2017 Kia Soul Overview
Pros & Cons
- Massive cargo space
- Upscale interior
- Abundant passenger room
- Weak base engine
- Below-average fuel economy
Notable for 2017
- New turbocharged engine in Exclaim trim
- Android Auto and Apple CarPlay now available
- Slight external design refresh
Kia Soul Rankings and Research
The 2017 Kia Soul ranking is based on its score within the Compact Cars category. Currently the Kia Soul has a score of 8.9 out of 10 which is based on our evaluation of 38 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.
2017 Kia Soul Pictures
2017 Kia Soul Review
The 2017 Kia Soul’s distinctive look will help you stand out from the crowded compact class. It’s not just about looks, though. The Soul also combines nearly all of the qualities that most shoppers are looking for when considering a small car: an outstanding amount of cargo room, spacious seats, a low starting price, and an available turbocharged engine.
Is the Kia Soul a Good Car?
The 2017 Kia Soul is a five-seat, front-wheel-drive hatchback that comes in three trim levels: base, Plus (+), and Exclaim (!). Regardless of which model you choose, you'll enjoy near best-in-class cargo space and a cavernous amount of passenger room. The cabin utilizes quality materials and a pleasing design that should make every trip pleasant. With superb safety scores and one of the longest warranties in the industry, the Soul makes a strong case for a safe and reliable daily driver. Add in overall utility that rivals some crossovers or subcompact SUVs, and the Soul should meet most, if not all, of your needs. The Soul is one of the few compact cars that can easily handle family duty. In fact, it has the best combination of positive reviews, space, and available family-friendly features in its class, which is why it won the 2017 Best Compact Car for Families Award. The Soul is not only a great car, but it’s also a great value. It’s the 2017 Best Compact Car for the Money because it has the best combination of quality and value in the class.
Should I Buy the Kia Soul?
If you are looking for a small car that's affordable, reliable, safe, and spacious, the Kia Soul is a great pick. It's one of the cheapest cars you can buy – with one of the lowest starting prices in our compact car rankings – while making few compromises in quality. With a touch-screen display, a rearview camera, and an energetic engine, the mid-level Soul Plus (+) is an even better value.
Despite the Soul's animated appearance, this is not a sporty car. You can get peppier acceleration with the Plus (+) or Exclaim (!) trims, which come with more powerful engines than the base model. The Soul's suspension is tuned to emphasize comfort, though, so while it delivers a very smooth ride, it's not dynamic. If you're looking to have more fun behind the wheel, you may want to consider a Mazda3 or Volkswagen GTI instead.
We Did the Research for You: 36 Pieces of Data Analyzed
The internet is brimming with so many reviews and comparisons that it's easy to feel like you're drowning in information. We can be your lifesaver, giving you the details you need to know without any of the extra hype. To start, we analyze crash tests, fuel ratings, and predicted reliability scores from trustworthy organizations. We then add in evaluations by reputable automotive journalists. Altogether, that's 36 pieces of data we combine to create the Kia Soul's overall score and to compare it with other models in our rankings.
Why You Can Trust Us
Our focus at U.S. News & World Report is to guide our readers through some of their biggest life decisions, be it finding the right car, college, home, or hospital. Our automotive team has been ranking and reviewing cars for nearly a decade, and we have 75 years of combined experience. We strive to abide by U.S. News' 83-year-old creed of delivering impartial, accurate information. Because we don't accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies – like many other automotive shopping sites – you can trust that our reviews are balanced and unbiased.
How Much Does the Kia Soul Cost?
The Kia Soul's MSRP starts at $16,100, making it one of the least expensive picks in our rankings of the best compact cars. Among other hatchbacks, the Soul is also priced below the class average. If you do need to find cheaper wheels than the Soul, you could try looking in the subcompact car class. The Nissan Versa, for instance, starts at less than $12,000.
The base Soul offers a decent value, as it comes standard with niceties like Bluetooth, satellite radio, and a USB port. A bit surprisingly, the Soul doesn't have a standard rearview camera, though many other compact cars include this in every model. A manual transmission comes standard in the base Soul, and you can upgrade to an automatic transmission for $1,600 if you prefer.
The trim with the best value is the Soul Plus (+). Besides adding a rearview camera, this trim comes standard with an automatic transmission and a more powerful engine, while also delivering slightly better gas mileage. Other notable standard features with this trim include automatic climate control, a 5-inch touch-screen audio display, and cruise control (all of which are unavailable in the base Soul). Pricing sees a modest increase to $19,800.
