2017 Kia Soul Turbo Exclaim(!)

Susan Frissell
womenwithwheels.com

One of our favorites in the Kia lineup, the Soul is a boxy compact hatchback? SUV? Station wagon? The Soul has been categorized in various ways, and has room for five people. Front-wheel-drive, with a choice of three four-cylinder engines, the Soul remains a very popular choice among all age groups.

Competitors abound, including the Mini Countryman, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, the VW GTI, Ford Fiesta, Focus ST, Hyundai Veloster Turbo, Mazda CX-3 and Fiat 500X. All appealing in their own way, but none as ‘unusual’ as the Soul. And can anyone match the Soul ads? Doubtful.

Our test Soul, the top-of-the-line Exclaim (!) trim level, comes equipped with a new 201-horsepower, turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder that works with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Along with the Soul’s new drivetrain are 18-inch alloy wheels, power-adjustable front passenger seat, automatic a/c, push-button start, larger front brakes, two USB charge ports and a leather-wrapped square bottom steering wheel.

Standard features on the 2017 Soul include six-speed manual transmission, FWD, A/C, front bucket seats and 60/40 split-folding back seat, power windows/locks/side mirrors, Bluetooth. Also standard-and required equipment includes front airbags, ABS, and electronic stability system.

Soul offers several available features, as well, including the turbocharged, 1.6-liter 4-cylinder that came in our test model. Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (on the ! model), and Panoramic moonroof are also available. Heated front seats and ventilated seats, if you must; along with a Navigation system with 8-inch screen. Our Exclaim had the backup camera, keyless entry and push-button start. Also available are Forward Collision Warning, blind spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alert and lane departure warning system. One doesn’t want for much.

With the available features, of course, comes a higher cost. Our test Exclaim, with just one option: carpeted floor mats, $120, had a total vehicle price of $23,620. Still reasonable, considering today’s average price of a vehicle at over $34,000.

Although we liked the performance of the Turbo engine, we dread the pause when navigating corners or picking up from a light. The pause gets somewhat better when driving the vehicle for a while, but with many turbo engines, this is an annoying feature. The transmission could be a little jerky at times, and we noticed a rattle in the rear seating area.

The interior quality and many upscale features in the 2017 Kia Soul Exclaim were noticeable. Since it first entered the market in 2010, the Soul has gotten better and better. The ride is noticeably better; smoother and more solid. The added weight helps this.

The way the Soul is designed makes for good visibility. If you’re looking for all-wheel-drive, the Soul will let you down; although it’s assumed people choose certain cars for certain reasons. The Soul is an affordable, fun-to-drive vehicle; not a SUV. Attractive, particularly, to value-minded shoppers.

The Turbo version is easily recognizable with a red exterior accent line, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and 18-inch wheels. The car looks a little racier, with a boxy, almost athletic stance. The 1.6-liter Turbocharged inline four offers 201 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. torque. Pretty good pickup for a little hatchback.

Kia doesn’t pretend to believe the Soul is a sport compact. The best seller in its category, it is a small crossover, and remains popular for what it is. Kia says buyers are asking for more power and all-wheel-drive; perhaps they have visions of taking the Soul off-road since it easily accommodates gear, bikes and the like. The Turbo engine is standard on the Exclaim version, satisfying some.

According to Kia, the suspension on the Turbo version is the same as the others in the lineup, however, the springs and dampers are tuned slightly differently. The Exclaim’s 18-inch all-season tires are the same as those on the Soul Plus (+), however, the front brake rotors on the Exclaim are somewhat larger (12.0-inch diameter).

By the same token, Kia didn’t include Paddle shifters on the Turbo version; no loss, as far as this writer is concerned. Again, one can get the Paddle shifters on other, more sportier vehicles out there. We liked driving in the Sport mode, as it added a feeling of performance. Shifting seemed more responsive, and lag a little less likely.

You can’t beat the space inside the Soul, due mostly to its squared-off styling. Interior space, an airy and spacious cabin, and good visibility all around make this a great car to drive in traffic. Headroom is more than sufficient and when folding the rear seating, you’ve got space for any manner of items.

We always welcome the Kia Soul in the fleet. One of our favorites, the Soul is a welcome addition to any stable. Pricing is also very fair, starting at $23,500 ($1,350 increase over last year) for the Soul Turbo !. buyers can expect plenty of standard features, and new technology such as Anroid Auto/Apple CarPlay. If you choose to load it up with a moonroof, Nav, blind-spot detection, and a high-end Harman/Kardon audio system, you’ll come in around $27,620.
Pricing ranges from $16,100-$22,800, with three trim levels available.

SPECS

MSRP: $22,650; total vehicle price $23,620; destination $850
Engine: 1.6-liter Turbo Gas Direct Injection, 4-cylinder, 201 hp., 195 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: 7-speed dual clutch
Wheelbase: 101.2 in.
Length: 163 in.
Width: 70.9 in.
Height: 63.5 in.
Wheels: 18-inch alloy aluminum
Tires: P235/45HR18
EPA fuel economy: 31 mpg highway
Fuel Tank Capacity: 14.2 gal.
Curb weight: 3,232 lbs.
Warranty: 60 mths/60,000-miles Bumper-to-bumper; 120 mths/100,000-miles Powertrain; 60 mths/60,000-miles roadside assistance
NHTSA ratings: 5 star

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