Only one of the two original box-shaped cars of the 2000s remains, and not only is the Soul still around, but it’s thriving. It’s hard to make something great even better, but Kia did when they decided to add a 201 HP turbocharged engine to one of its best-selling, most-iconic vehicles. Fans of the Soul have long asked for a little more zip in their favorite ride and the 2017 Soul ! does just that.
Under the hood is a 1.6-liter turbo engine, pumping out the aforementioned 201 HP, while fuel economy is rated at 28 mpg combined—besting the combined mileage of the 2.0-liter normally-aspirated 161-hp engine in the Soul Plus and in the Soul Base 1.6-liter, which produces 130 horsepower. We averaged spot on to the EPA ratings.
Kia went a step further in the turbocharged model with the addition of a new 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT), which, via quicker and smoother shift points and no shift shock, makes the Soul more fun to drive. Who would’ve thought the boxy Soul would be this much fun?
In addition to the turbo engine, the Soul ! includes exclusive 18-inch wheels, red-accented body trim, chrome grille surround, unique Soul tailgate badging, and for the first time on Soul, dual chrome twin-tip exhaust.
Handling is commendable, and the ride is a bit on the firm side, especially noticeable over bumpy roads and expansion joints. We’re not sure if that’s more suspension tuning or the 18-inch wheels.
Inside, the Soul ! gets a sporty leather-wrapped, D-shaped steering wheel, pushbutton start with smart key and UVO3 e-Services with integrated Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. We have to hand it to Kia for adopting both smartphone OS interfaces early on.
Our tester didn’t come with the optional 315-watt Harmon Kardon audio system, but we hear (get it?) that it’s thumping! We were a bit surprised to see Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Blind Spot Detection not standard on the ! trim level, but they’re at least available.
Soul’s redesigned projector headlights and fog lights, along with front and rear fascias lend a more aggressive appearance while the availability of two dedicated USB charge ports and an 8-way power passenger seat add convenience and comfort.
Kia definitely hit the Soul’s refresh out of the park, and we hope that advanced accident prevention tech becomes standard in the near future.
|Summary Scorecard (1-10)
|Ride and Handling
|Powertrain and Fuel Economy
|Interior Fit and Finish
|Gauges and Controls
Trim Level: !
Engine: 1.6L 4-Cylinder
Transmission: 7-Speed Auto
Base Price: $22,650
As-Tested Price: $23,620