The Kia Soul has continued to deliver a pleasing combination of style, value and versatility in the entry-level crossover utility vehicle segment ever since it first debuted for the 2010 model year.
But one of Soul’s shortcomings has been the lack of an available stronger engine that would make this hip vehicle more fun to drive.
Kia has been listening, and for 2017, Soul now offers a new 201-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine along with a new performance-oriented seven-speed, dual-clutch automated transmission.
The new turbo-four is very responsive and adds a much needed boost to Soul’s driving experience. I also like Soul’s new seven-speed dual-clutch automated transmission that delivers sporty shifts automatically or manually.
This new powertrain combination comes standard in Soul’s top-of-the-line Exclaim models.
From an exterior styling standpoint, Soul is somewhat boxy, but it radiates a lively and youthful personality.
Slip inside the Soul and you will be greeted by a nicely styled cabin that is surprisingly spacious for four large adults or a family of five. There was plenty of head- and legroom for my 6-foot-3 frame up front and in the rear. Rear-seat passengers enjoy plenty of legroom thanks to the flat floor design.
One negative I noted was that the cabin is a bit noisy when driving at highway speeds, but it is not a deal-breaker.
The versatile Soul lets you haul up to 24.2 cubic feet of cargo behind the rear seats, and up to 61.3 cubic feet of cargo with the rear seats folded down.
Soul’s optional panoramic sunroof lets in plenty of natural light, and in the evening, optional speaker lights help set the mood by changing the color and intensity of the light to the music being played.
For 2017, the Kia Soul is offered in three trim levels; Base, Plus and Exclaim. Pricing for the Base model starts at $16,100, and it features a 130-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine teamed to either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission.
Base models include 16-inch alloy wheels, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, air conditioning, power windows, power locks, 60/40 split-folding rear seats, Bluetooth, a six-speaker audio system, four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock, stability control and more.
Plus models ($19,800) feature a 161-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, six-speed automatic transmission, 17-inch alloy wheels, upgraded audio system with 5-inch touchscreen display, selectable drive modes and more.
Exclaim models ($22,800) feature the aforementioned new turbo-four, new seven-speed dual-clutch automated transmission, 18-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors with turn signal indicators, keyless entry and ignition, leather upholstery, a new 4.3-inch LCD display inside the gauge cluster, Kia’s UVO eServices with a 7-inch touch screen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
This is the first Kia Soul to offer a flat-bottomed sport steering wheel and optional Harman Kardon audio system. Rear cross traffic alert and blind spot detection are new options for 2017.