2013 Kia Soul

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$5,851–$13,615 Inventory Prices
Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
Warranty & CPO
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Key Specs

of the 2013 Kia Soul. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    25-27 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    138-hp, 1.6-liter I-4 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain:
    Front-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    6-speed manual w/OD
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Value
  • Impressive safety features
  • Cabin quality
  • Powerful upgraded stereo
  • Solid brakes
  • Warranty

The Bad

  • Ride over rough pavement
  • Wind and road noise
  • Small cargo space
2013 Kia Soul exterior side view

Notable Features of the 2013 Kia Soul

  • Standard Bluetooth connectivity
  • Choice of two four-cylinder engines
  • Standard USB/iPod input
  • Available backlit speakers
  • Front-wheel drive
  • Manual or automatic transmission

2013 Kia Soul Road Test

Kristin Varela

Despite its polarizing, too-young-for-some design, the 2013 Kia Soul seems to have just about everything you could need in a car, without inundating you with too many fluffy extras.

Lucky for you, a carful of tween girls blasting "Party Rock Anthem" non-stop doesn't come standard.

The five-seat Soul is available in three trim levels: base, Soul+ and the Soul! that I drove. Compare the three side-by-side here. If you're in the market for similarly priced and body-type vehicles, you should also check out the Nissan Cube and Scion xB. See them side-by-side here. The Soul hasn't changed much since last year's model, but you can compare the two here.

EXTERIOR
The Soul really speaks for itself in terms of exterior design. When we first saw it back in 2008, it was aggressively styled with straight lines and square corners, standing out against a backdrop of progressively sleeker cars. With several other similarly shaped cars on the road today, the Soul is no longer the odd man out.

Its modernized-mail-truck look will either appeal to you or not. Between its shape, its features and its fun, youthful marketing, the Soul tends to appeal to a younger market, but quite a few Boomers are driving them, as well, thanks to the Kia's retirement-friendly price tag and hip-high front seats, which make it easy to get in and out without too much strain or bending.

One of our reviewers came close to purchasing a Soul for her own small family, based upon its func...

Despite its polarizing, too-young-for-some design, the 2013 Kia Soul seems to have just about everything you could need in a car, without inundating you with too many fluffy extras.

Lucky for you, a carful of tween girls blasting "Party Rock Anthem" non-stop doesn't come standard.

The five-seat Soul is available in three trim levels: base, Soul+ and the Soul! that I drove. Compare the three side-by-side here. If you're in the market for similarly priced and body-type vehicles, you should also check out the Nissan Cube and Scion xB. See them side-by-side here. The Soul hasn't changed much since last year's model, but you can compare the two here.

EXTERIOR
The Soul really speaks for itself in terms of exterior design. When we first saw it back in 2008, it was aggressively styled with straight lines and square corners, standing out against a backdrop of progressively sleeker cars. With several other similarly shaped cars on the road today, the Soul is no longer the odd man out.

Its modernized-mail-truck look will either appeal to you or not. Between its shape, its features and its fun, youthful marketing, the Soul tends to appeal to a younger market, but quite a few Boomers are driving them, as well, thanks to the Kia's retirement-friendly price tag and hip-high front seats, which make it easy to get in and out without too much strain or bending.

One of our reviewers came close to purchasing a Soul for her own small family, based upon its functionality and family-friendly budget, but she concluded she just couldn't quite jump on the Soul train as a 40-something.

FAMILY-FRIENDLY FEATURES
The Soul's boxy shape lends itself to practical interior cabin space. Backseat passengers not only have plenty of headroom, but also fantastic visibility due to the large expanses of glass and the slightly raised, theater-style rear seat. For young kids with a tendency to motion sickness, the extra-wide view might just keep you from having to stock your glove box full of gallon-sized Ziplocs.

The 39 inches of backseat legroom was plenty of space for all three of my girls' (ages 8, 10 and 12) gangly, growing legs. That's quite impressive compared with the Nissan Cube's 35.5 inches of rear legroom. The Scion xB falls between the two with 38 inches of rear legroom. There was just enough seat width to squeeze all three of my kids in side by side, with just one of them in a slim Bubble Bum booster seat.

This extra backseat room, however, comes at the expense of cargo space; there's just 19.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the backseat. I was quite surprised by the tiny cargo space the first time I opened up the cargo door. I was expecting more of that Magic School Bus effect, seeing how large this small car otherwise feels on the inside. A few boxes of snacks and water bottles from the warehouse store were about all I could fit. Families with large strollers, wheelchairs or suitcases may need to rethink this car. Still, the Soul's rear space beats the Cube, which has just 11.4 cubic feet of space. With the backseat folded, the Soul has 53.4 cubic feet of cargo volume while the Cube boasts 58.1 cubic feet.

Storage areas throughout the Soul's interior helped keep my sometimes-chaotic family-car life a little bit more under control. A small center console up front was just large enough to stash my phone and snacks. In-door storage bins in all four doors, plus netted pockets on the front seatbacks, held all my other odds and ends.

As the driver, I had access to almost every feature that has become important to me while filtering out the noise of extra features that I don't use (the lighted stereo speakers that flash along with the music were a gimmicky trick the kids thought was cool — and I turned off the second they stepped out of the car).

