2010-2013 Kia Soul
2010 • 2011 • 2012 • 2013
Jon Paulette is a veteran automotive writer who has spent a fair portion of his life hanging out at racetracks and talking to amazing people who make extremely loud cars reach ridiculous speeds. Despite all that, he still has enough hearing left to enjoy a stupidly large music collection. A native Virginian, Jon lives in the Charlottesville area, roots for the Nationals and would like a good BBQ sandwich right about now.
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The 2010 Kia Soul Sport (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Kia built its reputation on unremarkable cars that came with remarkable warranties. They weren't cool, they weren't stylish and they weren't fun, but they gave you pretty good bang for the buck. Kia has obviously been working hard to change that, and the Soul is just one example of how far they've come. It's a nifty, fun-to-drive little box with a style all its own — and yes, you still get that remarkable Kia warranty.
The Soul was available with two stock stereo systems:
- the Standard system, with an AM/FM in-dash receiver/CD player with an input for an MP3 player. The base model had four speakers, the + model (It gets weirder, see below....) added two more.
- the Premium system, optional on the ! model (We kid you not.) and standard on the Sport model (Ahhh, that's more like it....), added a center speaker, a sub, and an outboard amp. The ! and Sport could also be equipped with steering wheel-mounted audio controls.
You can replace all or part of either system with a reasonable amount of effort. Single- (2" tall) or double-DIN (4" tall) receivers will work just fine and steering wheel audio control adapters are available.
Replacing your factory radio
The Kia Soul's factory radio (Crutchfield Research Photo)
With roughly 7" of usable space behind the dash, the Soul's dash can accomodate just about any aftermarket receiver. Due to the location of the HVAC controls, fold-down face receivers are not on that list, but you'll still have a wide selection of great receivers to choose from.
Installing an aftermarket receiver in your Kia isn't an impossible task, but it does require a fair amount of skill and know-how. The clips that hold the dash panel in place are extremely tight, so you may have to use considerable force to remove the panel. You’ll also have to be careful and patient when you're doing this, as the combination of tight plastic and a pry tool can lead to massive (i.e., "expensive") cosmetic damage.
The Soul’s disassembled dash, ready for a new receiver (Crutchfield Research Photo)
You'll need a mounting kit to trim out the new radio, a wiring harness that allows you to connect your new radio without having to cut the factory wiring, and an adapter that connects the Kia antenna to your new radio. These installation parts are available at a deep discount with most Crutchfield stereo orders, along with our step-by-step MasterSheet™ instructions for your Soul.
The bad news? You'll lose your factory satellite radio capability if you replace the factory radio. If you want to keep enjoying SiriusXM programming, look for an aftermarket stereo that is satellite radio-ready. Thankfully, there are plenty to choose from.
The great news? You won’t lose the Kia’s pulsating speaker lights when the factory radio is removed.
The factory amp, located in the right rear side panel (Crutchfield Research Photo)
The installation process is much the same with this system, but you have the addition of the factory amp, located behind the right rear side panel. The easy route is to tie your new car stereo into the Kia amp, and it’s a good way to go. The Crutchfield wiring harness will take care of this.
By using the factory amp, you’ll get an improvement in sound quality and performance from your system with a new stereo, plus you keep the 8" subwoofer and the 4" center speaker operating. Otherwise, you’ll have to run new speaker wire from the new receiver to all your speakers. That's not a whole lot of fun.
Tools required: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver
Steering wheel audio controls
It's relatively easy to retain the steering wheel audio controls when you install a new stereo in your Soul. When you enter your vehicle information, our database will choose the adapter you need to make your factory steering wheel controls work with your new receiver.
Replacing your factory speakers
The Soul’s front door (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Front doors: The factory front speakers, mounted in the doors, are slightly undersized 6-3/4" speakers in a bracket. You can upgrade to 6-1/2" or 5-1/4" speakers with the help of an adapter bracket (free from Crutchfield), but you’ll have to do a little work.
Front door with panel removed (Crutchfield Research Photo)
In order to access the speakers, you have to remove the door panel. You'll need to remove several screws and covers before removing the panel. The door panel is plastic, of course, so use caution when removing both the screw covers and the screws themselves.
With the panel removed, you'll have to drill out the rivets that hold the factory speaker in place, so make sure you have the right tool for that job. You'll also want to work carefully and, of course, wear eye protection when drilling.
Once the door panel and factory speaker are out of the way, you'll need to drill new screw holes to mount the aftermarket speaker bracket to the door. Use your free speaker adapter bracket to mark the spots for your pilot holes, then drill new holes, mount the adapter and mount your new speaker. The factory speaker grilles on the door panel will fit perfectly over the new speakers.
Mounting the adapter bracket in the Soul’s front door (Crutchfield Research Photo)
The 2-ohm factory speakers really aren't bad at all, so if you're going to go to the trouble of doing all that work, we humbly suggest that you spend a little more money and get the most bang for your buck — and your busted knuckles.
Tools required: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver, small flat blade screwdriver, drill plus 1/8" and 5/32" drill bits
Front tweeters: The Soul's 1-1/2" tweeters are mounted up front, on the corners of the dash. To remove them, the corner dash grilles and the outer dash vent assemblies must be removed. This isn't hard, but again, we recommend care and caution during the process.
