By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.3
When it launched in 2009, the Soul sparked Kia's design revolution, and the 2013 Kia Soul still makes no apologies for its funky looks and brash attitude. Rather, the Soul touts its youthful nature and is proud of its status as a low-cost alternative to hatchbacks and traditional economy cars. Bolstered by vibrant paint choices, well-equipped interiors, Kia's generous warranty and, yes, even those hamster pitchmen, the Soul has been a sales success for Kia. The Soul's design isn't quite as fresh as it was four years ago, but Kia's 5-passenger compact hauler still stands apart from angular rivals like the Nissan Cube and Scion xB with its athletic looks and refined powertrain.
If you're looking for a stylish, youthful car that boasts good fuel economy, lots of versatility, and many features for a low price, the Soul could be your mate.
The Soul may look part SUV, but with front-wheel-drive only and minimal ground clearance, its home is the pavement. If you need a compact vehicle that doesn't mind occasionally getting dirty and has the capacity to tow, look to a compact crossover like the Subaru Forester or Ford Escape.
Changes are minimal for the 2013 Kia Soul a year after it received new drivetrains. Among the differences this year are a revised hood badge, and Bluetooth wireless connectivity and steering wheel-mounted audio controls now standard on base models with manual transmission.
Driving Impressions The Kia Soul is available in three trims – Base, Plus (+), Exclaim (!) – and offered with two different 4-cylinder engines. Base models use a small 1.6-liter, and all...other models are propelled by a bigger and more powerful 2.0-liter. The base engine is adequate at accelerating the Soul, and not surprisingly, the bigger engine has an easier time getting this little 5-door vehicle up to speed. The Soul is no speed demon, but it's also not so slow that you'll dread freeway onramps. The recent addition of a 6-speed automatic transmission provides quieter and more fuel-efficient cruising, but needs to downshift sometimes two gears to get the car up inclines or to pass other vehicles. The driver's seat is relatively high and provides good forward visibility. Ride quality is still decent as in past Kia Souls, and sound deadening has improved from more insulation material.
INFINITY AUDIO SYSTEM
The available 350-watt system is music to our ears, and for those who want visual pizzazz, speaker lights can pulse to the beat for an extra treat.
2-TONE LEATHER SEATING
This optional trim in sand and black gives the Soul's interior a more sophisticated feel, literally and figuratively.
The Soul's eccentric exterior flows into the cabin, where bright colors and nifty features abound. At center stage is a large, surfboard-shaped dash module that houses the Soul's audio and climate functions. A 4.3-inch color touch screen display is available and lends more sophistication, as does optional leather seating. Kia dubs the Soul a "lounge on wheels" and has filled it with numerous cubby holes and storage spaces for a multitude of drinks and devices. Among the youth-centric features of the 2013 Soul are lights that envelope the speakers and that can pulsate in multiple colors to music. (This can be switched off as the novelty wanes). Rear legroom is commendable, and cargo room is good.Exterior
The most noticeable thing about a Kia Soul is its shape, which you might liken to a sneaker on wheels. Unlike boxy cars such as the Nissan Cube and Scion xB, the 2013 Kia Soul has a forward-leaning stance and sloped rear windows and beltlines that lend an athletic stance. Big, trapezoidal headlights give character to the Soul's squat face, while long, vertical taillights do the same at rear on each side of the upward-opening hatch door. Other exterior design features vary by trim. Base models ride on 15-inch wheels, Plus models move up to 16-inch versions, and Exclaim models roll on 18-inch alloys.
A base 2013 Kia Soul comes with a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine and 6-speed manual transmission (a 6-speed automatic transmission is optional), power windows and door locks with remote keyless entry, and Bluetooth connectivity with steering-wheel-mounted controls for the AM/FM/CD/satellite radio. Plus models add features like a bigger engine, tweeter speakers, and leather-wrapped steering wheel. Top-line Exclaim models add 18-inch wheels, UVO Microsoft-powered infotainment system and Infinity audio, rear camera, power sunroof, 2-tone seating, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Like all new Kia vehicles, the Soul's powertrain is backed by a 10-year/100,000-mile warranty.
The Kia Soul can be nicely optioned up, with feature availability varying by trim level. Among the add-ons are heated front seats, a premium audio system with HD Radio, navigation, automatic climate control, and leather seating. An Eco package attains higher fuel economy with low-resistance tires and an engine start/stop system.
Base models of the 2013 Soul use a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder, while the higher-trim Plus and Exclaim models employ a more powerful 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. Transmission choices are a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic. All Soul models are front-wheel drive. We don't recommend trying to win any street races with the Soul, as mighty acceleration is not its forte. For those craving the best fuel economy in their Soul, a new Eco Package available in cars with automatic transmission stops the engine when idling to conserve fuel.
