With fuel economy for days, this small crossover goes and goes.
My childhood soundtrack was made up of songs about cars: Little Deuce Coupe. Little Red Corvette. Pink Cadillac. 409. Paradise by the Dashboard Light. Mercedes Boy. All of those songs remind me of my dad, because he would sit at his workbench in the garage with the radio playing and I’d have a Sony Walkman playing mine at the same time. He didn’t particularly care for any kind of music recorded after 1978.
Cars and music go hand in hand, and this past summer I jumped into a brand-new 2017 Kia Soul Turbo and cranked up the tunes in its Harman/Kardon stereo on a road trip from Chicago, Illinois, across the top of Indiana, toward Detroit and back across Michigan, then southeast to Dayton, Ohio. That’s a lot of miles and a lot of driving, and when you’re in a gas-sipping, fuel economy-conscious vehicle, the value is precious.
This car is a great match for:
- Singles, couples or small families
- Hatchback fans
- Buyers who do not need a third row
- Drivers who appreciate fuel economy
- Travelers who don’t pack too much luggage
- Buyers who are looking for great value in a zippy car
- Drivers who like the distinct style of the Soul
What it Costs
- 2017 Kia Soul Turbo ! (Exclaim) starts at $22,800
- Panoramic sunroof package: $1000
- The Soul! Tech Package: $3000
- High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Projector Beam Headlights with Auto Leveling
- LED Front Fog Lights
- UVO eServices with 8-inch touch-screen display, premium navigation, HD radio, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
- Blind Spot Detection System (BSD) & Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA)
- Heated Front & Rear Seats
Why the Kia Soul could be a love match for you
“That’s a great-looking car,” the man at the toll booth said to me as I stopped to hand him a dollar bill. I heard that a few times on my road trip through the Midwest; people like the way this car looks and they asked me questions about it. They wanted to know what it felt like to drive, and what I liked about it. I, in turn, asked my passengers what they thought of this small crossover.
My mom, for one, loved the room in the back seat. She sat back there and played Road Trip Bingo with my son while I drove four hours from northern Indiana to Dayton, Ohio. She is a few inches shorter than me (I’m 5’5″), so her legs aren’t super long, but she had ample leg room and so would someone taller than I am.
My 8-year-old son loved the sunroof and the center console in the back so he could collect cups back there and feel like he was riding in First Class.
I liked the fuel economy, which I found to be astounding after driving my personal SUV around all the time; it gets half the miles per gallon of the Soul. I also really liked the D-shaped steering wheel and the ease of learning the car and using all of the controls on the steering wheel. It is quite intuitive.
Come On, Does Turbo Really Describe this Small Crossover?
You might be surprised at how zippy this car is. I was skeptical about how “turbo” this turbocharged car could be, and it delighted me. On several occasions, I needed to accelerate quickly onto an interstate ramp, and it kept the pace quite well. I tested the eco, normal, and sport modes; most of the time, the normal mode suited me fine. Smooth, predictable, comfortable ride and I was never worried about how well it could run with the big dogs on the highways.
The turbo facts:
- 1.6 L turbocharged inline 4 cylinder
- 201 horsepower (compared to 130 for the base model and 161 for the +)
- 195 lb-feet of torque
- 26/31/28 fuel economy (city/highway/combined)
- About 3200 pounds
Safety Matters, No Matter Which Kia You’re In
All three Kia Soul models: Base, + (Plus), and ! (Exclaim) have the same safety features. I love this approach to safety; it means that no matter which model you choose or how much money you have, Kia gives you the same level of detail when it comes to safety.
The Soul has airbags galore, antilock braking, tire-pressure monitoring, and built-in crumple zones. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2017 Kia Soul a 5-star rating for safety overall, and five stars for front and side crashes. They’re not messing around with safety on the Kia lines.
Is there enough room for my stuff?
Three people, a car seat, multiple bags and snacks, and a cooler. Kia is deliberate in its marketing of the Soul: it’s not a hatchback, it’s a crossover. The back tailgate pops up easily with a soft spring, and there was enough room for all of us to pack everything we needed for a 4-day trip. The back seat folds down for a 60/40 split, so you can carry more cargo, and still have enough room for two people in front and one in the back.
On the way back, we had even more to pack – essential items like bags of sprinkles from Graeter’s ice cream – and we didn’t feel cramped.
The console in front had a deep compartment for snacks, wallets, and phones, or even a small bag. It’s nice to know there are hiding places for valuables that securely keep them out of sight.
What We Loved
- Giant sunroof
- Double stitching on the seat fabric
- Roomy back seat
- Deep, sturdy console that could hold a small purse, and certainly your wallet
- Sporty, D-shaped steering wheel with perforated leather and well-designed, intuitive buttons to control many of the functions
- Easy-access sleek tailgate and fold-down seats for cargo
- Smooth acceleration when merging into traffic
What you need to know
- The fuel economy will make you happy, especially on long road trips
- Available in three trims: Base, + (Plus), and ! (Exclaim)
- ! includes push-button start and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay
- Overall NHTSA safety rating: 5 star
- Completely redesigned for this model year
- Kia hamsters not included 🙂
My Kia Soul Playlist
As I mentioned at the beginning, being home in Indiana reminds me of all the music I grew up listening to, from Beach Boys to Pebbles, War to Urban Dance Squad. This playlist is a bit eclectic, which is perfectly suited to me and this vehicle. Enjoy.