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Overview (Final Score: B)

The automotive industry isn’t immune to fads. Remember how we had retro-styled vehicles like the Chrysler PT Cruiser and Ford Thunderbird?

Another recent fad is box vehicles, which was started by the Scion xB in 2004. Aside from standing out, the box shape also provided a very spacious interior for passengers and cargo. In due course, Nissan and Kia joined in the fun with the Cube and Soul, respectively.

In the last few years, Nissan and Scion pulled their box vehicles due to declining sales. However, Kia kept building theirs as it became one of their most popular models. The Kia Soul underwent some changes for 2017, with the big news being the option of a turbo engine. This gives the Soul some much-needed punch in the power department

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What We Love About the 2017 Kia Soul:

  • Turbo engine gives some pep
  • Immense space
  • Comfortable interior

 

What We Don’t Love About the 2017 Kia Soul:

  • Turbo models need a sporty suspension
  • Lack of AWD may turn some people off
  • A fair amount of wind noise at higher speeds

 

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Performance (7/10)

There are three different engines on offer for the Soul. The base Soul comes with a 1.6L 4-cylinder offering 130 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque. A 6-speed manual comes standard, while a 6-speed automatic is optional. The Plus receives a 2.0L 4-cylinder with 161 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. The sole transmission choice for the 2.0L is a 6-speed automatic.

Exclaim models come with a turbocharged 1.6L 4-cylinder with 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. The turbo engine is paired with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. One item to be aware of, Kia doesn’t offer AWD on any Soul model. This will turn off some buyers as they see the model as a crossover.

There is some turbo lag when you’re leaving a stop, but the engine soon comes to life and gives the Soul some much-needed zip. Compared to the 2.0L, the 1.6T has a sharper throttle response and feels quicker in city driving. When it comes to freeway driving, the Soul Turbo doesn’t feel as punchy. Some of this can be laid at the feet of the dual-clutch transmission which is focused more on efficiency and not performance. It doesn’t help that the dual-clutch is somewhat slow when it comes to downshifts. Some of this could be solved if Kia offered a 6-speed manual transmission for the turbo engine or gave a manual shift option for the DCT, either on the console or through a set of paddle shifters.

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The Soul Exclaim has the looks and power to make it a possible hot hatch, but what about the suspension? That’s where the model falters slightly. Despite the turbo engine, Kia hasn’t made any changes to Exclaim’s suspension. The Soul feels stable and shows little body roll, but it would have nice if it had some faster reflexes and cornered slightly flatter. Steering is decently weighted, but a little bit more feel would be nice. On the upside, the Soul provides a very comfortable ride with most bumps ironed out. There is a fair amount of wind noise, mostly due to the Soul’s shape.

Pricing and Value (8/10)

The 2017 Kia Soul begins at $16,100 for the base model and climbs to $22,800 for the Exclaim. Our test Soul Exclaim came to an as-tested price of $27,620 with the Technology Package, Panoramic Sunroof and Carpeted Floor Mats. For most, we recommend getting the Exclaim with the Technology Package, as you’ll get everything you need and want in a vehicle.

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Total Score and Competitive Comparison (66/80, 83%)

The Honda HR-V provides more cargo space and the option of AWD. Where it falters is that its infotainment system is frustrating to use when compared to the Soul’s UVO system and only one engine option.

Mazda’s CX-3 is the sexiest crossover of the bunch and embarrasses everyone when it comes driving fun. It doesn’t hurt that the CX-3 also returns some impressive fuel economy figures. But the CX-3 has a cramped interior for both passengers and cargo when pitted against the Soul. The CX-3 could also use a bit more power.

It’s quite amazing to see the Soul living on after the likes of the Nissan Cube and Scion xB went the way of the dodo bird. But Kia has been keeping the Soul up to date with new improvements and features. The introduction of the turbo engine means the Soul opens itself up to more people.

We can’t help but wonder if the Soul would be more appealing if the Exclaim was a bit more sporty with changes to the suspension and possibly add the option of AWD. The Soul is a compelling choice in the class, but it could be so much more.

Read the FULL REVIEW Now to get expert tips on the 2017 Kia Soul’s safety, reliability, fuel economy, interior, exterior, technology and more.

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