“2017 Kia Soul Turbo !”
The “Hamstars” get a Boost
The 2017 Kia Soul Turbo has upped its level of soul for the new model year, adding a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine to its lineup. The Hamsters (“Hamstars”) who represent the already iconic vehicle in clever commercials now have more power – 45 more horses to be exact, thanks to the turbocharging. The new Kia Soul Turbo isn’t radically different in its design form, which some refer to as cute, which also fits the Hamsters description.
Commercialism aside, this latest iteration Kia Soul is better looking and presents a new way to roll, with a modest freshening of its iconic design form. Several styling cues were taken from the two-door concept “Track’ster” vehicle that recently made the auto show circuit.
The interior has undergone a refinement process, and cargo volume has been increased for the new Soul up to 24.2 cubic feet. Ingress and egress has been improved along with reductions in NVH (noise, vibration and Harshness).
The 2017 Kia Soul will continue to be offered in three levels of trim: Base; Plus (+) and Exclaim (!). All are available in a vibrant and playful color palette with names like Solar Yellow, Kale Green and Inferno Red. There are sporty new wheel designs that contribute to the dynamicsm of the funky “boxy” car segment competition. The car’s stance is upright, with squared off shoulders and prominent fender flares. The wheelbase is 101.2-inches, and the width is 70.9-inches, while the overall height is now 63.5-inches. The wraparound greenhouse, high-mounted taillights are all hallmarks of the Soul’s design flavor.
Available premium touches such as LED front positioning lights and rear LED “halo” lights help to connect Soul with siblings in the Kia lineup that share similar design cues. Similar cues to the Track’ster’s exterior are easy to spot, such as the large trapezoidal lower air intake, and the location of the available fog lights, positioned down low and pushed to the outer leading edges. Kia’s signature grille was reworked to more closely resemble the concept. Adding a touch of flare, the unique “floating” body-color panel inset into the lift gate originated with the Track’ster as well
Inside, the Soul’s seating provides ample lateral and thigh support and available leather trim. High-gloss piano-black trim pieces on the center console and dash interior add levels of sophistication. Focusing on the current Soul interior as a starting point, Kia’s designers emphasized the circular theme found inside Track’ster. Front and center is the instrument cluster with deeply recessed gauges. Along the door panels, sculpted circles incorporate the power windows and door locks. The center console features a round gear shift knob and push-button start (its location exclusive to Soul in the Kia lineup), which are also direct carryovers from Track’ster. The front door-mounted speakers mirror the circular, high-mounted “floating” tweeters and utilize available LED-string light technology to create a ripple effect, red-hued, mood lighting. The steering-wheel mounted controls are housed in Soul-exclusive circular groupings along the lower spokes with the buttons for the audio system and trip computer falling readily to the thumbs, enabling the driver’s hands to remain on the wheel at all times. The overall effect is organic.
Soul’s instrument panel offers an available eight-inch touch screen, as well as UVO eServices, Kia’s second-generation infotainment and telematics system. Positioned side-by-side for the first time in a Kia vehicle, the audio/video and optional navigation controls are viewable on the home screen. Combining the most accessed ancillary controls on a single screen helps to reduce driver distraction and improves overall functionality and ease-of-use. Additionally, the available larger Supervision Cluster/TFT LCD color screen found in the instrument binnacle now displays turn-by-turn directions from the navigation system, helping to keep the driver’s eyes looking forward. Another first is the integration of Pandora®2 internet radio.
The 2017 Kia Soul is built on a stiffer chassis than before, and the location of the steering box results in an on-center feel. Shock absorbers on the torsion bar rear suspension are now turned vertically and positioned at an angle, allowing for better suspension travel, and enhanced ride comfort.
