Home / Car News / Bucking The Trend Of Ever More Expensive Cars, The Updated Kia Soul Cuts Its Most Expensive Trim

Bucking The Trend Of Ever More Expensive Cars, The Updated Kia Soul Cuts Its Most Expensive Trim

2023 kia Soul

Kia updates the Soul, Carvana’s set to blur the lines between retail and wholesale, Stellantis makes plans in Ontario. All this on today’s edition of The Morning Dump.

Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.

Soul Glo

2023 kia Soul
Photo credit: Kia

It’s been three years since the third-generation Kia Soul debuted which means it’s time for a mid-cycle refresh. A bit of new styling, some trim level re-jigging and some tech downloading will go a long way toward satiating hamsters, and it looks like Kia’s happy to oblige. On the outside, the new Soul is good news for split-headlamp haters everywhere. The main lamp units mid-way down the front bumper have been banished in favor of expanded traditional lamps conjoined by a fake grille. Honestly, this really feels like the move. The new front fascia looks brighter, cleaner and stronger with a large lower grille and a bit of metallic trim doing all the talking.

In terms of other styling updates, the taillights and rear bumper have been revised, and the GT-Line features a comically oversized, USB Micro-B connector-shaped center-mount exhaust tip, but otherwise it’s the same familiar tune. Perhaps Party Rock Anthem. Really, the other big exterior news is the addition of a positively wonderful Surf Blue color that’s bright, optimistic and fun.

2023 kia Soul
Photo credit: Kia

Granted, some minor cuts have been made along with the Soul’s facelift. The cladded-up X-Line model has been taken behind the woodshed and shot, presumably because the Seltos does the fake-capability thing better and can be had with all-wheel-drive. Let’s be honest, nobody is going to miss the Soul X-Line. Nobody has ever looked at a small hatchback and thought, “Do you know, I reckon this would look better with big slabs of unpainted plastic around its wheel arches.” What some people will miss is the plucky Turbo model, a pleasant warm tall hatchback with a very reasonably 201 horsepower from its 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Still, economy is the word of the day, and a two-liter port-injected four-cylinder engine hitched to a continuously variable transmissions sees EPA combined fuel economy of 30 to 31 mpg (7.84 to 7.6 L/100km).

Fortunately, many features from the discontinued Turbo trim filter their way down the lineup, sometimes unexpectedly far. All trims but the base LX trim get a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system with native navigation along with a smart keyless entry system, pretty nice touches for a small hatchback. Perhaps nicer still is the fact that all models now get a digital gauge cluster that looks pretty slick and easy-to-read. Otherwise, not much has changed inside the Soul. The funky speaker-shaped air vents still sit proudly on the dashboard, almost everything seems to be controlled by a proper button or knob, and headroom is still superb. Pricing for the 2023 Kia Soul hasn’t been announced yet, but I’d be surprised if it strayed too far from the current car’s entry point in the low $20,000 range. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how pricing looks closer to the new Soul’s on-sale date this summer.

Carvana Blurs The Lines Between Wholesale And Retail

Carvana Vending Machine
Photo credit: Carvana

Normally, there’s expected to be a level of separation between wholesale used car auctions and used car dealers. According to Automotive News, that’s about to change. Used car vending machine company and dropper of Genesis Coupes Carvana is set to acquire used car wholesale auction company ADESA this week, and I have a bad feeling about it.

While wholesale auction and digital service company KAR Global will reduce its debt with a sale of ADESA, an acquisition by a used car retailer brings about a whole host of other issues. See, ADESA is the second-largest wholesale used car auction house in the country, with 351,000 vehicles sold through its facilities in the first quarter of 2022. Imagine for a second that one retailer could get their pick of the pack each quarter and force other dealers to fight for less well-kept vehicles. Slightly unpalatable, yeah?

Additionally, there’s the matter of whether or not Carvana will survive in the long run. According to Forbes, the used car retailer has been burning through monstrous amount of cash, with a significant chunk of incoming cash arriving by way of packaging securities. In addition, Moody’s downgraded Carvana’s debt rating on April 25, citing the retailer’s weak credit, lack of profit and a huge burn rate. Whatever the outcome of Carvana’s ADESA acquisition bay be, it doesn’t exactly seem rosy from where I’m standing.