The top-level trim – the Soul Exclaim (!) – starts at $22,650. While this is quite a bit higher than the cost of the base Soul, it's still less than the average maximum cost for compact cars. For example, the highest trim of the Volkswagen Golf starts at $40,475, and you can pay as much as $36,120 for the top Ford Focus model, though keep in mind that these prices are for the high-performance variants of these models, of which the Soul does not have an equivalent.
Pricing has not yet been announced for the 2017 Kia Soul EV, but its different trims will likely cost in the low to mid-$30,000 range. If you are eligible for the federal income tax credit, your cost on this all-electric model can be reduced by as much as $7,500.
Use our Best Price Program to build and price your Kia Soul and get great savings from your local Kia dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Kia deals page, which we update every month.
Kia Soul Versus the Competition
Which Is Better: Kia Soul or Hyundai Elantra?
The Kia Soul and the Hyundai Elantra both come from South Korea (Hyundai Motor Company owns about a third of Kia Motors Corporation). One benefit of this joint relationship is that both cars carry one of the longest warranties available, including powertrain coverage for up to 10 years or 100,000 miles.
Beyond these connections, these two cars share very little in common, and the Soul stands out as the better option. To start, you can get the hatchback Soul for as little as $16,100, while the sedan-style Elantra is about $1,050 more expensive. Hyundai's hatchback Elantra GT is even pricier, at $18,800. More importantly, in our current rankings of the best compact cars, the Soul outscores the Elantra in every category. The Soul performs better in interior and performance, offers more room for cargo and passengers (even though the Elantra is about 17 inches longer), and gets better gas mileage with its base engine. The Elantra was completely redesigned for 2017, and it has a lower predicted reliability rating than the Soul. The Soul's final gold star is its safety score; it outperforms the Elantra in crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
You can learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of each carmaker by checking out Kia vs. Hyundai: Battle of the Brands.
Which Is Better: Kia Soul or Volkswagen Golf?
When comparing the Volkswagen Golf and the Kia Soul, it comes down to whether playfulness or practicality is more important to you. The Golf is more fun to drive; its standard 170-horsepower turbocharged engine should liven up your daily commute or routine errand running. It has good acceleration and power both from a stop and at full speed, and it beats out the Soul in fuel economy at 25 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. The cabin is a pleasant place to be, with front seats that provide all-day comfort and plenty of surrounding support for long drives. While the Soul is skimpy on standard equipment, the Golf comes with features like a rearview camera, a 6.5-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and VW's Car-Net infotainment system.
Yet even with the Golf's accolades, the Soul makes much more sense because of its value, safety, and durability. You'll save almost $4,000 on the base Soul over the base Golf. Another option is to step up to the Soul Plus (+), which costs about the same as a base Golf and gives you a similar list of amenities. The Soul has significantly higher safety scores, and based on each model's current predicted reliability scores, it's likely to be more reliable than a Golf.
How Many People Does the Soul Seat?
The Kia Soul can hold five people and comes standard with cloth seats. You can upgrade to a combination of cloth and leather for a sporty feeling, or to total leather for a touch of luxury. Both the front and rear seats can be heated, and ventilated front seats are optional too.
One look at the Soul's distinctive boxy shape should tell you all you need to know about this hatchback's utility. The cabin is open and airy, and it provides some of the most ample passenger room in the class. You and all your guests should have plenty of headroom thanks to the high roof, and occupants in the back will be able to stretch their legs out.
Soul and Car Seats
Anyone transporting small children will appreciate the ease of use of the Soul's LATCH child-seat hardware, which includes lower anchors on the outboard seats and top tether anchors on all three rear seats. However, only two car seats can fit comfortably in the back. The top tether anchors are clearly marked from any other hardware on the back of the seat, and there is enough room to move your hands around when hooking into the lower anchors.
Soul Interior Quality
The 2017 Kia Soul's interior scores are among the highest in our compact car rankings, due in no small part to its cabin aesthetics. Nearly all surfaces are soft to the touch, and the materials used are impressively high quality. This is in contrast to low-rent or cheap plastics found in some other budget-oriented compact cars. Furthermore, the Soul is solidly put together, increasing its premium feel.
