Millennials, The Kia Soul is Perfect for You: Review
“Millennials.” The word has been a popular term amongst marketing types for years. These 19 to 35 year-olds form the largest US generation ever, yet also span the gamut in terms of stages of life. Some recently entered college, others have been in the working world for over a decade. The millennial, therefore, is a moving target and a remarkably hard nut to crack (and sell to), but not an impossible one. And for Korean automaker Kia, it sure seems the company has found its niche with the Soul crossover, its second most popular model sold in the US last year. What the Kia Soul does very well is that it excels at being every thing to every person—a plus among a vastly diverse Millennial market. It’s a nice mix of small car sportiness and everyday usability, all within a reasonable budget. The Fast and the Frugal, if you will. RELATED: Kia Adds a New Crossover for 2017 — Kia Niro
Now I won’t say anyone’s going to lose sleep choosing between a brand-new MX-5 and the well-planted Kia Soul, but hear me out—this car is a fun little driver! The nimble Soul feels light and chuck-able when on a twisty backroad; I even surprised myself with how well-rounded and sporty the suspension felt, if a bit on the firm side. Steering is electric power-assisted, and though you may not get lots of feel through the system, turning in is sharp and very precise.
On long expanses of never-ending highway the Kia Soul performs great as well. The six-speed automatic transmission is a peach and readily shifts down when passing. And unlike some subcompacts at speed, you aren’t inundated with laborious high-rev engine drone at 70 mph. The small 2.0-liter engine sits at a reasonable cruising rpm—no valves tap-dancing off the hood here. A six-speed manual comes standard in base models, paired with a smaller 1.6-liter four-cylinder.
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Put your foot hard to the floor at low speeds and the 164 horsepower engine (this car is a Kia Soul +, or ‘Plus’) flicks through the gears quite swiftly. Kia says the Soul nets 23 mpg in the city and 31 mph on the highway, and based on my experience that sounds about right. For the millennial penny-pinchers amongst you—let’s admit it, many of us exist—the Soul also tacks on an ‘Eco’ mode which moves shift points lower and helps to eek out the best fuel efficiency possible.
Features and Styling
But enough about how it drives, the Kia Soul is a nice place to be. My + model came brimming with infotainment, iPod and Bluetooth connectivity, a fantastic navigation system, and a great sound system too. Pump the bass and the lower front speakers glow to the beat, a neat little feature. My test car also featured Kia’s huuuge Panoramic Sunroof, though during my rainy stay in Michigan all I saw were miles and miles of raindrops and clouds. Californians, there’s a feature for you.
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Inside, the trimmings, upscale finishes, and tech make it feel like a very premium vehicle, but shhh… my well-equipped + model cost just under $24,000.
Despite the Soul’s rather diminutive exterior size, there’s quite a lot of space inside, both for cargo and passengers. Millennials in school, you can probably move in-and-out of your apartment in just a couple trips or ferry around four of your closest friends in reasonable comfort. Millennials with three kids, the rear seat is comfy, and though it doesn’t quite fold flat, it does reveal a rather capacious trunk space.
Up front, the driving position and seat feel superb (I’m 6’2”) and with this car’s optional Primo package the seat came electronically adjustable, as well as heated and ventilated. I also fit in the back seats comfortably, though taller folks will want to sit up front.
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While I was never in love with the styling of the original Kia Soul—I thought it was a bit small-car shouty—the latest-generation is a big upgrade and looks fully grown-up, cleaner, and upscale.
Saying the Kia Soul + is a “one-size-fits-all car” would honestly be selling it short. The Soul leaves great impressions on a number of fronts, with few to no compromises. It’s inexpensive; base models start at just $15,900. It’s fun to drive; seriously, drive one on a twisty road. And it appeals to both the young professional and the young family alike.
For millennials currently on the car hunt, I would take a serious look at this Kia five-door, it really does have some heart and soul (pardon the pun). Now if only Kia would build the Soul Trail’ster concept for us off-road enthusiasts…
Engine: 2.0L 4-Cylinder
MPG: 24 / 31
Price (as tested): $23,925