138 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
123 lb-ft of torque @ 4,850 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/30 mpg (manual and automatic), 26/31 mpg (automatic with Eco package)
164 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
148 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/29 mpg (manual), 23/28 (automatic), 24/29 mpg (automatic with Eco package)
By Kimmy on Monday, January 26, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 39,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "roomy, comfortable, reliable, cute"
Cons: "console area could be bigger"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This car is awesome! Super roomy, cute and reliable! If I had to pick one thing that could be improved it would be the little console areas, the one on the dash won't even hold a CD,it's too short. the one in between seats seems like its a little too far back. That is all I can think of. I've only had this car a few months, bought it with 36,000 miles on it and now it has 39,000. Before I bought this vehicle I would stop people in parking lots who had them and they all said they loved theirs. I can see why! I really believe that you would love it too, I say go for it!"
By Owner on Tuesday, January 20, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 70,800overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Bluetooth, MP3, sit high"
Cons: "Driving experience during the day and the night."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"Agreed with others on loud environment - car is cheap. Harsh ride, weak engine. Gas mileage - can be good only on steady 45-55 mph ride - can be up to 33-34 mpg. Hwy - truly depends on speed and style, mpg can easily go down to 24 mpg if the speed is around 75-80 mph. New car had bad tires, and I had a small accident sliding toward a vehicle on a wet road going 20 mph. Replacing tires fixed the issue. The headlights have a poor adjustment. The service on local dealership is tired on my complaints, but the answer that the lights are meeting the specs. Driving at night I feel blind. Driving during wet weather I feel insecure, wet nights - I feel unfortunate to drive. The car withstand a deer run and hit to the car side - I feel grateful on happy ending. A/C, heater - sometimes it gets foggy inside with no reason. I suspect worn window seals but not sure. Overall - it is a car that will bring you from the point a to the point b with some comfort, usb stick can play your favorite MP3s but be somewhat careful. The car is easy to park."
5 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By HB on Sunday, January 04, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 47,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "MPGs, driving position, surprising quality"
Cons: "slow acceleration, engine noise"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Good quality unit. MPGs overall is 27...mostly small town driving with some regular highway trips. 30+ MPG during fall trip to Florida. Upright seating. Sits taller than a sedan but shorter than a small SUV. 2.0 engine is adequate when combined with automatic. Good little "grocery getter" and daily commuter. Don't buy it for luxury, buy it for practical, reliable and good MPGs-then you'll be pleased with the quality build!"
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Cincygrl on Wednesday, December 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 22,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Sporty, Fun to drive, Full of Extras"
Cons: "Handling not great in snow, a little pricey"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I really enjoy this car! I was first attracted to the body style and interior. There are lots of extras that I didn't expect like the very tight handling. I bought a manual transmission on purpose because I love to drive! It s the only way to really experience a car in my opinion :) So I was pleasantly surprised at the tight suspension and almost too easy steering and handling. I live in a very hilly, curvy almost rural area and the roads are fun to drive with this car. It also does impressively on longer highway trips with great gas mileage and comfort. The only reason I rated Driving Dynamics a little low (8) is because I also live in an area that receives lots of snow and ice in winter. THat is the only area where this car didn't manage as well as I'd hoped. Even with traction control, I didn't feel its grip on the snow and hills as much as I'd have liked. I owned a Toyota Matrix prior that was also manual and it handled quite well in snow, etc. Otherwise, this is a fun car to drive, economical and sharp looking inside and out. instrumentation looks very slick and well built. No cheap looking aspects to anything IMO and compared to other similar cars in this class. I personally do not like ABS brakes lol. I cannot seem to get used to the sound or that you don't need to pump them when sliding...that's a personal issue, not the performance of this car! The Value was also rated a little low because it seemed a bit high priced to me by a couple thousand dollars. I purposely buy cars that are about 2 years old in order to get closer to the value of the car and still get most current features so I got a great deal on mine. But they seem a bit pricey to me if new and in this class. If you like fun, sporty, fully loaded with great extra kinds of cars that are also economical, this is the car for you. I highly recommend them. Happy Driving!"
2 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Linds on Sunday, December 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 36,500overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "6 speed manual transmission"
Cons: "Lack of trunk/hatch space"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Cost effective. It's hard to find manual transmissions but the Kia Soul offers a 6 speed manual. Easy to shift, great clutch. The drive train has been reliable with no mechanical repairs having to be made. I've had the car for 3 years and have not yet had to replace the battery and tires still in good condition. Gas milage is fairly decent and I get money refunded to me from kia every 6 months b/c they overinflated the MPG. Having children, the soul is not nearly as spacious as other kia SUVs. I feel very cramped and there's absolutely no trunk/hatch space."
5 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By MIKE on Saturday, December 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "every safety option I could think of was standard"
Cons: "expected better gas mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I purchased my Soul new in 2010 and after nearly 5 years have never had any issues with it. Have returned to dealer for one recall (replaced brake light switch) and for routine oil + filter changes . Still has the original battery and tires still look like brand new showing very little wear at all yet. Has been super dependable, safe and economical."
5 people out of 6 found this review helpful