I appreciated the remote keyless entry, which is standard on the Soul! trim level, with the added benefit of push-button start that came as part of a $2,500 Premium Package. This package also gave my family two-tone, easy-to-wipe-clean leather seats that were heated up front for my driving pleasure. The standard Bluetooth technology was a cinch to pair with my phone, though the flip side was that it was also a cinch to pair with my 12-year-old daughter's phone. This gave her the ability to play and replay "Party Rock Anthem" while driving through the school carpool lane, Chick-fil-A and more. Apparently, it was hilarious. Just ask my kids.

IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair

SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times

BEHIND THE WHEEL
The base Soul has a 138-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder. The Soul+ and my Soul! test car have an upgraded 164-hp, 2.0-liter engine. All Souls have front-wheel drive, and the base and Soul+ come with either a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic. The Soul! is automatic only. Mine had plenty of zip and zing for daily, around-town driving, even while in Eco mode, which can help drivers improve gas mileage. On the highway, however, you really have to nurse the Soul to keep it up to speed, unlike other vehicles that seem to practically drive themselves. Because it lacks cruise control, lots of highway driving in a base Soul would definitely become tiresome.

Also contributing to driver fatigue over long distances is the Kia Soul's cabin noise. While the engine is really quite quiet, the Soul shows its budget pricing through lack of noise insulation. Road and wind noise are immediately apparent when driving this car.

My car's EPA-estimated fuel economy was 23/28 mpg city/highway. The 2.0-liter with the manual transmission gets an estimated 24/29 mpg. The Soul+ with an automatic transmission is eligible for an optional Eco Package (not the Eco mode that comes in all Souls) with special tires and a provision that turns the engine off and on at stoplights, for an estimated increase of 1 mpg over the regular 2.0-liter automatic.

The base Soul, with its 1.6-liter engine, is rated 25/30 mpg regardless of transmission.

The Kia Soul's tight suspension is fun and sporty-feeling around town, but its inability to absorb and recover from bumps became disconcerting at highway speeds. For example, when taking a curved ramp from one highway to another, the Soul jumped around a bit over the rough bump where the two connected, requiring me to focus and hang on more tightly to the steering wheel so it wouldn't skip out from under me in the curve.

The Soul's tight 34.4-foot turning circle made quick errands a blast, turning on a dime into tight parking spaces that others passed up.

SAFETY
The 2013 Kia Soul is an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick, having received the institute's top rating of Good in front, side, rear and roof-strength tests. It hasn't undergone the small-overlap front test. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Soul an overall crash-test rating of four out of five stars.

As has been required since the 2012 model year, the Kia Soul has standard antilock brakes, electronic stability control and traction control. The Soul has standard dual advanced airbags in front, front-seat-mounted side-impact airbags and full-length side curtain airbags.

The Kia Soul! that I drove also had a standard backup camera display (it's optional on the Soul+ and not available on the Kia Soul base model). While it's not yet a requirement on cars, we anticipate backup cameras being mandated in the coming years, so having one standard in the Soul! added to my peace of mind in a house full of my kids, nephews, kids' friends and pets.

For families installing child-safety seats, the Kia Soul's lower Latch anchors are shallow within the seat bight, but don't offer much clearance on the top and bottom of the anchor. This may make installing child-safety seats with rigid Latch hooks difficult. However, seats that use Latch hooks on flexible nylon webbing should be easier to install.

My two youngest daughters complained about the seat belt buckles in the Soul. Because they're on floppy nylon bases, they have a tendency to slip and tuck themselves under the back of a booster seat when not in use. So when my daughter climbed in, it was tough for her to locate the buckle without climbing back out of her seat and moving the booster out of the way to find the buckle. Read our full Car Seat Check here.

See all the standard safety features listed here.

Send Kristin an email  

 


Latest 2013 Soul Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.6)
Performance
(4.4)
Interior Design
(4.5)
Comfort
(4.5)
Reliability
(4.6)
Value For The Money
(4.6)

Latest Reviews

(4.0)

Have owned it for 6 years and no problems yet

by Janeybird from Texarkana on June 20, 2018

I like my little Soul, it's comfortable, reliable, actually very roomy, good gas mileage. Only thing I don't like is there are blind spots in the rear so would prefer the back windows to be wide open ... Read full review

(4.0)

Very reliable car.

by Shermc from Little Rock, AR on June 2, 2018

I bought this car new and haven't had any problems with it. It drives great, gets pretty good gas mileage, has 3 usb ports, it's equipped with Sirius, I really can't complain about anything. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2013 Kia Soul currently has 1 recall

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2013 Kia Soul Base

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
acceptable
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    120 months / 100,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    60 months / 60,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Kia

Program Benefits

164-point inspection, Carfax vehicle history report, 10-year/unlimited mileage 24-hour roadside assistance including trip-interruption services and lockout assistance

  • Limited Warranty

    10 years / 100,000 miles

    10-year/100,000 mile powertrain limited warranty; towing/rental/travel breakdown benefits; eligible for additional comprehensive mechanical failure. Comprehensive: 12 months/12,000 miles from date of purchase.
  • Eligibility

    Under 5 years / 60,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 164 point inspection and reconditioning.

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Soul received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker