You really miss the original Scion xB for its combination of funky style, affordable price and enormous practicality all in a package that makes you smile giddily. The Kia Soul has arguably been the spiritual successor for some time now.
Today, half way through it’s second generation, the Kia Soul has gotten a healthy dose of updates including a burst of horsepower from its newly available 1.6-liter turbocharged engine in the Soul!
Our test drive of the new and sportier Soul! Shows that it is indeed now possible to have the four-wheeled equivalent to a toaster and have it be fun to drive too.
To start with, the Kia Soul! is the top trim grade now and the only version the new 201 horsepower 1.6-liter turbo engine can be found in.
Dressing it up are new lower fascias front and rear that are more premium and sporting in design. A red accent stripe spans between its large fog lamps and down the side rockers between its painted 18-inch wheels. At the rear is a first for the Kia Soul, a dual chrome tipped exhaust pipe.
The cabin is lined with premium seating trims of leather and a sturdy cloth. It’s all spiced up with handsome orange accents and accent stitching. Nice as it looks it’s a surprise the accent was not red to match the exterior themes.
Though the Soul! is well equipped with climate control, 7-inch touchscreen audio with UVO suite, and power driver seat you can option packages that raise the bar to include full leather seating, panoramic roof, Harman-Kardon audio and a lot more.
The touchscreen audio system here however is more than adequate with its easy to use menus and full connectivity options including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Sound quality is decent, but if you are an audiophile you will want to step up.
Seating is comfortable both front and rear, where the seating position his high enough for a more SUV-like feel. Head room is more than generous regardless of where you sit.
Power from the 1.6-liter GDI turbocharged engine is snappy and urgent, belting down its force through a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Turbo lag is minimal and it revs with a free spirited happiness that fits the personality of the Soul well.
There is a bit of torque steer under full acceleration and the transmission itself is a bit less refined than some when in stop and go traffic. Switching to Sport mode however makes it quite a good friend.
Fuel efficiency is one of its virtues however. It’s rated by the EPA at 26 mpg city, 31 mph highway and 28 mpg combined. In our week we achieved a stellar 32 mpg combined which makes it somewhat ok that’s it’s transmission is always trying to save fuel by keeping revs low.
Handling for every day driving has always been a hallmark of the Soul with a suspension tuned for refinement and a light feel. Here with larger brakes and larger tires, it is a nice balance of sporting intentions and a comfortable ride.
Priced at $23,620 our tester had no options or additional packages, making it a pretty fair value when you consider all it has for the money. Having few competitors to really put it up against doesn’t hurt either.