2017 Kia Soul Review: Getting better all the time

– Cleveland, Ohio

The Soul is a hit with American car buyers. Its panoply of practicality, affordability, and stylishness is like catnip for cost-consciousness consumers not looking to settle for an everyday economy car.

Hoping to continue its success, Kia has given the Soul a more powerful and fuel efficient turbocharged engine this year. A welcome addition, this new motor nevertheless isn’t the ingredient that would make many U.S. shoppers go ga-ga. That would be all-wheel drive. Without this, the Soul may continue to get passed over by many shoppers in cold or mountainous locales, but it may not matter as long as Kia keeps improving its hip hatchback year after year.

 

 

Pros

Top-shelf engine. The Soul’s new engine is a turbocharged, 1.6-liter four-cylinder making 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque, which is 40 hp and 45 lb-ft of torque more than the non-turbo 2.0-liter engine it replaces in the car’s top trim level (the 2.0-liter is still standard in the middle Plus trim level). Even with the extra grunt, it manages to score one mpg better in the EPA’s official combined rating: 28 versus 27. While far from making the Soul a hot hatch, this new engine’s power is delivered with little lag and shows up where it’s needed most, like entrance ramps and while passing semis on the highway.

Premium features. The Soul starts out as an economy car with a $16,100 base price, but when loaded it offers more premium features than some luxury cars. I tested the top Soul Exclaim ...