Soul Cargo Space
The Soul has more cargo space than nearly every one of its rivals. You'll get 24.2 cubic feet of space regularly, and 61.3 cubic feet if you fold the second row down. Be warned, though, the seats don't fold completely flat with the floor. The Volkswagen Golf also offers large amounts of space: 22.8 cubic feet with the second row up and 52.7 cubic feet with it folded down. The Soul even beats out almost all subcompact SUVs when it comes to cargo space. The leader in that class, the Honda HR-V, has 24.3 cubic feet of room with the rear seats up and 58.8 cubic feet with the seats folded. The only downside here is that, unlike most subcompact SUVs, the Soul is unavailable with all-wheel drive.
Soul Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation
Kia's UVO infotainment system comes in higher trim levels, with either a 7- or 8-inch touch screen. The base trim has a smaller 5-inch screen as an option, while the 5-inch screen is standard in the mid-level trim. The interface is user-friendly, with buttons and menus that are simple to navigate. Other controls and functions are arranged logically and easy to operate. The UVO system also includes navigation, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. With the latter two features, you can sync your smartphone to UVO and access familiar features like apps, media, contacts, and messaging, all on the main touch screen. The integrated navigation functions smoothly and is incredibly simple to use.
Soul Engine: New Turbo Kia Soul
The 2017 Kia Soul comes standard with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out a measly 130 horsepower. That's about average for base models in the compact car class. You might wonder if the famous dancing hamsters are powering that engine by running on a wheel, because it feels rather weak for most driving situations. If you want a manual transmission, though, this is the only Soul that offers it. You can also opt for a six-speed automatic.
A larger 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission comes in the mid-range Plus (+) trim level. With 161 horsepower, it's more capable of getting you where you need to go. However, it can emit a loud droning noise under heavy acceleration.
The big news surrounding the 2017 Soul is the addition of a turbocharged engine into the top-of-the-line Exclaim (!) trim. At 1.6 liters and four cylinders, it puts out 201 horsepower. That results in much better acceleration from a stop, and it can get up to high speeds quickly. Once cruising, though, there's not that much of a difference over the 2.0 engine. The turbo engine is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that shifts aggressively and helps with acceleration, but the shifts themselves aren't particularly crisp.
Soul Gas Mileage: Below-Average Fuel Rating
Fuel economy from the Soul's base engine is below average for the class, at 24 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. The good news is that fuel efficiency actually increases with the more powerful engines. The 2.0-liter engine in the Soul Plus (+) gets an estimated 25 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway, and the Soul Exclaim's (!) turbocharged engine delivers 26/31 mpg city/highway.
You have a few different options if you want to shrink your fuel costs further. First, consider a competitor like the Honda Civic hatchback, which gets up to 31/40 mpg city/highway when outfitted with an automatic transmission. You'll save about $300 in fuel costs each year over the Soul Plus (+) and spend about the same on your starting price (at $20,500).
You can cut your costs in half with the all-electric Soul EV. With its 93-mile range (and 105 mpg-equivalent), the EPA estimates it costs about $600 each year for the average driver to charge a Soul EV, in comparison to the base Soul's projected $1,150 annual fuel cost. You pay a premium up-front for these savings, as the Soul EV's starting price (without the available federal income tax credit) is in the low $30,000s.
Soul Ride and Handling: Balanced Behind the Wheel
The Soul doesn't pretend to be an overly sporty compact car – rivals like the Mazda3 and Volkswagen GTI have that segment covered – but you should still be impressed by its driving dynamics. Handling is poised, especially around turns. The Soul stays solidly planted to the road, and it doesn't lean or roll as much as you would expect given its shape. Over uneven pavement or bumps in the road, the Soul rides smoothly and stays quiet.
Soul Drivetrain: Front-Wheel Drive Only
The Kia Soul is currently only available with front-wheel drive. There is no available all-wheel-drive option. Pickings are slim in the compact car class if you want a model with all-wheel drive, as most cars come only with front-wheel drive. When it comes to getting a small car with extra grip, the Subaru Impreza stands out, thanks to its $18,395 starting price and standard all-wheel drive. Many subcompact SUVs also offer all-wheel drive, so if that is a feature you're looking for, continue your search there.
Soul Dimensions and Weight
From end to end, the Kia Soul measures 163 inches, or about 13.5 feet. The base Soul trim has a 2,884-pound curb weight (typical for this class). With its larger engine and heavier transmission, the Soul Exclaim (!) tips the scales at 3,232 pounds. In all Soul trims, ground clearance is 5.9 inches.
The Soul's unique shape grants this car a compact footprint while simultaneously maximizing its interior space. This means you'll have an easier time parking a Soul than you will longer cars like the Volkswagen Golf, Honda Civic hatchback, and Mazda3, yet you’ll still have ample room for your passengers and gear.
