Shopping for a compact car? Yes, the Kia Soul’s looks definitely make it stand out. But so do its affordable price, comfortable interior, cavernous cargo space and reliability, making this hatchback a top choice in this crowded segment.
The five-passenger Kia Soul comes in base, Plus (+) and Exclaim (!) trims. The base Soul model starts at just $16,100, one of the lowest starting prices in the class. The other two trims start at $19,800 and $22,650. There’s also an EV that starts around $32,250.
The front-wheel-drive Soul comes standard with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 130 horsepower. That’s about average for a compact vehicle but it doesn’t give you a whole lotta oomph. You can choose a manual or six-speed automatic with this engine. The Plus trim gets a 2.0-liter four-banger that makes 161 hp, paired with a six-speed automatic and provides enough power for everyday driving. The Exclaim trim gets a new 1.6-liter turbocharged engine that generates 201 hp, paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
The Exclaim is pretty zippy from a stop and is comfortable at freeway speeds, but it’s not sporty. It corners pretty well, considering its boxy shape. There’s less body roll than you might expect. The ride is comfortable.
Fuel efficiency is below average for a compact. EPA ratings for my Exclaim trim are 26 mpg city and 31 mpg highway with a combined rating of 28 mpg. I got 29 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The boxy design means the cabin is spacious and airy, with good legroom and excellent headroom for passengers in both rows of seating. Materials are attractive with a nice look and feel; most are soft-touch. Everything looks more upscale than you’d expect at this price point. Controls are easy to reach and use. I got a kick out of the lights around the speakers that pulse to the beat of the music. You can practically see the hamsters dancing to the tunes!
I’m a huge fan of Kia’s optional UVO infotainment system. It’s very user-friendly and super easy to connect your smartphone to Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.
The Kia Soul does not come standard with any active safety features, not even a rearview camera which you’ll find on a growing number of competitors. You can add a camera and other options are available on higher trims, such as blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, forward collision warning and rear cross traffic alert.
The Soul has a ton of cargo space for the class. There are 24.2 cubic feet of storage with both rows of seating in place and 61.3 cubes with the second row folded down. The back seat doesn’t fold quite flat, however. In the hatch, there’s a hidden area under the floor where you can stash smaller items out of sight.
One of the lowest starting prices for the class
Tons of room for the class for passengers and cargo
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are available
Excellent reliability score of 4.5 from J.D. Power and Associates
Covered by Kia’s five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and 10- year/100,000 powertrain warranty.
Top score of five stars in NHTSA crash tests
base engine could use more power
fuel economy just so-so
no active safety features are standard, not even a rearview camera
My tester starts at $22,650. The Panoramic sunroof with power sunshade is $1,000. The Technology Package is $3,000 and adds navigation system with eight-inch display, Harman Kardon premium audio system, speaker lights, projector low beam headlights, LED fog lights, LED positioning lights, power folding outside mirrors, power adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support, power adjustable front passenger seat, heated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, Blind Spot Detection, center console USB chargers and LED tail lights. Carpeted floor mats are $120. Delivery fee is $850 bringing the grand total to $27,620.
If you’re looking for an affordable small car with a quirky design that stands out from the pack, lots of room for passengers and cargo, and an attractive and practical interior, you’ll want to check out the Soul.