Since showing up as a 2009 model year, the quirky Kia Soul has been a hit for the South Korean automaker. Now well into its second generation, the 2017 Soul shows no signs of slowing down, especially with its 201 horsepower, of which we’ll get into later in this review.
It’s a crossover of sorts but it’s a car of sorts and a CUV of sorts…it’s a lot of things, really, depending on your perspective. As far as boxy options go, with the demise of the Honda Element and Nissan Cube, there’s truly nothing quite like it on the road.
I spent a week in the top end SX Turbo Tech trim and came away thoroughly impressed with this hip, hamster-promoted vehicle.
Let’s start with what’s beneath the hood of the SX, which is a powerful and peppy 1.6L turbocharged 4 cylinder engine kicking out 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft. of torque.
Not known for its power, this iteration of the Soul reverses that by offering quick acceleration that directly injects a ton of fun for the lucky person behind the flat bottomed “D” shaped steering wheel.
Fuel economy for this 7-speed dual-clutch Sportmatic automatic transmission rates at 9.1 city and 7.7 highway for L/100km, which is respectable for this class and power.
The base LX gives you 130 horsepower and 118 lb-ft. of torque and the mid-level EX serves up 161 horsepower and 149 lb-ft. of torque, if power isn’t at the top of your list.
On the road, you’ll enjoy the higher sightlines of this unique not-entirely-boxy vehicle as you easily reach highway speeds and have ample passing power. Steering feel is responsive and the handling scores well with me…just don’t spin around corners too fast as there’s that whole “higher center of gravity thing” to be aware of.
On city streets, the Soul is is a great grocery getter and short haul trips are pleasantly enjoyable as you roll on 18” wheels. It’s not the best car I’ve ever driven but I can certainly see the appeal for it; it’s smallish, tallish and easy to get into and out of. It’s unique looking and not nearly as “out of the box” as the new space-aged looking Prius.
Once inside, the positives keep coming, starting with an 8” infotainment system that’s navigated easily, an 8-speaker Harman Kardon® premium audio system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (huge plusses for me) heated AND cooled front seats (well done, Kia) and heated rear seats, all in a spacious interior.
Kia’s never been about flash and that’s something I’ve admired about them for years. They produce a solid vehicle but do it subtly and the Soul is a continued example of that. My SX trim saw orange stitching and accents, dual high output USB ports, LED cabin lighting and a few other goodies.
The seats are comfortable and road trip worthy, although I personally would’ve liked a bit more thigh support…and the traditionalist in me doesn’t much care for the flat-bottomed steering wheel…but hey, different strokes for different folks, right?
Active safety on my tester saw a rearview camera, blind spot detection, rear-cross traffic alerts.
The panoramic sunroof lights light flood into the cabin and really giving it that open-concept feel.
Of course, no Kia Soul review can be complete without mentioning the very cool mood-lighting option, which in MINI-fashion, let’s you change the color of the interior lights and on the outer rim of the door speakers.
Maxing out at $29,995 for the SX Turbo Tech trim sure does give you a helluva lot of vehicle for the price. Considering the bare-bones starting price is $17,395 and the 8 different trims available, if the Soul is what you want, Kia has made it easy to find one that fits you.
If I were to spec one, I’d take mine as is, complete with the Wild Orange colour for the extra $200.
Call it a box, a short wagon, tall hatchback, crossover, that car that had the hamsters in it, call it what you want but the Kia Soul has an unmistakable offering for the Canadian market. Since SUV’s/CUV’s/Crossovers are all the rage and obliterating sedan sales, the Soul is a great alternative.
With a just-aggressive-enough design but not offensive , Kia has chiseled out a nice, boxy niche for themselves.
Enjoy the full gallery below: