tall doors that open relatively wide. Legroom may be a challenge for larger adults in the rear seats, though.

Unlike most small SUVs, however, all-wheel-drive isn't offered on any Soul model, and its relatively low ground clearance means it won't handle unpaved roads or deep snow as well as a Subaru Crosstrek.

Styling & Design: 7/10


The Soul's exterior is dependent on taste, with more stylish rivals like the Mazda CX-3 and Toyota C-HR that forgo the box shape for more sleek curves and sportier stylings appealing to certain demographics more. An updated Soul arrives for 2020.

The interior of the base Kia Soul gets seats covered in a reasonably nice cloth upholstery. Upper-tier trims get all the extras such as leather seats, with some options and upgrades available. Those cars also get a few more design touches inside to brighten the interior.

Driving Experience: 7/10


The Kia Soul offers some performance with the Exclaims seven-speed transmission coupled with the turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. It is not breaking any records for sure, but it does pack some punch. The base 1.6-liter is lackluster.

Handling is good, and the suspension provides a decently comfortable ride. At higher speeds, maybe from the design, wind noise becomes noticeable. But even with the turbocharged engine, the Soul isn't as fun to drive as a Mazda CX-3.

Fuel Efficiency: 8/10


Fuel economy for the Soul is on par with the competition, and the Soul EV offers something unusual among its rivals. Rivals like the Honda HR-V will give better gas mileage with similar powertrains, and the Chevy Bolt has a far better range than the Soul EV.

The 1.6-liter 130 horsepower four-cylinder with the manual transmission and FWD drivetrain gets 24/30/27 MPG city/hwy/combined. The same powertrain with the 6-speed automatic transmission gets 26/31/28 MPG city/hwy/combined according to EPA estimates. The 2.0-liter gets 25/30/27 MPG city/hwy/combined according to the EPA. The 1.6-liter turbo gets 26/31/28 MPG city/hwy/combined. The Soul EV is rated at 111 miles of range, and a combined 108 MPGe.

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