By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com

Remember the peculiar Scion xB? Well, that one’s been gone since 2016. Or the peculiar-looking Nissan Cube? It’s been history for as long. Also, a thing (or ride) of the past is the funky Honda Element. Amid these vehicle reductions, the boxy Kia Soul has continued to trudge along toward respectable annual sales numbers.

Nowhere on the road will you miss the unconventional, tall and trendy look of the subcompact hatchback. Indeed, it has turned out to be one of the turnaround vehicles for the Korean carmaker. For 2023, the 1.6-liter turbo is no longer offered. But the 2.0-liter inline-4 cylinder puts out a comfortable 147 horsepower @ 6200 rpm and 132 pounds-feet of torque @ 4500 rpm. A seamless continuously variable transmission is standard. Normal and sport modes are at the driver’s fingertips.

Our front-wheel-drive Soul was GT-Line-inspired as in a gloss black/chrome-accented radiator grille, front/rear bumper, chrome-tipped center exhaust and body-color with silver accent side sills. Step inside the roomy cabin and you are greeted with a digital instrument cluster showing speedometer, tachometer, trip computer and other readings. However, it is the huge 10.25-inch infotainment touch screen for navigation, radio and vehicle that will draw attention. The two-tone gray and black cloth/SynTex seats are cushy. Other standard goodies include dual auto a/c, 60/40-split fold rear seat, flat-bottomed tilt/telescopic steering column, remote keyless entry, push-button start, six-way adjustable driver’s seat, power windows and door locks.

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for both rows, four-wheel antilock brakes, vehicle stability and traction control, rearview camera, forward-collision, blind-spot and rear-cross traffic collision/avoidance assists, lane keep, lane-follow and hill-start assists, front seatbelts pretensioners, front/rear crumple zones, side impact door beams and tire pressure monitoring come at no extra cost.

Base-priced at just $23,390, the attention-grabber Soul is a heck of a deal. With gas prices nearing almost $4 a gallon, it’s a bigger draw than before. We averaged almost 30 mpg in a mix of city and highway driving. And at the same time, the hatchback delivers a decent amount of power to result in a relaxed and classy ride. Plus, the unusual-looking Soul comes with a 10-year or 100,000-mile power train and a five-year or 60,000-mile basic warranties, as well as a five-year, 60,000-mile roadside assistance. Now, that’s a tough act to beat!


Tires: 235/45R18

Wheelbase: 102.4 inches

Length: 165.2 inches

Width: 70.9 inches

Height: 63 inches

Weight: 2,998 pounds

Suspension: MacPherson strut front, torsion beam rear

Steering: motor-driven power

Fuel capacity: 14.3 gallons

City: 28 mpg

Highway: 33 mpg

Price as tested: $24,820

Web site: www.kia.com