2017 Kia Soul

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$16,100–$22,800 MSRP range
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Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
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Key Specs

of the 2017 Kia Soul. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • New turbocharged engine's performance
  • Outward visibility
  • Interior quality
  • Many upscale features available
  • Panoramic moonroof available
  • Heated steering wheel available

The Bad

  • Gets pricey quickly
  • All-wheel drive not offered
  • Jittery ride with 18-inch wheels
  • Transmission can hesitate
  • Backseat headroom tight with moonroof
  • No automatic emergency braking

Notable Features of the 2017 Kia Soul

  • Five-seat compact hatchback
  • Choice of three four-cylinder engines
  • Manual or automatic transmission
  • USB port standard
  • Buetooth connectivity standard

2017 Kia Soul Road Test

Bill Jackson
The Verdict:

A new engine for 2017 gives the Kia Soul's top trim, the Exclaim, a premium experience — but it comes at a fairly steep price.

Versus The Competition:

The Soul is a boxy front-wheel-drive hatchback that splits the difference between conventional hatchbacks and taller vehicles typically considered SUVs, most of which offer all-wheel drive. It offers a lot of features for the price but struggles when it comes to driving refinement.

Possible competitors include hatchbacks like the Subaru Impreza and Mini Countryman, which have similar features and utility. See the three models compared here.

The Soul's trim levels include the base, Plus and Exclaim, the latter two of which Kia designates "+" and "!." For 2017, each has a different engine. I tested an Exclaim.

Exterior & Styling

The Kia Soul is boxy; given its fairly high ride height, it could be mistaken for an SUV. Its proportions are good and the upright styling helps the Soul stand out in a crowd.
 
The Soul Exclaim has a few styling tweaks to separate it from a regular Soul, including red-accented body trim, a chrome grille surround, a unique tailgate badge and dual chrome twin-tip exhaust.

How It Drives

The Kia Soul Exclaim's all new engine, a 201-horsepow-r, turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder, is the star of the show. It's got 40 more horsepower than the middle engine in the lineup, a 161-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder without a turbo (the Soul's previous top engine). The turbocharged engine gets the best gas mileage of any Soul engine, including the base one: a 130-hp, 1.6-liter four-cylinder.
 
The top engine is paired with a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission. The base has a six-speed manual, while a conventional six-speed automatic is optional on the base and standard on the Plus.

Fuel economy for the turbocharged 1.6-liter engine we tested is rated 26/31/28 mpg city/highway...

Possible competitors include hatchbacks like the Subaru Impreza and Mini Countryman, which have similar features and utility. See the three models compared here.

The Soul's trim levels include the base, Plus and Exclaim, the latter two of which Kia designates "+" and "!." For 2017, each has a different engine. I tested an Exclaim.

Exterior & Styling

The Kia Soul is boxy; given its fairly high ride height, it could be mistaken for an SUV. Its proportions are good and the upright styling helps the Soul stand out in a crowd.
 
The Soul Exclaim has a few styling tweaks to separate it from a regular Soul, including red-accented body trim, a chrome grille surround, a unique tailgate badge and dual chrome twin-tip exhaust.

How It Drives

The Kia Soul Exclaim's all new engine, a 201-horsepow-r, turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder, is the star of the show. It's got 40 more horsepower than the middle engine in the lineup, a 161-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder without a turbo (the Soul's previous top engine). The turbocharged engine gets the best gas mileage of any Soul engine, including the base one: a 130-hp, 1.6-liter four-cylinder.
 
The top engine is paired with a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission. The base has a six-speed manual, while a conventional six-speed automatic is optional on the base and standard on the Plus.

Fuel economy for the turbocharged 1.6-liter engine we tested is rated 26/31/28 mpg city/highway/combined. With the base, non-turbocharged 1.6-liter engine and automatic transmission, the Soul gets an EPA-estimated 25/30/27 mpg; with a manual transmission, it's 24/30/27 mpg. Models with the 2.0-liter engine and six-speed automatic are rated 25/30/27 mpg.
 
The Kia Soul is nice to drive with the turbo engine, though there's a bit of lag from a standstill. It's easily overcome by using the Soul's Sport driving mode, though that can affect mileage over time. In general, though, the Soul offered good power and torque from a standstill and was able to easily pass on the highway, whether in Sport mode or not.
 
The brakes deserve mention because they're better than average for this class. They're strong and exceptionally linear on both application and release, meaning the amount of braking closely matches the pressure you apply on the brake pedal. That's unexpected and appreciated.

The downside of the Kia Soul's driving experience is its ride. Ride quality isn't necessarily firm, it's just "busy," always feeling like it's jittering around. Where you really notice this is when trying to use the touchscreen: Your finger moves around a lot. Unless you anchor your hand, it's easy to miss the button you want. After driving across a highway with a lot of expansion joints, I knew the Kia Soul was not the car I'd want for a long drive.
 

Interior

Given the Exclaim is the Soul's top trim level, it's reasonable to expect a bit nicer interior than in a standard model, and the Exclaim delivers. The cloth and leather-trimmed seats look nice and feel comfortable. (Some of our longer-legged editors noticed a lack of thigh support, but it wasn't an issue for me and I'm more than 6 feet tall.) There's also some nice orange contrast stitching that brightens up the interior's otherwise dark tones.

All in all, I wouldn't go so far as to say the Kia Soul has a top-of-the-line luxury cabin, but it's a nice-looking, well-made interior that's a step above most in the class.
 
Backseat room is a mix of good and bad. There's plenty of legroom, but when I sat up straight, my head brushed the roof. The available panoramic moonroof is nice in that it makes you feel less claustrophobic, but I had to wonder if its presence was cramping my headroom as moonroofs often do.

