SUV/TRUCK REVIEWS

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2017 Kia Soul’s appeal goes beyond its unique look Featured

Mar 05, 2017 Hit: 377 Written by 
The Kia Soul is among the more uniquely styled vehicles on the road in 2017.
The Kia Soul is among the more uniquely styled vehicles on the road in 2017. Photo courtesy of Kia

Personality goes a long way in life.

It’s how salespeople get you to buy things you don’t need, it’s why comedians often date supermodels, and it’s why vehicles like the Kia Soul have a following.


As it applies to automobiles, personality -- in my view -- means you’re doing something different designwise than the rest of the competition. That’s increasingly rare in the automotive world lately -- as it’s easier to play it safe than take a risk.

But if you’ve ever seen a Kia Soul and then looked at all the other compact SUV options on the road, you know they have being different down to an art form.

The question is: Is being different equivalent to something you would want to drive, or is it just for show. I recently spent some time in a Soul and I’m back with a full report.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle:: 2017 Kia Soul
  • Price as tested:: $27,620 (starts at $16,100)
  • Best feature:: Unique and surprisingly appealing look; low price
  • Rating:: 4 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?:: Young buyers or those without families who want an affordable vehicle and don’t want to settle for a sedan

LOOKS

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.

ENGINE, HORSEPOWER

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.


TECHNOLOGY, SAFETY

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.

FUEL MILEAGE
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.

 

PRICE

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).

BOTTOM LINE

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.

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AutoTechReviews.com can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page.

Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

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Matt Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

Website: www.autotechreviews.com

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