2017 Kia Soul Turbo Review

Written by Anqoinette Crosby

Soul Turbo's Arrival

Just when you thought automakers couldn’t reinvent the wheel, Kia comes along and redefines a once stale segment. Some are now dubbing cars like this “TUV,” which stands for ‘tiny utility vehicle.’ Think of it as an even tidier-sized sibling to a small SUV.

Further, the 2018 Kia Soul Turbo is pretty much in a class all by itself. Unlike so many of the other box cars introduced over a decade ago, which have now fallen by the wayside, the Soul has proven itself to have staying power,  

According to Kia’s press materials, the petite powerhouse was designed to look like a boar wearing a backpack to attract young urban hipsters. And though the funky little runabout has attracted just as much grey hair as purple, the Kia does demonstrate boxy doesn’t have to be square and boars can be interesting (see what I did there?).

When the Kia Soul Turbo arrived in my driveway, it felt like Christmas in July. Like a kid eager to open a new toy, I hopped inside the wee wagon and took a look around. I was quickly impressed by the way the vibe of the sporty exterior is seamlessly carried inside.

The Soul Turbo also offers a nice assortment of convenience features. These include a rear camera displayed on a seven-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, navigation, and an assortment of practical apps, all of which are also displayed on the touchscreen. You’ll be thumpin’ and bumpin’ too, thanks to the six-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system.

Getting back to that utility thing for a minute; this wee wagon has interior space galore. It may look playful, but the Soul will also put in the work. Taking advantage of its largesse in this regard, I hauled around elaborate centerpieces, super-sized balloons, potted plants and musical instruments to facilitate a friend’s annual summer shindig. I wasn’t initially certain the Soul Turbo would able to handle everything I planned to carry. Then I folded the back seat flat and discovered some 60 cubic feet of cargo capacity.

 I was in “haul” heaven y’all!

Driving the Soul Turbo at times can seem a bit clunky as if it could use more shock absorption. I felt the bumps in the road, however this isn’t a disqualifier because the ride quality and driving experience aren’t so vastly different from other small “SUVs” in its class. Further, at Soul’s itty-bitty price point, I’ll happily shift my drive mode preference into Sport, which is accessed on the steering wheel. In the Kia’s favor, the driver’s seat is especially comfortable and hugged me firmly at the hips and shoulders, which always makes me feel more secure, especially when I’m taking sharp corners.

Speaking of sharp corners, I’m a bit obsessed with tight turning radii. It’s probably because I’m often in and out of parking garages where it’s always a tight squeeze. Plus, my driving routes often include U-turns and it’s embarrassing when you attempt one your car can’t clear. Because of these concerns, I reserve a place in my heart for cars capable of making tight turns easily.

On the other hand, if it’s speed you need, the turbocharger in this high-topped tennis shoe-shaped runabout is only going to give you so much. The 1.6 -liter turbocharged inline-four cylinder engine delivers 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. While this is adequate, the turbo doesn’t exactly set your soul on fire. Power is routed to the front wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission. Combined fuel economy is rated at 28 mpg.

Yes, it is hip to be square—as long as you’re not in a real hurry to get somewhere.

Pricing for the 2018 Kia Soul Turbo starts at $23,500.

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