Kia Soul: Chronicling the Changes

Revised: October 16, 2023

Beginning in the 2000s, several manufacturers developed boxy-style vehicles to appeal to young buyers. Honda, Scion, and Nissan were well represented, with the Kia Soul entering the fray in 2010. Today, every model except the Soul is gone, attesting to Kia’s staying power. The Soul is a utility vehicle that defies easy description. But it remains an affordable entry-level model with a fun side.

Kia logo

Chronicling the Changes

2024 — This year, Kia introduces an EX Designer Package. Other changes involve package shuffling.

2023 – For 2023, the Soul benefits from exterior freshening including new colors and a fresh grille design. Kia simplifies the Soul’s grade lineup to just four variants: LX, S, EX, and GT-Line. Lastly, several new tech features emerge, including forward collision avoidance assist.

2022 – Once again, the Soul is carried over, but with minor visual enhancements. Most notably, the brand’s new logo design is evident on the hood, liftgate, and wheel center caps.

2021 – This year, the Soul carries over with minor changes.

2020 – Kia launches the third-generation Soul, retaining but modernizing its iconic shape accordingly. Built on an all-new platform the 2020 Soul features a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine combined with a new continuously variable transmission. The turbo engine carries forward. New GT-Line and X-Line trims offer “more visual and performance excitement.” Among the newly available features are a 10.25-inch screen and a head-up display. Sound mood lighting, wireless charging, and dual-zone climate control are other features of note. An all-new Soul EV joins the model line and is available in limited markets.

Third-Generation Kia Soul

The third-generation Kia Soul
The third-generation Kia Soul

2019 – Minor package adjustments mark this year’s model, including a standard 5-inch touchscreen display, a rear camera display, and voice recognition.

2018 — The 2018 Soul is a carryover model with minimal enhancements.

2017 — For the first time, a Kia Soul offers a turbocharged engine. It is presented with the Exclaim trim only, a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 201 horsepower. Power routes to the front wheels utilizing a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

2016 — Kia improves the standard equipment level and makes other enhancements regarding packaging.

2015 — Light tech changes and amenities shuffling accompany this year’s model. A Soul EV debuts for the California market.

2014 — Kia introduces the second-generation Soul, delivering a fresh and modern style. Although the powertrain choices return, other changes such as improved materials, and a long list of standard and available features make this model a strong contender.

Second-Generation Kia Soul

The second-generation Kia Soul
The second-generation Kia Soul

2013 — Lights changes accompany the first-generation Kia Soul in its fourth and final year before a new model arrives.

2012 — A refreshed Soul arrives with updated interior and exterior styling. Kia increases the power levels for both engines. These engines work with either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission.

2011 — The rear drum brakes are gone in favor of disc brakes. Along with new rear shock absorbers, the Soul supplies an improved ride and better braking.

2010 — The Kia Soul arrives on the market in early 2009 as a 2010 model, fresh off its 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show debut. The Soul is unique to the Hyundai-Kia universe, a special model unlike anything offered by this manufacturer at that time. The front-wheel-drive-only Soul arrives and comes in four trims – Base, Plus (+), Exclaim (!), and Sport. It comes well-equipped and features a pair of four-cylinder engines. The first engine displaces 1.6 liters and works with a 5-speed manual transmission. The second engine displaces 2.0 liters and comes with a manual or a four-speed automatic. The Soul seats five and delivers outstanding cargo space and utility.

First-Generation Kia Soul

The first-generation Kia Soul
The first-generation Kia Soul

Kia Soul Considerations

Exactly what kind of vehicle is the Kia Soul? Some call it a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV), while others define it as a wagon or a utility vehicle. We go with the latter even though its quirkiness does make it hard to categorize.

Its exterior size places it amongst the smallest models on the market, but its roomy interior evokes comparison to larger vehicles. In any case, we believe such models as the Fiat 500L, Chevrolet Trax, Jeep Renegade, and Toyota C-HR are worthy competitors. Among some of the larger vehicles worth comparing are the Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue Sport, and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport.

See AlsoThe Hyundai Tucson Now Offers Two Hybrid Choices

The first two photos are copyrighted Stumpwater Media Group, LLC. All rights reserved. The third photo is public domain as supplied by Wikipedia.

Matt Keegan
Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan is a journalist, media professional, and owner of this website. He has an extensive writing background and has covered the automotive sector continuously since 2004. When not driving and evaluating new vehicles, Matt enjoys spending his time outdoors.

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