If lively hamsters could drive cars, they’d surely be happy in a Soul, as they were in Kia’s TV commercials when this likable little crossover first appeared. The Soul is one of the few contemporary vehicles that’s readily recognizable from afar, and its unconventional design yields a spacious interior. A friendly, youthful persona also helps in this entry-level crossover category, though plenty of older folks have fallen for the Soul’s practical qualities, as well as its quirky appearance.
What's new for 2017
A new turbocharged 1.6-liter engine goes under the hood of the Exclaim edition, giving the Soul a new level of sporty flavor. Instead of a conventional automatic, the Exclaim Turbo gets a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Choosing Your Kia Soul
All Souls have front-wheel drive, ample room for five, and 18.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the backseat. Subcompact on the outside, the Soul offers the interior space of a compact.
Each trim level now gets its own engine. In the Base Soul, a direct-injected 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine develops 130 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque. That base engine mates with either a six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic transmission. The Soul Plus holds a 2-liter engine rated 161 horsepower and 150 pound-feet, coupled with a six-speed automatic transmission. In the Exclaim model, the new 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder develops 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque, mated with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Fuel economy is estimated at 24 mpg city/30 mpg highway with the smaller base engine, while the 2-liter manages 25 mpg in city driving. Thriftiest is the Exclaim turbo, estimated at 26/31 mpg (city/highway). All Soul models comes with adjustable steering assist.
The Soul comes in three trim levels: Base, Plus, and Exclaim:
In basic form, each Soul ranks as an affordable, distinctive little crossover. However, buyers get quite a selection of option packages to choose from, priced from $500 to $4,000. Unless you’re really enthused about some of those additional features, the mid-range Plus trim will probably provide all you need. For thrift-minded buyers, the base Soul, perhaps with automatic, should be wholly satisfactory. The turbocharged Exclaim should attract more sport-minded Soul operators.