2017 Kia Soul ! new car reviews

No, the exclamation point isn't because this is the most exciting car we've reviewed so far this year. It's actually Kia's cutesy package designation. If you want a Kia Soul, you can have a "base," a "+" or an "!." The ! is the only one that comes with the 1.6-liter turbocharged engine and a snappy dual-clutch transmission. ! indeed.

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David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

This is likely the perfect daily driver for most people.

The Soul chassis is just about the right size. It’s not too big yet is plenty roomy enough. I’m glad it’s still boxy. Long live the box.

Interior? Yep, nice and comfy. Kia keeps moving upmarket, and the latest Soul reflects that fact. It didn’t feel cheap or anything.

Power? The turbo 1.6-liter makes 201 horsepower—that’s one more than my Porsche 911. The Soul’s engine isn’t laggy or weird or anything. And I love the twin-clutch transmission.

I know that our market loves to row their own, but twin-clutches just make sense: faster shifts and better fuel economy.

One thing that people might balk at is the price. Our ! test model (yes, the model names are a little silly) starts at $22,800.

The Base car starts at $16,100, which seems spot-on for this class. The ! adds a lot of nice stuff like that turbo engine and twin-clutch transmission, but I wonder if their customer base will make that jump or look for a model that carries a bit more prestigious name tag.

If looking for a well equipped crossover that sports a smaller footprint, though, I’d recommend checking out this one.

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Comments

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nderwater
nderwater UltimaDork
1/26/17 3:17 p.m.

I leased at 2015 Soul EV+ because I wanted to take advantage of a tax credit and didn't like the Nissan Leaf. My Soul continues to impress me with its comfort, quality and practicality despite its Kia badge and small size.

The Soul ! reviewed here is no replacement for a Fiesta ST or Focus ST, but might be an ideal choice for people looking for a sensible commuter car with a little kick.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
1/26/17 4:14 p.m.
nderwater wrote: The Soul ! reviewed here is no replacement for a Fiesta ST or Focus ST, but might be an ideal choice for people looking for a sensible commuter car with a little kick.

And that's a great way to look at it. So, how was your EV experience?

NickD
NickD SuperDork
1/26/17 4:19 p.m.

My coworker Harry (who's quite a character, he's about 5'8", with hair down to his waist and a beard the same length, super twisted sense of humor) says he wants to buy one in black so he can tell people he has a black Soul.

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
1/26/17 6:17 p.m.

How many hamsters is that?

Fitzauto
Fitzauto Dork
1/26/17 8:57 p.m.

I really like my GFs 2013 Soul. Has the 2.0 and 6 speed, lots of fun to drive.

HappyAndy
HappyAndy PowerDork
1/26/17 10:25 p.m.

Rodan
Rodan Reader
1/26/17 10:31 p.m.

We bought a Soul! for my wife's DD back in 2010. No turbo then, and manual 5 speed. Nothing exceptional about it, except it was just a good car. Comfortable, good interior materials, ran well, and was fantastic in snow. Didn't get great mileage (probably that whole box thing). In 3 years, we never had any issues with it, but with a 10 year warranty I never worried about it, either. I could easily see us owning another one someday... my wife loved it and still misses it but prefers her NC Miata...

Bobzilla
Bobzilla UltimaDork
1/27/17 6:54 a.m.

I tried to test drive a Soul but they wouldn't let me. They said gingers might steal souls so they're only allowed to sit in them

nderwater
nderwater UltimaDork
1/27/17 8:49 a.m.

Hi David - My EV experience has been really easy. The Soul EV is a very close benchmark to the Nissan Leaf, just better looking inside and out. Driving patiently I can stretch the range to over 125 miles, which almost always meets my needs--but the Soul is not our only car.

The small footprint is great in traffic and for parking in tight spaces. There is comfortable room for four adults, but the back seat is a squeeze for five. Hatch area cargo space is pretty small but the seats easily fold down when needed. I have three kids (two in carseats) so our new Kia Sedona minivan is the workhorse for family outings and hauling stuff.

The underfloor battery yields a low CG and helps the car feel stable and planted, but the suspension is set up for terminal understeer. Low rolling resistance tires mean little lateral grip. ABS and traction control intervene easily, so the car is fun to chuck around at up to 8/10ths but can't be pushed much farther. The car is adequate but by no means fast in a straight line (0-60 in 10, 1/4 mi in 17) but the total lack of noise makes it easy to catch other drivers unawares at stoplights ;)

My weekday commute is about 40 miles and uses 35-45% of the stored charge, depending on weather and driving style. I routinely charge to 100% in my garage, so I still have plenty of juice to get to work and back a second time when I occasionally forget to have plugged in the night before.

