After years of teasing a sporty version of its popular Soul, Kia has finally delivered with the new 2017 Soul Turbo. But will a dose of enthusiasm keep customers interested in this aging-but-still-popular box on wheels?

Pricing and Equipment

Whether you consider it a large hatchback or a small crossover, there is no arguing the Soul does its thing inexpensively, thanks to its $18,595 starting price. Because it’s target audience is younger buyers just looking for inexpensive transportation, this base trim is sure to be the most popular. It comes standard with:

  • Sixteen-inch alloy wheels
  • Cloth upholstery
  • Tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel
  • Split-folding rear seat
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Six-speak stereo system with satellite radio

For buyers who prefer the latest and greatest or are looking for more pep, there is the $23,695 Exclaim (!) trim, which comes with the all-new 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

Performance Pros

Kia Soul
  • The 201 horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gives the Soul an all-new, fun-filled personality.
  • The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission shifts with precision under moderate to heavy throttle.
  • Ride is smoother than expected in a small crossover.

Performance Cons

  • The turbo engine’s low-end torque quickly brings about annoying levels of torque steer and wheel spin.
  • The two less-powerful engines are average at best.
  • All three engines fall short of the competition in fuel economy, with the naturally aspirated engines hitting 27 miles per gallon combined and the turbocharged unit bumping that to 28 mpg combined.
  • The dual-clutch transmission is a little jerky at lower engine speeds.
  • Paddle shifters on the turbocharged model would up the fun factor significantly.

Interior Pros

  • There’s a laundry list of options to choose from to customize the Soul to a buyer’s liking.
  • The optional infotainment system is intuitive, and its included Android Auto interface makes things even easier.
  • Plenty of soft-touch materials above the shoulder line, giving it a more premium feel.
  • The seats are comfortable and have just enough bolstering to hold passengers in place.
  • There’s an impressive 39.1 inches of leg room in the rear seats.

Interior Cons

  • A lot of engine noise makes its way into the cabin on hard acceleration, although this is occasionally a good thing on the sportier turbocharged model.
  • Only 18.8 cubic feet of cargo room with the rear seats up.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

While it’s not a hot crossover by any means, the 1.6-liter turbocharged engine and dual-clutch transmission are great additions. They deliver zippy acceleration in and out of traffic and allow the Soul to merge onto a busy freeway with confidence.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

While its safety ratings are good, the Soul still lacks the available automatic emergency braking that will make it an IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus. What’s more, even the rearview camera is an option – and a costly one at that.

The Bottom Line

With the optional engine, the Soul is a blast to drive. And like always, its cabin is still roomy and well-equipped at all levels. But it lacks in areas that some buyers just cannot look past, such as a standard rearview camera, optional automatic emergency braking, and cargo room with the seats up.