Is the Kia Soul Reliable?
J.D. Power and Associates rates the Soul at 4.5 out of five for predicted reliability, which means the 2017 Soul will likely be much more reliable than the average small car.
Kia Soul Warranty
Kia covers the 2017 Soul with a five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. That's the same as the Hyundai Elantra's warranty and much better than what you'll get with the VW Golf (a three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty).
Soul Crash Test Results
The 2017 Kia Soul gets a five-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and perfect crash test scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. A few other cars in the class also perform admirably in physical crash evaluations. The Honda Civic, for example, gets the highest possible scores from both safety organizations, and it's an IIHS Top Safety Pick.
Soul Safety Features
No active safety features come standard in the Kia Soul, which is a bit unusual. Currently about half of the cars in the class have a standard rearview camera, ahead of the government’s mandate that every new car have one by 2018. You can add a rearview camera as an option in the base trim, but to get other driver assistance features you’ll have to spring for a higher model and then purchase a package as well.
Available driver assistance features include forward collision warning, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert. Technologies like blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert warn you when vehicles are approaching your sides or crossing behind you, and lane departure warning alerts you if you begin to drift out of your lane unintentionally. Forward collision warning implores you to hit the brakes if the system senses a potential impact ahead.
Which Kia Soul Model Is Right for Me?
With a starting price of $16,100, the base Kia Soul comes with the lowest price tag in our compact car rankings. Before you get too excited, though, note you may want to skip the base model in favor for one of the upper Soul trim levels. Accompanying this bargain-basement price are very few standard features, a timid engine, and no available packages.
Instead, opt for one of two higher trims that feature more powerful engines and amenities like an infotainment system, more luxurious seating, and hipper styling. The caveat is that starting prices jump up by as much as $6,700 from the base trim to the top-level trim. The ideal middle ground is the Soul Plus (+) and its $19,800 starting price. This trim swaps out the restrained base powertrain for a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission, boosting horsepower from 130 to 161. Also included with the Soul Plus (+) are automatic climate control, a rearview camera, a 5-inch touch-screen audio display, and cruise control.
The Soul's highest Exclaim (!) trim – also referred to as the Soul Turbo – roars onto the 2017 scene with a new turbocharged engine and a $22,800 price tag. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are new options in both upper-level trims, and Kia has slightly refreshed the outside styling. Other than that, though, the Soul carries over with no major changes since its redesign for the 2014 model year.
Each Soul model has a different engine and transmission combination, but all come with front-wheel drive. Powering the base Soul is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and a six-speed manual transmission. If you don't like shifting your own gears, you can upgrade to a six-speed automatic transmission for $1,560. Standard features include cloth seating, a six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, a USB port, and satellite radio. That's equal to or better than what you'll get with the similarly priced Kia Forte ($16,600) and Ford Focus ($16,775).
Besides getting a more powerful engine and automatic transmission along with extras like a rearview camera and touch-screen display, you also have the opportunity to add different packages to the $19,800 Soul Plus (+), which you can’t do in the base model. You also have 11 exterior paint options to choose from – more than in any other trim.
The UVO Package ($1,000) includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, two USB ports, proximity-key entry, a push-button ignition, and the UVO infotainment system with a 7-inch touch-screen display, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. The Audio Package retails for $2,000 and includes everything from the UVO Package, while upgrading the screen to 8 inches and adding a Harman Kardon premium audio system, navigation, and HD Radio. For $4,000, the Primo Package comes with leather seats, a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, an eight-way power-adjustable passenger seat, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a panoramic sunroof, a 4.3-inch digital instrument cluster display, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning. You can also add remote start for $425.
The Exclaim (!) trim starts at $22,800. It boasts a new powertrain for 2017: a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine along with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Standard features include combination cloth/leather seats, a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel and shift knob, the 7-inch touch-screen UVO infotainment system, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a 4.3-inch digital instrument cluster display, proximity-key entry, and a push-button ignition. The available Tech Package ($3,000) adds heated front and rear seats, a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, an 8-way power-adjustable passenger seat, a heated steering wheel, HID headlights, two USB ports, a Harman Kardon premium audio system, an 8-inch touch screen, navigation, HD Radio, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert. You can add a panoramic sunroof for another $1,000 or remote start for $425.
Consumers in certain states will have the option to purchase the all-electric Kia Soul EV. Before adding options, pricing for these trims will likely range between the low and mid-$30,000s, though this can be reduced if you are able to take advantage of the $7,500 federal income tax credit.