Stellantis Invests In Canada

Stellantis Plant Announcement
Photo credit: Stellantis

My home province of Ontario has a long history of vehicle manufacturing with triumph, hardship, pride and loss all in equal measure. While we’ve made some brilliant stuff like the current Ford GT, the Dodge Challenger Demon, the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and the Acura CSX Type-S, we’ve also lost a lot of production. We lost Ford’s Ontario Truck plant in Oakville in 2004, we lost GM’s Oshawa Truck Assembly plant in 2009, we lost Ford’s St. Thomas Assembly plant in 2011 and we almost lost GM’s Oshawa Car Assembly plant in 2019. So when a major automaker announces a massive investment in Ontario, it’s worth at least a glance. Especially when Automotive News is reporting that these investments may total up to $2.8 billion.

The Windsor assembly plant where the Chrysler Pacifica, Chrysler Voyager and Chrysler Grand Caravan minivans are built is getting a $1.1 billion re-tooling that Stellantis says will “diversify the company’s capacity by introducing battery-electric or hybrid models to the production line to meet growing consumer demand for low-emission vehicles.” Stellantis already introduced a hybrid model, the Pacifica plug-in hybrid minivan, to the Windsor assembly line back in 2016, so let’s hope this announcement signals the addition of electric vehicle production or another vehicle to the Windsor assembly line.

More importantly, the Dodge Charger, Dodge Challenger and Chrysler 300 are getting a bit long in the tooth, so Stellantis also has a plan for its Brampton Assembly Plant. The plant in Brampton is getting a flexible assembly line that can produce both hybrids and electric vehicles, fairly critical stuff considering that a hard cut to EVs will leave some customers out in the cold. Hey, if it means even one less straight-piped V6 Charger out on the roads, I’m all for it. As an added bonus, Stellantis is committing to two research and development centers in Windsor for electric vehicles and battery tech. Nice.

Combined with a $3.96 billion battery manufacturing facility in Windsor, it really looks like the imminent future of Canadian-produced EVs lies in the hands of Stellantis. Honestly, I’m here for it. It’s not really a matter of national pride either, as national pride is a very foolish thing and it’s not like Canadians can screw a car together better than anyone else. When I see a vehicle with a VIN that starts with a 2, I can’t help but feel stoked that people living just down the road from me had a hand in that vehicle’s assembly, and that they have well-paying, possibly unionized jobs. Employment stability is a beautiful thing.

The Flush

Whelp, time to drop the lid on this issue of The Morning Dump. As for the big question of the day, I’d love to know what your nearest automotive assembly plant is and what they make. My nearest plant is Multimatic’s assembly plant where the final few Ford GTs are in the works. While the second-generation Ford GT definitely isn’t as awe-inspiring as the last one, it still feels pretty cool that they build it just up the road from me.

Lead photo credit: Kia

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58 Responses

  1. Closest to where I live is Mercedes Benz in North Charleston where they make the Sprinter. Closest to work is….my work. I work at the Volvo Plant in Ridgeville (about 30 miles west of Charleston). Here we current make the S60 but are launching new BEV models soon.

  2. The closest auto factory to me is the Chicago Ford plant where they make Explorers. It’s less than 20 miles from where I work. Also, L/100km is how metric countries express fuel efficiency? I would think they would use km/L.

    1. When Oz converted to metric I found it weird that the fuel consumption was measured that way, I still used mpg for years until I got a car that only had kms on the odometer.

    2. L/100km (or G/100mi) is a better way to express fuel efficiency because it’s linear. A .2 L/100km improvement in fuel economy is the same no matter what you were starting at. A 5 mpg change is much less significant if you were starting at 50 mpg than if you were starting at 20. It makes mpg ratings much less intuitive.

      The only real objection I have to it is that L/100km is much more awkward to say/type than MPG.

  3. nearly all the US plants are in the South now, so that the companies can be sure of state tax breaks and a cheap !
    terrorized compliant non-unionized workforce..

    Closest to me is the Kansas Fairfax GM plant, unionized amazingly, where they make the Cadillac CT4 and Malibu. I like both those cars, hm.

    Drove a Chrysler Voyager as a rental last weekend, it was surprisingly pleasant. I was tempted but my next car will be a hybrid..

      1. I have a friend who bought her first one in her early 40’s. She then convinced her sister to buy one. Now their mother owns one. It’s big enough to do what they need with it and tall enough to get in and out of with no problems. It really is the perfect vehicle for people without the need to haul kids around in. I’m just amused by all the hip-hop hamster commercials.

