2017 Kia SoulPosted on January 11th, 2017
Tops the list for urban athletes
By Nina Russin
In 2016 the Kia Soul won ALV’s Urban category award for an unprecedented fourth year in a row: further proof that the compact crossover might be the perfect choice for city dwellers with active lifestyles. The Soul’s cool styling, compact dimensions and versatile interior resonate with athletes of all ages. The Soul is also affordable, with pricing for the base model starting at $15,990 excluding delivery.
The test car is the upscale Soul! (exclaim), priced from $22,650. Among standard convenience features are automatic headlamps, power windows, door locks and side mirrors, keyless start, automatic climate control and Bluetooth interface.
Options on the test car include a panoramic sunroof and a technology package that adds navigation, Harman Kardon premium audio system, LED exterior lighting, power folding outside mirrors, power driver’s and front passenger seats, heated front and rear outboard seats, blind spot monitoring and USB charging ports. Final MSRP is $27,620.
Test drive in Southern Arizona
Over the past week I drove the Soul through the Gila River Indian community at the base of the San Tan Mountains, Chandler, Scottsdale and the foothills of the Superstition Mountains east of town. The test drive of about 150 miles included high speed highways, two-lane rural roads, surface streets and elevation gain of about 1,000 feet.
The Soul’s 1.6-liter turbocharged engine and seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission handled all of the above with aplomb. With standard 18-inch rims on the Exclaim model, the Soul is stable on the highway, with excellent acceleration off-the-line and in the 20-50 mile-per-hour range drivers use merging into high-speed traffic. The engine reaches 195 pound-feet of peak torque as low as 1500 rpm and maintains it to 4500. There is plenty of power on the high end as well for passing slower vehicles at speed.
The dual clutch transmission utilizes friction as opposed to liquid couplings for performance closer to a manual gearbox. If the driver pushes these units he might notice a slight hesitation before the gears engage, but that is not obvious during normal driving conditions.
Steering response is excellent at all speeds, with good assist on the low end for maneuverability and good on-center response on the highway.
A suspension consisting of an independent MacPherson strut front axle and torsion beam rear end does a good job of smoothing out bumps in the road. On a small front-wheel drive platform the solid rear axle has minimal impact on ride comfort and its compact dimensions enable engineers to maximize interior space.
Visibility around the perimeter is good, despite the car’s rather thick D-pillars. A rearview camera projects a wide-angle view to the back when the driver shifts into reverse to eliminate blind spots to the sides and below the rear window. Blind spot monitoring on the test car illuminates LED signals in the side mirrors when vehicles in adjacent lanes pass through the driver’s blind spots. The system uses an audible signal if the driver signals to turn when a vehicle in an adjacent lane is blocking his path.
Engineers did a good job of minimizing wind and engine noise intrusion to the interior, so occupants in both rows can converse or enjoy the premium audio system.
One of the biggest differences between the first-generation Soul and the current model is interior fit and finish. The interior is not only attractive, but also well-constructed. This is especially noticeable in the second-row seats. The fold-flat mechanism on earlier models was rather flimsy, but on the current model it’s quite solid.
Kia product planners are keenly aware of their audience’s technology focus, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as the newest version of UVO infotainment among the car’s standard features. Both the gauge cluster and center stack screen are easy to see in bright sunlight as well as after dark.
Power folding mirrors prevent parking lot mishaps, while keyless entry and start saves the driver from fumbling for the key fob. I found the power seats easy to adjust with ample lower lumbar support for longer drives. A tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel enables smaller drivers to have a clear forward view and maintain a safe distance from the front airbag.
Second-row seats fold flat to lengthen the cargo floor. While it is possible to fit a bicycle inside the car by removing both wheels, owners should consider a hitch or roof mount, or opt for the larger Sportage crossover.
The Kia Soul comes with six airbags, antilock brakes, stability control, traction control, hill start assist and tire pressure monitoring.
Kia’s ten-year/100,000-mile factory warranty includes five years or up to 60,000 miles of roadside assistance.
The Soul received a five-star crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Like: An affordable, stylish and versatile crossover vehicle whose small footprint makes it ideal for active urbanites.
Base price: $22,650
As tested: $27,620
Horsepower: 201 Hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 195 lbs.-ft. @ 1500 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 26/31 mpg city/highway2017, Urban 2017, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, Kia, performance, pricing, Soul Turbo, standard safety