Kia's Soul continues to defy convention. Not only has it outlasted its box-shaped peers, the Scion xB and Nissan Cube, it continues to have strong sales despite the recent boom of subcompact crossovers.
For 2017 the Soul rolls along with a mid-cycle update that introduces new features, styling tweaks, a new performance model, plus three new colours: Caffeine Brown, Mysterious Blue, and Wild Orange.
Part of the Soul's popularity is attributable to its blend of features, practicality, high seating position, and an affordable price tag. Compared to similarly priced subcompact crossovers like the Mazda CX-3, Chevrolet Trax, or even the Honda HR-V, the Soul offers more interior and cargo space thanks to its upright roofline and tailgate.
Despite its small size, the Soul is available with big-car premium features including ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and newly available front power passenger seat. All models feature standard Bluetooth, USB port, trip computer, a wiper de-icer, height-adjustable driver's seat, and power locks and windows; air conditioning and automatic are bundled together. All EX and up trim levels receive a reverse camera, fog lights, keyless entry, cruise control, heated seats, and air conditioning as standard.
Most Souls also get upgraded infotainment systems this year, with the mid-grade EX trim receiving a new 5.0-inch touchscreen, EX+ a 7.0-inch screen, and EX and SX models equipped with the optional Tech package getting an 8.0-inch display with navigation and a new premium speaker system by Harman/Kardon. Models with the 7.0- and 8.0-inch displays get Android Auto, too. Of note: this year will see the return of the illuminated speaker rings, which pulse to the beat of the music.
Kia has also given the Soul an active safety feature upgrade with available blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. Lane-departure warning and forward collision warning are also available but limited to the EX trim level with Tech Package.
Last but not least, the top-of-the-line SX and SX Tech trim levels receive a more potent engine to match the hatchback's sporty appearance. Under the hood is the 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine found in various other Kia products, as well as the Hyundai Veloster Turbo. In this application, it produces 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque and is paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. While this won't make it a serious rival to the VW GTI, Honda Civic Si, or even the similarly-powerful Ford Fiesta ST, performance should be on par with the Nissan Juke.
The Soul SX Turbo also gets unique 18-inch wheels wrapped in low-profile 45-series tires, sports body kit with red exterior grille stripe, dual exhaust, larger front disc brakes, and SX-specific springs and dampers. On the inside, the SX Turbo gets sports seats with cloth and leather upholstery, a flat-bottom steering wheel, contrast interior stitching, and a sport instrument cluster with boost gauge and torque display.
The Soul LX and LX+ are powered by a 1.6-litre direct-injected four-cylinder shared with the Rio. It develops 130 horsepower and 118 lb-ft of torque, and can be paired to a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic, though, the manual transmission is limited to the base LX trim level and is not available with air conditioning. Fuel economy is rated at 9.7 L/100 km city and 7.8 L/100 km highway for the manual version, with the automatic consuming 9.4 and 7.8 respectively. The EX Eco trim level with engine idle-stop was phased out for 2017; the new Niro hybrid hatchback crossover is due later this year.
The upgrade engine featured on Soul EX trims is a 2.0-litre four cylinder that produces 161 horsepower and 149 lb-ft of torque. It's available exclusively with a six-speed automatic. Though larger, the 2.0 offers similar economy to the 1.6 with a 9.5 L/100 km city and 7.8 L/100 km highway rating.
One upgrade Kia hasn't yet made is all-wheel drive. For the time being, all Soul models continue to be front-wheel drive.
Pricing for the 2017 Soul starts at $17,395, with the top-of-the-line SX Turbo Tech selling for $29,995.
This vehicle has not yet been reviewed