I’m sad to report, the fun is gone for the quirky hatch that is the Kia Soul. In the latest update from Kia for the 2023 Soul, the brand is dropping its turbo engine from the hatchback’s lineup.
The Soul still sells well for the brand, with over 75,000 sold in 2021 alone. So people still truly desire the hatch. The likely lesser-known turbo option, now meeting its end, could be found on the GT-Line with go-fast sporty looks or full-on Turbo trims. Where else could you go to get a turbocharged 200-horsepower I4 and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission in a hatchback? At this price point, that kind of vehicle is pretty much extinct.
The turbo combined with the quick-shifting DCT was no slouch either, with a 6.3-6.4 second 0–60 mph time. So, while there is still a GT-Line trim for 2023, there’s no turbo engine for it which in my mind kind of defeats the purpose.
The quirky X-Line, faux off-roader trim has been dropped as well. It combined 18-inch wheels with “rugged” body trim and two-tone paint to create the illusion of the Soul being some small outdoorsy crossover.
The Soul is now just another compact car that will surely get lost in the crowd before it ends up being canceled altogether. The sole engine and transmission choice is the 2.0-liter 147 horsepower I4 paired with what Kia describes as an “Intelligent Variable Automatic Transmission.” This is just marketing speak to soften the blow of calling it a CVT. It’s a CVT.
The lineup is now LX, S, EX, and GT-Line trims. There’s a redesigned front facia, two new paint colors, one of which is a rather nice blue with black roof combination. The biggest changes are the availability of driver safety systems across the board, even on basic LX trims. This includes features like pedestrian detection, driver attention alert, and auto emergency braking. While it’s great these features are standard at such a low price point, none of this makes me feel better about the loss of the turbo engine and the DCT. The only way to get that combo now from Kia is to look towards a Forte GT. While no pricing has been announced yet, the 2023 Kia Soul goes on sale this summer.