$14,550 - $21,947

2019 Kia Soul Performance Review


Performance: 7.4

The 2019 Kia Soul's performance is best described as comfortable yet agile. Its base engine isn't very powerful, but a potent turbocharged engine is available. Fuel economy is below average.

  • "The Soul’s driving experience is on par with similar cars like the Nissan Kicks, Chevy Trax and Hyundai Kona, but it’s the turbocharged engine in the 2019 Kia Soul Exclaim that really wakes this car up." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The 2019 Kia Soul also stands out from other tiny crossovers with its available engine choices that make them more fun to drive. We deduct some points for the resulting unimpressive fuel economy and the unavailability of all-wheel drive, but in our view, the positives well outpace the negatives." -- Edmunds
  • "The 2019 Soul's refinement on the road is a revelation. When the first generation arrived, we thought of the Soul as just an economy car with a funky wrapper, but this latest version is actually a respectable high-speed cruiser, remaining quiet and composed in the fast lane. The suspension's compliance over bumps is likewise greatly improved, ranking with the best at this price, even with the Exclaim model's low-profile 18-in tires." -- Autotrader

Acceleration and Power

The 2019 Kia Soul's standard 130-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine delivers languid acceleration. Thankfully, there are other engines to choose from. The midlevel Plus (+) trim comes with a stronger 161-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Drivers looking to get the most power out of the Soul should consider the high-level Exclaim (!) trim. This Soul’s 201-horsepower, turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine is the most powerful in the lineup.

The base engine is mated to a six-speed manual transmission, and a six-speed automatic is available. The 2.0-liter comes with a six-speed automatic, and the high-level turbocharged engine comes with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Some reviewers dislike the dual-clutch automatic because of its slow shifts.

The standard Soul delivers 24 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway – a below-average rating in the class. With the automatic transmission, fuel economy improves slightly to 26 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. Those are the same numbers you'll get with the turbo-four.

A Soul EV model is also available. It comes with a weak 109-horsepower electric motor, but you won't have to worry about filling up at the gas station. The Soul EV has an all-electric driving range of 111 miles and delivers 124 MPGe in the city and 93 MPGe on the highway.

  • "The base 1.6-liter engine is weaker than the Kia Rio subcompact's unit, and it delivers meager acceleration in the larger Soul. As for the 2.0-liter engine, Kia trumpets its direct-injection technology and improved low-end torque, but it still feels soft, and it sends a fair amount of racket into the otherwise hushed cabin at full throttle. The Soul's turbocharged 1.6-liter engine does the trick, but you'll have to opt for the most expensive trim to get it." -- Autotrader
  • "… some of the fun is sapped from the experience by the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. We found it slow to shift, and random surges of power sometimes made us question if the transmission was fully engaged, even when using the Sport setting." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "In addition to dramatically improving the Soul’s acceleration, the turbocharged engine also makes this Kia a much more appealing option in high-altitude regions, where thinner atmosphere tends to neuter normally aspirated engines." -- New York Daily News (2018)

Handling and Braking

The Soul is a relatively compliant vehicle that’s good at maneuvering through corners. It isn't as athletic of some of its competition, but its performance is good for your daily commute.

  • "Cornering capabilities are better than one would expect from such a tall vehicle." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The Kia Soul is surprisingly agile and, dare we say, even fun on a winding road. It takes a little getting used to, but you can drive it much harder than you'd expect." -- Edmunds
  • "Administered through a thick-rimmed, flat-bottomed wheel, the steering feels good in the driver's hands and delivers faithful, accurate response. However, sharp and crisp are not words I would use to describe it." -- New York Daily News (2018)

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