    1. I knew a Kia saleswoman who said the only people who looked at Souls were 17 year old girls and 71 year old women.

      But they actually are the perfect elderly person car. Small enough that they’re good on gas and easy to park, space efficient and square enough to easily fit a walker upright in the back, excellent hip point so they’re very easy to get in and out.

    2. It may be apocryphal, but I recall one of the reasons the Scion xB was ultimately killed was because it wasn’t attracting the right buyers to the brand. Kia was all too happy to supply that niche in the market. A friend had a Kia Soul for years. Highly functional automotive appliance. Pity it got totaled in an accident (cause by someone else).

    3. They knew that just like the Scion xB, Honda Element and the PT Loser and HHR that a good portion of their buyers would be old folks looking for something cheap, practical and easy to get in to. The Ford Maverick is/will be the same way.

      But, I wouldn’t ever expect them to market it towards the AARP crowd. It’s easier to sell an old person a young person’s car than it is to sell a young person an old person’s car.

      1. I assume you mean the same, but for men. I could see the main demos being early 20s guys who need a cheap compact truck with a ~400/mo payment, and old timers who can afford more, but just want to haul shit from Home Depot every now and then, but want something new and maintenance free v. an eight year old F150 for about the same money.

    4. Can confirm my mother, who has some but not what I’d consider a lot of car opinions, vocally wanted a Soul for quite a long time, when she did a lot of driving for work. I rented a first gen once and it was fine, but I was struck by how it felt like a much bigger car than it was, which I didn’t particularly like.

  4. My closest manufacturing facility is Rivian, in the old DSM plant.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about Carvana getting the pick of the litter. They can only keep them out of the auction via an accepted offer, which they can already do now.

    They also have to balance the drop off in the auction business if it becomes an expectation that they only sell unwanted crap. That costs them in the long run.

  5. I used to work basically across the street from the GM truck assembly plant in Fort Wayne, IN. Every once in a while you’d see a Silverado or Sierra with shipping tape on the corners driving between parts of the campus there, but honestly besides that it was just a big brown building that had a bunch of traffic when shifts changed.

  6. Closest plant to where I live is the Volvo factory in Ridgeville, SC. They make the S60 and XC90, with Polestar production coming soon.

    Closest to where I work is the Mercedes Benz Vans factory in Ladson, SC that makes Sprinters. Of course, Boeing is even closer if we are counting planes….

    I grew up north of Pittsburgh in a former industrial manufacturing hub, and it’s interesting to see what a bustling place that probably was now that there is so much manufacturing here.

  7. Kia dropped the awesome Alien Green on the Soul. I mean COME ON, that’s the car’s signature color, Kia Soul Green! 😛

    They have a dark green, which is ok, but still not as cool as the bright alien green they had before.

    Too bad they also got rid of the big awesome panoramic sunroof with the new generation.

  8. So the tiger nose is now a tiger mouth? I ain’t even mad bro. I’ve got the OG giant tiger nose on my ’14 Cadenza. Of course, the ‘denza is sized similar to an E-class and needed the big grill, but seeing Kia make the oversize face on a compact vehicle is pretty awesome.

  9. Well, in Janesville there used to be a GM plant, not sure where the closest plant is now.
    On the other hand, my ’02 Tahoe was built there, so it’s nice keeping that going. I hope it’s feeling aren’t hurt too much every time I drive past the empty lot.

    1. Probably the Ford plant in Chicago.

      Chicago Assembly (sometimes referred to as Torrence Avenue Assembly) is currently Ford Motor Company’s oldest continuously operated automobile manufacturing plant. It is located at E. 130th Street and Torrence Avenue in the Hegewisch section of Chicago, Illinois. Chicago Assembly currently builds the sixth-generation Ford Explorer and the second-generation Lincoln Aviator.

      As for me, it’s the trifecta of Toyota, Tesla, and GM where I live for now…

  10. I believe the closest to me is the Nissan plant in Canton, Ms.

    Carvana is like a slow motion train wreck.

    Kia dropping the manual and Turbo models is terrible. The X-line was perhaps the most ridiculous and useless package offered by anyone today, no surprise people weren’t lining up to buy such a blatant poser machine. Who do they think they are? Toyota?

  11. Nearly every EcoBoost in North America is made about 10 minutes from my house.
    Pretty much every single one of GM’s stamped and welded assemblies from bodies to parts are 10 minutes the other direction.
    Ford’s other EcoBoosts are made about 30 minutes away.

