One of the most unique vehicles on the road, this compact crossover/hatchback thing with a funky wagon-type look is not going to be confused with anything else you see. The grille and headlight design are far from cookie-cutter, and it may be one of the few intentionally boxy looks for sale these days (though not quite to the level of the now-defunct Nissan Cube). The large windows provide a clear view of what’s outside the vehicle, too.
There are some cheaper, plasticky materials used inside, but the price is also low so no surprise there. Back seat is pretty tight for legroom and overall space, but it’s actually better than most of its competitors. You can seat up to five people in the Soul, but keep the shorter ones in back.
To keep with its different look, there are unique colors offered on the Soul (My test vehicle was what I’ll call maroonish), and even some two-tone setups with roof getting a different color. Add all this up and you’ll come to the same conclusion I did: The Kia Soul is not a wallflower.
The top trim level of the Soul, which I tested, features a A 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which provides a solid 201 horsepower (which may be best in class). Base engine will offer 130 horsepower and be less fun to drive, so you’ll have to weigh your options.
It’s a front-wheel drive vehicle (AWD is not offered), and you can choose between an automatic or manual transmission. Manual is standard on the base model.
Road noise is present to some degree, but not to the point of distraction.
I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the drive as much as I did in the Soul, as the class of vehicles isn’t known for being very fun. But it definitely surprised me -- in a good way. You’re going to get around quite well, both in terms of acceleration and overall handling.
And I would say it’s definitely worth going the route of the top trim level, otherwise you won’t get the turbo engine.
Overall, the UVO infotainment system worked very well in the Soul, both via touch and voice commands, and the touch controls on steering wheel and dashboard are set up very well and don’t cause any confusion.
The Optional technology package on the Soul (which runs $3,000) includes: Navigation system with 8-inch display; Harman Kardon premium audio system; LED fog lights; Power folding outside mirrors; Heated front seats; Heated steering wheel; Blind Spot Detection; USB chargers in center console; and LED taillights, among a few other things.
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility are also offered.
Standard features include Bluetooth, a six-speaker audio system, and satellite radio.
Official numbers are 24 city/30 highway/27 combined. My experience was slightly lower, but I wasn’t focused on maximizing fuel mileage. Compared to other vehicles in its class, the Soul is a bit behind in the fuel mileage race, so that’s a slight knock against it.
There are three trim levels of the Soul for sale. Base starts at $16,100; + starts at $19.800; and ! starts at $22,800 (yes, even the Soul’s trim levels are unique).
My test vehicle was a loaded ! (aka Exclaim) model and came in at $27,620 (including options for panoramic sunroof and the Technology package).
The Kia Soul has a wholly unique look, is a fun car to drive with the turbo engine, and is a great option for younger buyers who don’t want to settle for a regular old sedan.
I wouldn’t recommend the Soul for a family, due to the limited size this category offers, but single adults on a budget who wants something more than a small sedan for less should give it a shot.
Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.