With 109 horsepower, the Soul EV is a good choice for a commuter or city car. It has a range of 93 miles on a single charge, which is about average for most mainstream electric cars. As EVs continue to improve, though, some affordable rivals are providing extraordinary ranges. For example, the all-new Chevy Bolt can go 238 miles on a single charge. Charging the Soul fully will take about 24 hours from a standard 110-volt wall outlet. You can use a 240-volt adapter to reduce charge time to under five hours.
If you're looking to reduce your carbon footprint, check out our slideshow of The World's Coolest Battery-Electric Vehicles. And if this will be your first EV, take a look at 6 Questions to Ask Before You Buy an Electric Car to make sure it is a good fit for your lifestyle.
Kia Soul Colors
The Kia Soul is available in 11 different colors, including two new additions for 2017: Mysterious Blue and Russet Brown. For the base model, you can go Martian-green with Alien 2, or select a more traditional Clear White, Bright Silver, or Shadow Black. The Soul Plus (+) has the most color options, adding Inferno Red, Titanium Gray, and Caribbean Blue to the above list. It's also available with two-tone paint in either White and Red or Inferno Red and Black. Available exterior colors for the Soul Exclaim (!) include Clear White, Bright Silver, Shadow Black, Inferno Red, and Titanium Gray.
Who Makes the Kia Soul?
Kia Motors Corporation makes the Kia Soul. Its headquarters is in Seoul, South Korea, which also serves as the center of operations for Hyundai Motor Company. These two carmakers, the largest in Korea, joined together in 1998, and Hyundai currently owns about a third of Kia. The Soul was designed at Kia's design and technical center in Irvine, California, and is built at Kia's Gwangju plant in South Korea.
The Final Call
If you're looking for a small car with a small price, plus style, lots of cargo space, and a generous seating area, the base Kia Soul is a great option. Among its shortcomings is its timid base engine, so be sure to take this model for an extensive test drive to make sure it has enough power to suit you.
If it fits your budget, the Soul Plus (+) offers a better value and a peppier engine. Its $3,700 price increase is pretty reasonable when you consider that this trim comes with an automatic transmission (a $1,600 option in the base model) and perks like a rearview camera and cruise control. With almost three times as many available paint colors as the base trim, you have many more options to personalize your Soul Plus (+).
Spirited drivers will be salivating over the new engine powering the Exclaim (!) trim: a soulful 201-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder. As the premier Soul trim, the Exclaim (!) treats you to leather trimmings, a 7-inch touch screen, and enhanced smartphone integration. Moving up to this model adds about $6,700 to your cost over the base Soul. This is still well within the affordable range, though, and is considerably below the price of similarly spunky rivals like the Subaru WRX ($26,695).
Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.
- "The Soul has been a great ambassador for Kia, and it's nice to see that the spunky little crossover continues to get attention and upgrades from the home office. Soul Turbo is the best-driving edition of the model yet and may attract converts who were on the fence about it before, especially among young enthusiasts." -- Autotrader
- "The Kia Soul is an attractive, practical, and well-rounded box (however oxymoronic that sounds), no matter the trim level. We could easily be upsold to the Soul Turbo. While it's not the sharp-edged hot hatch some might be hoping for from Kia, the Soul with a bit more pep in its step is fun to drive and an appealing overall package with lots of practicality baked in." -- Car and Driver
- "The 2017 Kia Soul finally receives the one thing it's lacked since the first hamster-driven 5-door hatchback appeared on our streets: horsepower. The top-level 2017 Soul Exclaim now boasts a 201-horsepower turbocharged 1.6 4-cylinder that finally delivers the kind of driving fun the Kia Soul's funky styling and marketing long promised. Beyond extra power and better handling, the entire Soul lineup gets updated with available Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, blind-spot detection, additional USB inputs and more. It makes a 2017 Soul a compelling alternative not just to subcompact SUVs like the Fiat 500X or Mini Cooper Countryman, but also the Mazda3, Chevrolet Cruze and Honda Civic hatchbacks, especially with an excellent 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and a starting price of about $17,000." -- Kelley Blue Book
Research Prices: 2017 Kia Soul
Over 75,000 car shoppers have purchased a car through the U.S. News Best Price Program. Our pricing beats the national average 86% of the time with shoppers receiving average savings of $3,279 off MSRP across vehicles. See what others paid for the Kia Soul and get upfront pricing to make sure you don't overpay. Learn More »