As on the doors, the clips are extremely tight and may require considerable force to remove. When you're prying them off, remember that brute force can result in cosmetic damage. You’ll have to make a new mounting bracket or spacer to install your new tweeters. A wiring harness is not available, so you'll have to cut off the factory connectors and splice the vehicle's speaker wires to your new speaker wires.
Tools required: panel tool, Phillips screwdriver
Rear door with panel removed (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Rear doors: The factory rear speaker is a slightly undersized 6-3/4" speaker in a bracket. You can install 6-1/2" or 5-1/4" speakers in the rear doors with the help of a mounting bracket, but you'll have to remove the door panel to access the speakers.
This process is similar to the removal of the front door panels, and the same notes of care and caution apply. Be patient, be calm and take good care of the panels when you're prying them loose.
Look at the bright side: if "fit and finish" were Kia problems in the past, those problems have been solved.
The rear factory speaker (Crutchfield Research Photo)
You'll need to drill out rivets to remove the factory speaker, then drill new screw holes to mount the aftermarket speaker bracket to the door. A speaker adapter bracket is required, and it's included free with your Crutchfield speaker purchase, along with the wiring harness. The factory speaker grilles will work with your new rear speakers.
Tools required: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver, small flat blade screwdriver, drill plus 1/8" and 5/32" drill bits
The Premium system, available on the ! and the Sport models, adds a center speaker, a subwoofer, and an outboard amp. The system boasts 8 speakers and 315 watts. You’ll find an extra plug on the 7303 harness (used to connect your new stereo to the Kia’s factory plug) that turns on the amp. Removing the speakers in the front and rear doors is the same as the base system. If you’re keeping the factory amp, you’ll want to pick aftermarket speakers with a lower impedance, like Infinity or JBL, or you’ll hear a noticeable drop in volume level.
Replacing the factory center speaker: Surprisingly enough, this speaker is actually somewhat easy to remove and replace. The stock unit is a 4" speaker, but there's limited space available in terms of mounting height (how tall the speaker can be before it bumps into the factory grille). The center dash grille must be removed in order to access this location. As usual, the clips are tight and extreme care should be used when removing the plastic bits.
The factory center speaker (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Again, Kia uses a 2-ohm speaker, so pick a low-impedance aftermarket speaker or you’ll hear a big drop in volume from the factory amp. Since it’s tough to find a good single 4" speaker, you might want to hold off on replacing this speaker until you’ve replaced the front tweeters and door speakers.
Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver
Adding bass in your Soul
The factory subwoofer is an 8" dual voice coil unit tucked away in a place that makes removing and replacing it a job for pros, semi-pros, wildly-optimistic amateurs, or serious masochists. It's also not that bad a sub, so if you're going to tackle this project, you might want to go with a top-shelf subwoofer that's worth the effort.
You’ll have to remove the far rear side panel to access the speaker location. Once you've done that, you'll note that the factory bolt pattern uses four holes of the aftermarket standard 8-hole bolt pattern, but the cutout is smaller than most aftermarket 8" subwoofers. You’ll need to cut metal to install just about any aftermarket 8" sub, and you’ll have to pick a sub with dual 4-ohm voice coils. Like we said, the factory unit isn't that bad.
Tools required: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver, 10mm & 14mm SRE, good grades in shop class.
The Soul's sub (Crutchfield Research Photo)
If that sounds a bit daunting (and it should), there’s another way to put major-league bass in your Soul. JL Audio offers a Stealthbox® custom-fit subwoofer with a 12" sub that delivers incredible bass. The package installs beneath the cargo area floor, blending in with your Kia's interior. Installation requires removal of the Styrofoam cargo organizer and relocation of the spare tire to the passenger's side of the hatch using the fixture provided. Unless you have extensive experience installing car audio gear, you might want to have a car audio professional handle this job.
JL Audio Stealthbox (JL Audio photo)
The Stealthbox is the most elegant solution for adding bass, but not the only one. If you don't mind giving up a little storage space in the rear area, there's plenty of room for a powered subwoofer.
JL Audio StealthMod®: If you're looking for an all-in-one solution, JL Audio has put together a complete upgrade package designed specifically for the Soul. The StealthMod Audio Upgrade consists of a Stealthbox® custom-fit sub, an amp, replacement speakers, and all the cables and hardware you'll need -- precut and made to fit your car. JL Audio even provides illustrated installation instructions and detailed directions for setting up your new system. That said, this is a very challenging installation. Unless you have extensive car audio experience, it's best to have this system installed by a professional.
There are plenty of ways to make your Soul a nicer place to hang out. Here are a couple of suggestions:
Digital Signal Processor
If you want better sound, but don't want to modify your car, Helix offers another option for Kias that aren't equipped with a factory amp. Their PP50DSP processor is an easy way to make a dramatic improvement in the sound of your factory system. It works like this: you buy the processor, along with a vehicle-specific cable and a plug-in powered sub. The cable plugs into your factory radio's plug, connecting the processor/amp to your factory speakers. Next, go to Helix's site, download your vehicle’s audio parameters onto a microSD card, then load that info into the amp/processor. The PP50DSP will use equalization and time alignment to make your factory speakers sound great. Add in the bass from the optional Helix sub, and you've got a total system upgrade with minimal work.
Installing a security system in your Soul isn't easy (security systems rarely are), but it's definitely a good idea. Our Crutchfield Advisors can help figure out what you need to get the job done, but we usually recommend taking your car and new gear to a professional installer.