    Kia needs to stop fussing with their lineup. Look, the cars are largely fine to excellent. Every penny they have should be being spent on fixing their engines and un-fucking their “dealer” network. I have never, ever succeeded in finding anyone who has said ‘boy, I love my Kia dealer.’ But boy howdy do they have no end of horror stories and more than a few lawsuits.
    They are universally reviled for a reason, with ethics and practices that would make even some BHPH lots blush. I was interested in the Stinger GT when it came out, so I went to the dealer. Said I want to look at that Stinger GT over there. “OK, let me get you a credit application.” No, I am not buying till I look at it, and I’d be bringing my own loan. “No test drives without a credit application!” I just pulled up in a car with vanity plates that has a base sticker higher than a maxed out Stinger. You don’t want to spend test drive time because I’m not buying today, I’m with you. I just want you to unlock the car so I can look around inside. “Nope, no test drives without a credit application, get lost.”
    I should mention that said dealership has averaged more than a dozen lawsuits per year, on average, and that’s just scratching the surface. They’re so notorious that there are local attorneys basically running “screwed by (dealer)? We can help!” ads. Their Hyundai branch is no better. And the service departments are even worse – first oil change and they’ll refuse to release the car unless you “fix” some “unsafe” thing like replacing all 4 tires because there’s a nail dead center of the tread in one of them.

    Know what Hyundai corporate response has been? You guessed it – crickets. And the competition? They’re no different. “Here’s a credit application, or get lost.” Which is why the K900/K9 never sold, of that I have no doubt. They’re genuinely excellent cars, very well put together with quality materials, and a $60,000+ price tag new. And they could justify it.
    But guess what? People who can afford a $60,000+ car are not going to put up with being treated like “the poors” they imagine they aren’t. They’re just going to walk right out and go lease a Mercedes-Benz C-class down the street where they get free lattes and frappucinos from the in-house coffee bar. (No, seriously. The new owner takes the idea of above and beyond customer service to extremes. Would you like a complimentary scone while they detail your interior?)

    And people have been telling Kia/Hyundai this same fucking story for 10+ years at this point. I’m not even remotely the first, I certainly won’t be the last. They have a great lineup in Kia/Hyundai/Genesis, they mostly have their shit together in the styling and quality departments, so why is their dealer network still so universally atrocious often to the point of being actually criminal?
    Yes, the new Soul is a good car. But so was the old Soul. (And it was better when you could get it in a manual.) The price point is perfect for the car. The only real change it needs is making the paint colors available on more than one trim. But instead they’ve blown over $2B on fighting and losing to the NHTSA, and yet another unnecessary redesign insisting that it’s the styling keeping them from building any market share or brand loyalty.

    1. I have been to a Kia dealer and it wasn’t too bad. The sales dude even let me take a Stinger out for a spin. However, I may have been treated a bit better because I was buying a company vehicle for cash. In the end Toyota gave me a better deal on a Rav 4 and the guy it was for liked the Toyota better anyway.

      1. It’s probable – hell, even likely – that there are some good apples out there. But you’re also right. Company vehicle, cash or not, B2B is almost always an entirely different department from retail sales. Totally different policies, because you could be dozens of cars and tens of thousands of dollars a month in revenue. It’s just chasing the money.

  12. “Nobody has ever looked at a small hatchback and thought, ‘Do you know, I reckon this would look better with big slabs of unpainted plastic around its wheel arches.'”

    Subaru Impreza and Crosstrek would like a word, sir.

  13. The closest manufacturing plant to me is the Toyota factory south of San Antonio where they make the Tundra. there is also a GM truck plant in Arlington where I think they make primarily Tahoes, but its a little farther from the Houston metroplex.

  14. Interesting to compare Autopian’s take on the Soul to Jello Picnic’s. They’re all doom and gloom about the lost Turbo, Autopian is, “Hey, it’s budget-crossover that’s staying budget and the redesign looks great!”

  15. As far as current assembly plants go, I’m also in Toronto, so it’s also FCA Brampton for me (barely closer in driving distance than either Ford Oakville or Multimatic up in Markham though), and if we count OEM parts plants, FCA’s got a casting plant in south Etobicoke.

    But since you didn’t clarify *current* facilities, I’m walking distance from what’s left of the Russell Motor Car Company factory (a CCM subsidiary, the people of the skates and also the name slapped on crappy Canadian Tire bikes after decades of building fairly solid bicycles).

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