Powering the new Soul are now three transversely mounted front engine variants: the Base model receives a Gamma 1.6-liter, DOHC, 16-valve gasoline direct injection, inline four-cylinder that delivers130 horsepower along with 118 pound feet of torque; while the NU engine powering the Plus and Exclaim models is a 2.0-liter four-banger with horsepower rated at 164 and torque rated at 151 pound feet. The third engine choice is the Turbo, a 1.6-liter-T , DOHC, 16-valve Turbocharged inline four-cylinder with Gas Direct Injection that puts out a healthy 201 horsepower at 6,000 rpm along with 195 pound feet of torque in a range from 1,500 to 4,500 rpm.
All engines have been tuned to provide optimum low-end torque, and power reaches the front wheels with the base 1.6-liter engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission as standard, or to an optional six-speed automatic. The Plus and Exclaim models are available exclusively with the six-speed automatic transmission with sportmatic and active Eco, except in the case of the Turbo model that changes gears through a 7-speed
dual clutch automatic.
My test 2017 Kia Soul was in Exclaim trim, powered by the 1.6-liter-T , DOHC, 16-valve Turbocharged inline four-cylinder with Gas Direct Injection, coupled to the 7-speed DCT auto tranny . The exterior was sprayed Inferno Red metallic and came with a Black and Gray houndstooth cloth interior and piano black trim accents and orange double stitching. The base sticker read $22,650. while the final sticker climbed to $27,620. After adding for the Panoramic Sunroof, Technology Package, floor mats and Inland Freight and Handling charge.
SUMMARY: The 2017 Kia Soul Turbo in Exclaim trim is a blast to drive while still providing practical transportation in a package that displays a whimsical, yet stylish flair. Acceleration is responsive with some noticeable turbo lag under load, but when the spirit kicks in, smiles are prone to erupt.
The electric power steering is speed variable, and delivers good on-center feel over twisty backroads. The ride quality is comfortably compliant, but the boxy form offers a substantial target for 45-50 mph cross winds when crossing a bridge like San Francisco’s Golden Gate span. The seven speed DCT automatic shifts nicely, and is a worthwhile replacement for the manual gearbox.
There are plenty of thoughtful storage nooks and crannies, along with cool, quirky features such as the audio speakers that flash mood lighting to match the bass notes. Rear seat passengers will find sufficient space behind even tall front seat occupants. The infotainment system is now updated with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration as standard fare on all cars with the 7.0-inch touchscreen. A larger 8.0-inch unit comes as part of an optional package that also includes two additional USB ports and navigation.
Bottom line, the Kia Soul is proof positive that it’s cool to be square. Add the squarely good looks to the 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty and 5-year/60,000 mile 24-hour roadside assistance program, and the Soul on any level provides a hip, value-packed compact ride – enough to satisfy even the most discriminating “Hamstars”.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2017 Kia Soul Turbo !
Base Price: $22,650.
Price as Tested: $27,620.
Engine Type and Size: 1.6-liter-T , DOHC, 16-valve Turbocharged inline four-cylinder with Gas Direct Injection.
Horsepower (bhp): 201 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 195 @ 1,500-4,500 rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed DCT automatic with Sportmatic and
Drive Train: Transversely mounted front engine / Front-wheel drive
Suspension: Front – MacPherson strut type with gas shocks and coll springs.
Rear – Coupled Torsion Beam axle with gas shocks and coil springs.
Brakes: Power-assisted four wheel discs (vented front) with ABS, BA, TCS, ESC, VSM, HAC nand TPMS.
Tires: Nexen Classe Premiere CP671 235/45 R18 94V mounted on 5-“V”-spoke alloy wheels – machine faced with painted inners. Tire Mobility Kit.
Wheelbase: 101.2 inches
Length Overall: 163.0 inches
Width: 70.9 inches
Height: 63.5 inches
Curb Weight: 3,232 lbs.
Turning Diameter: 34.8 ft.
Fuel Capacity: 14.2 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 26 mpg city / 31 mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: Not listed.
0 – 60 mph: Not tested.
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.