The Kia Soul is one of the most recognizable vehicles on the road, and it gets some significant upgrades for 2017. It gets different exterior styling, but the big news for the new Soul Exclaim is the upgraded 1.6-liter turbocharged engine.
It gets more power and torque, and we felt that the moment we drove it. This week, with the holidays approaching, we drove a Titanium Grey 2017 Kia Soul Exclaim.
The Soul Exclaim adds a 1.6-liter turbocharged GDI Engine with 40 more horsepower, and 45 more lb-ft. of torque. It also features redesigned headlights and fog lights, along with the front and rear fascias for a more aggressive appearance. The availability of two dedicated USB charge ports and an 8-way power passenger seat add convenience and comfort.
Features & Options
The 2017 Kia Soul Exclaim ($22,650) has specialized trim and sportier features, including exclusive 18-inch wheels, red-accented body trim, chrome grille surround, unique Soul tailgate badge, and, for the first time, dual chrome twin-tip exhaust.
The Exclaim also gets a standard leather-wrapped, D-shaped steering wheel, push button start with smart key, and UVO with e-Services, integrated with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
The Technology package on our Soul tester ($3,000) included navigation, heated steering wheel, and heated front and rear seats. It also came with a Harman Kardon premium audio system, LED fog lights, LED positioning lights, and Blind Spot monitoring. An extra nice touch was the panoramic sunroof ($1,000).
Total MSRP including destination: $27,620.
Stepping inside the cabin of the Soul reveals a smart, stylish layout. The black with gold contrasting stitching on the seats, dash, and steering wheel is very classy. The heated leather seats have a custom cloth insert that offers plenty of support and bolstering for more spirited driving. The Soul features soft-touch materials, ambient lighting, extended front seat cushions with dual-density foam, sport gauges, controls on the D-shaped steering wheel, round elevated speakers on the dash, and driver-focused controls on the centerstack.
In the back, there’s good legroom and headroom for adults and two can ride comfortably. It’s especially easy for adults to climb in and out of the back seat, as well as the front because of the Soul’s higher profile. The rear hatch opens wide for large cargo items or for loading up your four-legged friends. The 60/40 split folding rear seats fold flat for extra cargo-carrying ability.
Kia makes excellent use of the space that’s available inside.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The Soul Exclaim is powered by a newly-upgraded, 1.6-liter turbocharged Gas Direct Injection (GDI) engine. It produces 201 horsepower, a big bump (+40 horsepower) over the outgoing powerplant. Kia says the Soul Exclaim gets 28 mpg combined, although the EPA has not yet rated the vehicle.
The turbo engine is coupled with a new 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT).
The big complaint Kia heard from journalists and owners of the Soul was that it was underpowered. That’s all changed with the upgraded and more powerful engine. Fans of the Soul had long lobbied for a little more zip in their favorite ride and Kia listened. The first time we stepped on the gas to get on the highway we could tell. The turbo kicks in and the extra 40 horsepower is on tap to enjoy.
The Soul feels more athletic than the outgoing model, or it could just be the power makes it feel a bit sportier. The compact runabout is still a good commuter and you can zip in-and-around traffic quite easily. You get the sense of a high driving position and the visibility is good out the back and sides to see traffic all around.
While many automakers are using the continuously variable automatic transmission, Kia chose a sweet new 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT), which offers up quick and smooth shifts. It provides for more dynamic acceleration and contributes to a more engaging driving experience.
The ride is surprisingly stable in the curves and there’s less head-toss than you would expect from a high-profile, short wheelbase body style. The suspension is tight and it handles well when taking corners faster than normal. On the open road the ride is comfortable, but road noise is apparent while driving.
The Soul feels like a new vehicle with its new 1.6-liter engine. It offers up everything a city-dweller would need. It’s got a comfortable, roomy cabin, and the rear hatch offers excellent utility. For a city commuter, the Soul Exclaim makes a statement. Overall, is has excellent power and is a 6.5 of 10 on the fun-to-drive meter.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy