The second-generation Kia Soul was introduced for the 2014 model year, which means it will still be a few more years before Kia will present the third-generation of the Soul. So to keep consumers interested, it is only natural that Kia gives the current generation a facelift to keep things fresh. It looks like we may be seeing that facelift sooner than later, as we have just received some new spy shots of what appears to be the facelifted model out for on-road testing.

As is the story with all spy shots from the early testing stage, the soul is under pretty heavy camouflage. The hood, bumper, and the rear hatch are all covered with black fabric and padded to help conceal the actual design. That does, however, provide us with an idea of what we can expect to be different when the facelifted Soul hits the showroom floor.

Since we can’t make out a whole lot under that heavy padding and camo, most of this early review will be speculation. So, with that in mind, let’s take a gander at what we can make out from the spy shots.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Kia Soul.

Spy Shots

January 19, 2016 - First testing session

2018 Kia Soul High Resolution Exterior Spyshots
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2018 Kia Soul High Resolution Exterior Spyshots
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2018 Kia Soul High Resolution Exterior Spyshots
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Exterior

The front of the Soul is camouflaged just as intensively as the rear, indicating that we should see some design changes here. It looks like the fog lights may sit a little higher, and a bit more to the outside than on the current model. As for that low-sitting radiator grille, I have a mixed opinion on what is going on here. It looks like, based on the camo, that grille may have a horizontal split in the middle. If that is the case, that grille could be shaped differently as well. As far as the headlights, I have a feeling that there will be some minor changes to the overall shape, but the camo is so heavy at this point that we simply cannot tell.

Those fake air vents from the current model also look to be a thing of the past, as they don’t appear to exist in the model shown in the spy shots.

The side fenders are heavily padded as well, but it looks like the front wheel arches will be significantly toned down. Those fake air vents from the current model also look to be a thing of the past, as they don’t appear to exist in the model shown in the spy shots. The side view mirrors look to be a bit taller, but carry the same structural design. The rear passenger windows appear to be the same shape and size, but the window between the rear door and the hatch will probably have a different shape. Based on the padding in the spy shots, I’m guessing it will probably be larger toward the bottom and may come to more of a point toward the rear taillights.

To the rear, it is hard to make out much thanks to all of the padding, but it looks like the taillights will retain a similar design. Not much can be said for the hatch itself – there appears to be about three inches of padding over most of it, but down below we can spot some change to the rear fascia. On the current model, that body line on the fascia slants toward the corners and wraps around the corner reflectors. In the spy shots, it looks like that body line has changed dramatically, with the body line running parallel with the bottom of the hatch and smoothly wraps around those rear reflectors. Furthermore, it looks like those reflectors may sit a little higher on the fascia than they do on the current model. As far as wheels go, the model captured in the spy shots is riding on the same wheels as offer standard on the current Soul.

Interior

2014 Kia Soul Interior
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Note: current Kia Soul pictured here.

Right now the interior is about as big as a mystery as the body panels hidden under all that paneling on the exterior. I expect to see roughly the same as far as design characteristics go. Expect to see the same dash and center console, and that instrument cluster will still make use of a 4.3-inch TFT display. Moving to the center stack, I suspect the same infotainment systems, but the screen may be upped by an inch. If so, expect to see the bezel surrounding the screen and climate controls to change a bit.

Otherwise, the current Soul’s interior is rather smooth, and I expect it to stay that way. The simplistic center console, smooth lid on the console’s storage bin and even the seats will all remain the same. The seats may change a little, but I wouldn’t expect much. If those rear, side windows do take on a different shape, the interior paneling to the rear will also change a bit to accommodate the larger area. If nothing else, the larger glass would help to get rid of that blind spot on the rear corners.

Drivetrain

2018 Kia Soul High Resolution Exterior Spyshots
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The current Soul is offered in three different trim levels. The base model comes equipped with a 1.6-liter engine that produces 120 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque. The mid and range-topping trims came with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that puts out 164 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. The latter comes with a six-speed automatic transmission, while that remains an option to the six-speed manual in the base model.

I suspect that when the Kia soul is replaced by a whole new design, it will likely debut with at least one new engine and an updated transmission. With that said, I don’t think any extensive changes will be made to the Soul for this facelift. I do think, however, that the engines may be tuned to deliver a little more power and torque, as well as slightly better fuel economy. Until we get the juicy details from Kia, however, that’s the best we’ve got.

Prices

We have no idea on pricing yet, but I wouldn’t expect the prices to change much with the Soul’s facelift. If certain equipment is updated, the starting price may jump up by a few hundred bucks, but nothing significant. The current model starts out at $15,190. Moving up to the "+" trim level takes that price up to $18,690. The range-topping “!” trim is invoiced at $20,790 before options, destination, and taxes.

Competition

Chevrolet Trax

2015 Chevrolet Trax High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The Chevy Trax hit Canada and other markets, as early as the 2013 model year, but didn’t become available for purchase in the U.S. until 2015. With an overall length of 168.5 inches, the Trax is a little longer than the current soul, but for the most part, it fits the bill as a competitor to the soul. Considering the Trax hit the market in 2015, it should be due for a facelift right around the time the soul debuts with its facelift.

In current form, the Trax comes in three trim levels, all of which come with a turbocharged 1.4-liter engine that puts out 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. Those figures put it right in the middle of the base-model Soul and the two higher trim levels. On the price front, the current Trax comes in at $21,800 in LS form, $24,145 in LT form and $26,730 for the range-topping LTZ trim. Those figures should remain about the same when the Trax goes under the knife for its mid-generational facelift.

Read our full review on the Chevrolet Trax here.

Honda HR-V

2016 - 2017 Honda HR-V High Resolution Exterior
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The Honda HR-V has been sold in Japan as the Vezel since 2013. For the 2016 model year, Honda decided a model placed below the CR-V was a good idea, so it rebadged the Vezel with the HR-V badge and starting selling it on U.S. shores for the 2016 model year. The HR-V is a pretty new design in the U.S. market, so chances are it will see few changes between now and the time that the facelifted Soul debuts. In current form, the HR-V is available in three trim levels: LX, EX, and EX-L Navi. Regardless of trim, the HR-V is powered by a 1.8-liter, i-VTEC, four-cylinder engine that puts out 141 horsepower.

Like the Trax, the HR-V is a bit longer, measuring 169.1 inches long. Even so, it’s still small enough to compete against the Soul now and when the facelifted model debuts. Currently, the HR-V is priced at $19,215 in base form, but that price increases to as high as $24,690 before options, if you go for the EX-L Navi. I expect pricing for the HR-V to be about the same when the facelifted soul hits showrooms.

Read our full review on the Honda HR-V here.

Conclusion

2018 Kia Soul High Resolution Exterior Spyshots
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With the current model debuting just a couple years ago, it’s good that Kia is looking to make some changes. At this point, however, I think Kia might have been better off holding back on the facelift and introducing a completely new design – something that departs more from the original design – instead. Perhaps I’m just not that big a fan of “mini-SUVs.” I mean, when you really think about it, what is the point of having almost no cargo space when the rear seats are in the upright position.

To me, it’s not as bad as the Honda Element, the infamous toaster on wheels, but it isn’t far off. I guess at least the soul has a few more curves to it. At the end of the day, there is a lot of competition out there for this small Crossover, so Kia is probably doing right by keeping it fresh. I just think an all new design would do the Soul some justice.

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    • * Highly camouflaged
    • * No view of the interior
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