Here in metro Atlanta there are lots of places to charge up, including some a few blocks from my office and others near my home. However, only DC Fast Chargers can do so quickly enough to top you up along a trip (in minutes instead of hours), and there are far fewer of those. A growing fast charger network means that I could now take day trips to Chattanooga, Columbus, Augusta, or the north Georgia mountains and back... but the network is still spread too thin, and my car's range too small, to justify taking it on a traditional road trip.

In short the Soul EV is a pleasant, comfortable, practical commuting appliance. It's a great city car, a great suburban commuter, and ownership costs are about as low as they get for a new vehicle.

pinchvalve
pinchvalve MegaDork
1/27/17 12:17 p.m.

My wife drove a Soul+ for a few years and loved it. Never had an issue with it and it was a perfectly practical car. It was a 5-speed (Yes, my wife can drive a stick. No, you can't have her) She only sold it when she decided that a cute little red box was no longer the image she wanted as a senior manager.

Bobzilla
Bobzilla UltimaDork
1/27/17 12:54 p.m.
pinchvalve wrote: My wife drove a Soul+ for a few years and loved it. Never had an issue with it and it was a perfectly practical car. It was a 5-speed (Yes, my wife can drive a stick. No, you can't have her) She only sold it when she decided that a cute little red box was no longer the image she wanted as a senior manager.

Mine's planning on stealing my 6-spd Forte once I get the new project.

Jumper K. Balls
Jumper K. Balls UberDork
1/27/17 1:01 p.m.

I guess I am in the minority here. I dislike our '12 Soul. I refer to it as a car that does nothing well except rear passenger leg room, which we rarely use. It is by far the most fatiguing road trip car I have ever had. The road noise is intolerable for more than 2 hours. She enjoys the high seating position but admits that she gets less car sick in my cars with far lower seats. The hatch is too narrow and the behind the seat area is tiny. It has the worst ABS and traction control feeling I have experienced. The engine sound is thrashy and harsh. Fuel economy is like 19/26

It is reliable, I will give it that. The main relay went out about 10K miles ago which I fixed for under $10 and the drivers door power lock is iffy when the temperature is under 35 degrees. Pretty decent history for a 50K mile car.

Sky_Render
Sky_Render SuperDork
1/27/17 1:44 p.m.

I had a '15 Soul as a rental car on a business trip. Singularly the crappiest vehicle I have ever driven in my life. Uncomfortable, no power, and a "trunk" that was somehow even smaller than the one on my Mustang.

nderwater
nderwater UltimaDork
1/27/17 2:47 p.m.
nderwater wrote: [My 2015] Soul EV is a pleasant, comfortable, practical commuting appliance. It's a great city car, a great suburban commuter, and ownership costs are about as low as they get for a new vehicle.
Sky_Render wrote: I had a '15 Soul as a rental car on a business trip. Singularly the crappiest vehicle I have ever driven in my life. Uncomfortable, no power, and a "trunk" that was somehow even smaller than the one on my Mustang.

lol, is there a more fitting example of YMMV?

As a counter-point to Sky_Render, I can say with all honesty that not only have I driven many 'crappier' vehicles than the Soul, I have also owned several much, much crappier vehicles.

ebonyandivory
ebonyandivory UltraDork
1/27/17 4:19 p.m.

Imagine having the only one of those cars in the capital of South Korea?

Anyone?

Bobzilla
Bobzilla UltimaDork
1/27/17 4:22 p.m.
ebonyandivory wrote: Imagine BEING A GINGER, having the only one of those cars in the capital of South Korea? Anyone?

Fixicated that. That would end the universe.

Zomby Woof
Zomby Woof PowerDork
1/27/17 5:16 p.m.

My stepdad's had one for a few years now, and likes it. When my Mom was looking for a car last year, she looked at everything, and ended up buying a Soul. She told me it was the new model, and completely different than the other one. I looked forward to seeing it, as I wasn't aware of this new model. She brought it over a few days later, and not only is it exactly the same as the other one, but that's now become a family joke, and we tease her about it every chance we get. That Christmas turkey was completely different from last year's...

ebonyandivory
ebonyandivory UltraDork
1/27/17 5:23 p.m.
Bobzilla wrote:
ebonyandivory wrote: Imagine BEING A GINGER, having the only one of those cars in the capital of South Korea? Anyone?

Fixicated that. That would end the universe.

I was thinking you'd have the sole Soul in Seoul. (And you specifically would be the only soul with no soul with the sole Soul in Seoul?)

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