When it comes to basic transportation needs, you don’t have to purchase the blah, boring vehicle instead KIA offers a unique style for an inexpensive price. This compact crossover begs the question: can you live with a little Soul?
1. KIA Soul – Three Trims, Three Powertrains
The compact crossover SUV (technically classified as a wagon, but c’mon) comes in three different trim packages – Base, Plus (+) and Exclaim (!). Each of these trim levels comes with different powertrains.
The base model comes with a 1.6 L four-cylinder engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission (automatic is optional) producing 130 HP and 118 lb-ft. of torque. This is not a very powerful powertrain, but the starting MSRP of $16,100 is hard to beat.
Next, is the Plus trim with its 2.0L four-cylinder engine offered only with an automatic transmission. This trim starts at $19,800 and the powertrain output is improved up to 161 HP and 150 lb-ft of torque.
Finally, the Exclaim trim comes with a new 1.6L turbocharged engine (201 HP and 195 lb-ft of torque) along with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. This is the most fun model to drive and it is also the most expensive starting at $22,800.
All KIA Soul models come in front-wheel drive. Fuel economy for our test Exclaim model was EPA rated at 26/31/28 city/highway/combined while the other engines are rated at 25/30/27 city/highway/combined for the automatic with the manual offering one less MPG for city.
2. KIA Soul EV
Another option for those in certain areas is the KIA Soul EV. This fully electric version runs off an electric motor producing 210 lb-ft of instant torque.
Right now, the KIA Soul EV is offered in select markets: California, Oregon, Washington, Georgia, Texas and Hawaii. Keep in mind, that doesn’t mean you can’t buy one and trailer back to your house.
It is a bit pricey and starts at $32,250.
3. Inside the Cabin
One of the immediate things you will realize with the KIA Soul is it is built for a specific audience.
Behind the wheel, the dash, interior finishes and styling all speak to a younger generation. The rear seating area could be tight for 5 passengers, yet, again, younger passengers will do just fine.
This isn’t to say the KIA Soul is cheap looking. Sure, the interior it is filled with cheap, plastic coverings, but this helps keep the cost down and KIA designers have added style to the plastic. Also, every spot where you touch has soft-touch materials.
4. Behind the Wheel
While the inside of the cabin may feel a little less refined than other compact crossover SUV like say the Jeep Renegade or Nissan Rogue Sport, it is even more unrefined behind the wheel.
One would expect this size of SUV to be nimble and handle sharply especially with our test model Exclaim package with its 1.6L turbocharged engine. However, compared to other vehicles like the Rogue Sport, it simply doesn’t offer the same driving performance.
Is it awful? Hardly, it gets up to speed quickly and has a driving experience matching its inexpensive price. It just isn’t a spirited driving experience.
5. New Refreshed Model Coming Soon?
While shopping for any new car, it is a good idea to understand product cycles to see if a new model is coming out soon. Often buying the model year before another model comes out can hurt your car’s value and make you envious of the new models features.
For the 2017 KIA Soul, it is nearly time for a refresh. The current generation debuted in 2014 and has now been on sale for 3 years. Typically, automotive product cycles go in seven years increments with a refresh in the middle. With the compact crossover SUV market being hot right now, there is a good chance KIA will refresh the current generation for the 2018 model year.
Keep an eye on the upcoming slate of auto shows for clues on whether this will happen or not. By the end of April, all four major auto shows will be over. If no new KIA Soul is debuted, then it will be at least another model year before a new model comes out.