2017 Kia Soul: Does the Style Have Substance?

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The Kia Soul is cute. It’s the kind of car kids love to point at because it doesn’t look like every other car on the road. It’s boxy, yet manages to come off as almost huggable. The Soul is an instantly appealing car.

Yet, driving a car isn’t about looks alone. There needs to be some substance behind those looks or it gets tiring pretty fast. If your adorable little car is uncomfortable, underpowered, or noisy, the love affair will be over before you hit the first 100 miles.

Looking for a Kia Soul? Check out BestRide’s listings search here.

The Kia Soul absolutely nails it in the design department with a unique style that extends from its exterior to a comfortable interior. Seating is supportive all around and that square roofline leaves ample room for even the tallest rear passengers.

It also creates a rear seating space that easily accommodates car seats with plenty of room for kids to stay out of each other’s way. Older kids will also appreciate the room. No worries about accidentally crossing the imaginary line that runs down the middle of the car dividing one child’s turf from the other’s.

Cargo capacity is ample with 24.2 cubic feet behind the rear seats. Fold those 60/40-split seats down and there’s 61.3 cubic feet. This is a versatile crossover with plenty of room for the kids and cargo.

The materials are surprisingly good, too, especially when you consider this top trim Soul! (trim levels are Base, +, and !) came in at only $23,695. This included a fully-featured infotainment system with an optional technology package that adds an 8-inch display, navigation, and a premium Hardon Kardon audio system.

There are heated seats front and back, panoramic sunroof, and a sporty D-shaped, leather-wrapped steering wheel that is also heated. It doesn’t look or feel like it costs so little.

The drive itself is comfortable without much wind noise despite its boxy design. Road noise is more noticeable, but it’s still muted enough that it’s not an annoyance.

Power for the Soul! comes from a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine paired to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. If there’s a weakness in the Soul, then this is it. It’s slow off the line and when pressed for power at highway speeds it simply doesn’t deliver. The transmission is also disappointing with a tendency to lurch through gear shifts during hard acceleration.

Despite the lackluster performance, it does handle well. It might look like a box, but it’s not top-heavy or awkward. Whether navigating traffic at high speeds or winding through country roads, it’s a nice car to drive.

Looking for a Kia Soul? Check out BestRide’s listings search here.

The Kia Soul stands out first for its unique looks, but continues to impress with ample passenger and cargo space. Despite disappointing performance, it’s still a nice car to drive with a price point that’s hard to beat.

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Nicole Wakelin

Nicole Wakelin