2017 Soul New Car Test Drive
Last redesigned for 2014, the 2017 Kia Soul gets a new engine added to the lineup, a turbo four that brings more power. The compact hatchback has great packaging inside its boxy body and handles surprisingly well on winding roads.
For 2017, there are three different engines in the three models. The base model gets a 1.6-liter four-cylinder making 130 horsepower, mated to a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic. It's slow.
The Plus model, which Kia calls + but we'll use the word for, takes a 2.0-liter four that makes 161 horsepower, mated to a six-speed automatic. It's quicker, but the transmission searches around for the gear it wants, too much, with both this engine and the base model's.
The Exclaim (!), gets the new engine, a 1.6-liter turbocharged four making 201 horsepower, that's also used by the Hyundai Elantra Sport. It's mated to a smooth seven-speed dual-clutch automatic manual transmission. This engine delivers spirited performance when driving quickly, but the turbo lags at low engine speeds making the car feel lethargic when loafing around town.
Four-wheel disc brakes are standard, with brake assist and hill-start assist, even on the base model. They work well, easy to modulate for smooth, controlled braking.
Fuel mileage is good but doesn't match the best competitors, probably because Soul's boxy shape is less aerodynamic. The base model with the 1.6-liter engine with the automatic rates 25 miles per gallon City, 30 Highway, and 27 Combined by the Environmental Protection Agency. The Plus with the 2.0-liter rates 25/30/27 mpg. The new Exclaim with the 1.6-liter turbo and seven-seed dual-clutch gets 26/31/28 mpg. There's also a Soul EV.
For a compact, Soul scores well in crash testing, with five stars overall from the NHTSA, and the top Good scores from the IIHS. Six airbags are standard, and a rearview camera is standard on the Exclaim and Plus. There's an available safety suite including blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning.
Kia Soul ($16,100) comes with cloth seats, air conditioning, Bluetooth, satellite radio, and a 60/40-split folding rear seat. Manual transmission is standard, automatic is available ($17,700).
Soul+ ($19,800) gets upgraded cloth upholstery, a 5.0-inch touchscreen, rearview camera, 17-inch wheels, and body-colored bumpers and trim.
Soul! ($22,800) comes with the new turbo engine, 18-inch wheels and sporty exterior bits. Inside, there are leather seats and piano black trim, a 4.3-inch LED instrument cluster, and keyless ignition.
All Souls get a great warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles, and the powertrain for 10 years or 100,000 miles. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.).