Or maybe I am a freak, or I just really like hamsters (they are pretty freaking cool when you think about it). They make convincing spokescritters, if you ask me. Speaking of critique, the Soul has, once again, won a Car and Driver Editors Choice Award for 2022, and it remains a quirky, spacious, practical and peppy compact SUV, in the Turbo option at least. It’s even fairly efficient, considering it’s rolling cinder block silhouette. While the U.S. no longer gets the EV version of the Soul, it isn’t out of the question that some form of electrified Soul might show up at some point in the next few years (my guess would be an HEV version, if any), perhaps sharing motivation with the Niro HEV or a possible Seltos HEV. Re-electrifying the Soul would certainly give its green bonafides a welcome jolt.
But what’s it like to drive the Soul? According to a handful of reviews, the Soul has “impressive power output… [and also] lack of power”, which isn’t confusing at all, but may just be the result of the schism between its two powertrain options (a base 147-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder, and a 201-hp turbo 1.6-liter four-cylinder). Motortrend says the 2022 Soul is “poised in corners and over uneven surfaces, steering is accurate… and it doesn’t feel underpowered”. Car and Driver says the base engine “feels peppy around town”, and a few years ago even advised purchasing that option over the more powerful turbo (unusual given C&D’s performance proclivities). Back then, C&D also said its steering was disappointing due to its “numb and strongly boosted” character, but mentioned nothing of the sort for 2022, and given other reviews of the 2022 Soul, it would seem that, at least in the Sport mode setting, Kia has addressed this.
The Soul’s relative power, and competent handling (not to mention it’s attractive interior), all but eradicate my memory of driving that old Datsun 710 station wagon. It was kind of like hooning a thrashed Big Wheel with one bent handle and a missing pedal, only the hooning wasn’t on purpose. It was just the way the thing drove! Otherwise, the recently departed Honda Fit is actually the closest car I can compare the Kia Soul to, with similar interior practicality, handling, and a feeling of nimbleness (if not due to steering and corner hugging, then its proportions and lightweight feel). However, the Soul has more power and the Fit has better, tighter and more sporty steering.
While the Soul may not be worthy of an epic poem to describe the glory of its engine and the crispness of its handling, it’s worthy of more verses than those lip synced by adorable little hamsters all those years ago. A haiku? A limerick perhaps? There once was a car full of charm… Yes. Something like that. The Soul is quite aptly named because it feels good to drive. It has enough connection to the road, enough airiness inside to stretch out in, to haul a good amount of stuff in, to play or adventure in. Its performance and steering feel aren’t distractions. They just feel right, as they are. Yes. The Soul, it feels right. It feels familiar and fun. It feels like it's part of you.
Images by Kia.
Justin Hart has owned and driven electric vehicles for over 14 years, including a first generation Nissan LEAF, second generation Chevy Volt, Tesla Model 3, an electric bicycle and most recently a Kia Sorento PHEV. He is also an avid SUP rider, poet, photographer and wine lover. He enjoys taking long EV and PHEV road trips to beautiful and serene places with the people he loves. Follow Justin on Twitter for daily KIA EV news coverage.