Lastly, outward visibility is excellent. The Soul's upright styling combines with thin window pillars all around to give you a really great view of what's around you. The Kia Soul's height helps, too, offering a better view of the road than a more car-styled hatchback would provide.
 
The optional panoramic moonroof ($1,000) really brightened up the cabin and was most welcome on the gray, early-winter days when I tested the Soul.

Ergonomics & Electronics

This is another strength of the Soul. Kia's UVO touchscreen multimedia system has always been quick to respond and easy to use, and that's no different here. The system's high-resolution screen and simple, easy-to-read graphics are a boon to usability. And the home screen that allows you to easily choose among a variety of frequently used systems is a treat.

Also, Kia has the right amount of buttons controlling the right things. Heated seats? Button. Heated steering wheel? Button. Zoned climate control? Button. You get the idea. Too often, things like heated seats are on a touchscreen menu, making them harder to find and use. Kia deserves praise.

Finally, our test model included Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. What's interesting is that I used CarPlay less often than in other cars. Why? The in-dash multimedia system was so easy to use. The reason I most often choose to go with CarPlay is to work around poorly designed multimedia systems.
 

Cargo & Storage

The Soul has a smaller cargo area than one might expect from its boxy body; the fairly shallow cargo area behind the backseat is closer in size to a sedan's trunk than a hatchback's cargo area. If cargo-carrying is important to you, be sure to eye the Soul's hatch before buying.

Kia executed the hatch pretty well by mounting the latch low, so it's easier for shorter-statured people to reach and open the liftgate. And I don't think it opens too high for those same folks to close the hatch.
 
The Soul's load floor was also at just the right height: I didn't have to stoop to get things, but nor will shorter folks likely be challenged by the height.

Safety

The 2017 Kia Soul received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's highest rating — good — in its small overlap front test as well as the moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, head restraint and seat tests (see details). For a better look at how the Soul ranks among other small cars in the Institute's test, click here.
 
The Soul doesn't have as many advanced safety features as some competitors. Our test car was equipped with blind spot warning but lacked the Primo option package that adds forward collision warning and lane departure warning to the Plus trims. Despite its available forward collision feature, however, the Soul doesn't include autonomous emergency braking. This is a shortcoming, as competitors like the Subaru Impreza (through its EyeSight system) and the Mini Countryman offer some form of emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.

Value in Its Class

The Soul's sticker price is a bit surprising, if for no other reason than Kia made its name offering cars that were — and in many cases still are — less expensive than its mid-range competitors. But times change, and the Soul — and compact hatchbacks as a whole — haven't been "econoboxes" for some time.
 
Both the Countryman and Impreza are being redesigned for 2017, and while we can't yet compare the driving experience, a look at their features is helpful.

The Kia Soul we drove had $5,000 worth of options, including a heated steering wheel, heated seats front and rear, a panoramic moonroof (itself a $1,000 stand-alone option) and a navigation system, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Its price tag totaled $27,620.

Mini says the Countryman will start at $27,450 (all prices include destination charges) and come standard with a panoramic moonroof, rear parking sensors (which our Soul didn't have) and a sliding and reclining backseat (our Soul didn't have this, either), but no heated front or rear seats and no heated steering wheel.
 
The Impreza's base model 2.0i hatchback starts at $19,215. It features standard, full-time all-wheel drive (not offered on the Soul), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Picking higher trims gets you closer to the same content as the Soul, though as of this writing no version had heated rear seats or a heated steering wheel.

So, based on features and price, the Soul — while expensive — offers features that are competitive or better than what others in the class offer for the same price.
 
Ultimately, the Kia Soul isn't a slam-dunk winner in its segment. It's got a lot of content and is a nice size for maneuvering around the city, plus its visibility is good, but the jittery ride alone would make me test-drive some competitors, as well.


Latest 2017 Soul Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.8)
Performance
(4.8)
Interior Design
(4.8)
Comfort
(4.9)
Reliability
(4.9)
Value For The Money
(4.8)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Awesome!

by Kimd from Andrews NC on August 15, 2018

The car has been great! Comfy, easy on long trips, great on gas.I have driven more expensive cars most of my life,but I doubt I will change from Kia again! Read full review

(5.0)

Great Style & Great Engineering

by Darin71skidoo from South Jordan, Utah on August 12, 2018

This is my second KIA Soul. I probably will stay with this Brand in future. It is very easy to get in & out of, something very important for a 71 yr. old. With the 2.0 L engine, it can stay out of the ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2017 Kia Soul currently has 0 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2017 Kia Soul Base

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Child Seat Anchors (Latch)

Ease of Use
acceptable

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Small Overlap Front - Driver Side

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Hip/Thigh
good
Lower Leg/Foot
good
Overall Evaluation
good
Restraints and Dummy Kinematics
good
Structure and Safety Cage
acceptable
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    120 months / 100,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    60 months / 60,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Kia

Program Benefits

164-point inspection, Carfax vehicle history report, 10-year/unlimited mileage 24-hour roadside assistance including trip-interruption services and lockout assistance

  • Limited Warranty

    10 years / 100,000 miles

    10-year/100,000 mile powertrain limited warranty; towing/rental/travel breakdown benefits; eligible for additional comprehensive mechanical failure. Comprehensive: 12 months/12,000 miles from date of purchase.
  • Eligibility

    Under 5 years / 60,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 164 point inspection and reconditioning.

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Soul received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*

Third-row access

N/A

Infant seat

B

Booster

(second row)

B

Booster

(third row)

N/A

Latch or Latch system

A

Forward-facing convertible

(third row)

N/A

Forward-facing convertible

(second row)

A

Rear-facing convertible

A
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.
For complete details,

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker