Driven: Turbo 2017 Kia Soul Exclaim

By Matthew Keegan

2017 Kia Soul Exclaim

2017 Kia Soul Exclaim!

Kia’s unique Soul is now in its ninth year.

The Kia Soul defies easy categorization, but that’s not a bad thing. In a market where so many small cars look the same, the Soul is not quite a car nor is it a crossover SUV. In fact, it is a blend of both. Specifically, it is a front-wheel drive, five-door hatchback with room for up to five.

It took eight-and-one-half years for a Kia Soul to finally make it to my home for testing. I was on hand at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show for the dramatic unveiling of the new model, what underscored just how excited Kia’s staff was. It was a breakthrough vehicle for Kia, a brand eager to reimagine itself with a youth-oriented product. Immediately, it caught on with fans and the Kia brand has benefited immensely since.

2017 Kia Soul

Fast forward to 2017 and the Kia Soul is already in the third year of the second-generation model. You have a choice of three grades — Base ($16,995), Plus (+) $20,695, and Exclaim (!) $23,695, including destination.

2017 Kia Soul Exclaim

One point of clarification before we move on: Kia refers to its middle and top trims with “+” and “!” symbols. For clarification purposes, we’ll reference all three trims with their full names — base, plus, and exclaim.

A 2017 Kia Soul Exclaim was my test model. Kia added both available packages tech ($3,000) and panoramic sunroof ($1,000), bringing the final price to $27,695. Yes, that’s the top end of the segment, but there are more affordable trim and package options available.

Unusual for this segment, Kia offers three engine choices with each one corresponding to the trim chosen.

The Base grade has a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine generating 130 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque. This engine comes paired with a six-speed manual gearbox; opting for the available automatic adds $1,600 to your price. The Base edition paired with the automatic is the fuel mileage leader for the Soul, delivering 26 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.

The Plus grade has a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine with 161 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. This engine comes paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The fuel economy estimate comes in at 25/30 mpg city/highway.

Turbo power moves the Exclaim. Here, Kia adds a turbocharger to the 1.6-liter engine, producing 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. This engine comes paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Moreover, this model makes an EPA-estimated 24/30 mpg city/highway.

Deciphering the Kia Soul

So, let’s head back to the overall model at hand. This vehicle comes from the Hyundai-Kia small car platform and occupies a niche abandoned by other vehicles, including the Nissan Cube and the Scion xB. Its nearest competitor may be the all-new Toyota C-HR, another front-wheel drive only vehicle. Otherwise, cross-shop this model with the Honda HR-V, Fiat 500X, and Business 2 Community, to name a few small SUVs.

The Soul’s sporty looks is an important draw here. Business 2 Community

Source:: Business 2 Community

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