THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: The turbocharged engine adds some sizzle to the steak.
- What’s Worst: Many Kia fans are still waiting for an all-wheel drive version.
- What’s Interesting: Other boxy designs on the market have come and gone, but the Kia Soul continues to sell well.
It’s hard to define what the Kia Soul really is.
The manufacturer calls it an urban passenger vehicle.
But whatever your take on it, this small, funky hatchback has been a success story for Kia.
While boxy crossovers like the Nissan Cube and Scion xB have come and gone, the Soul continues to flourish even in a shrinking small car market in Canada with sales of more than 11,600 units in calendar year 2017.
These numbers rank it as one of the top-selling subcompacts on the market.
Kia dares to be different with the Soul, which comes in many different flavours, but none better than the 2018 SX Turbo Tech model that we tested.
Dressed in Wild Orange paint, our test car was definitely not one that would blend in with the crowd.
As Kia says in its advertising, the Soul is made for standing out, “with versatility and style that’s as unique as you are.”
The turbo engine was introduced in 2017 for drivers who wanted more power and performance from their Soul and it delivers.
Helping to promote the turbo variant of the Soul was a cheeky TV commercial, which you may have seen, welcoming the ‘Turbo Hamster’ into the world.
The Soul Turbo is back again for the 2018 model year with improved looks, luxury and technology and a starting price of $25,995— $6,000 above the entry level LX model.
As tested, our SX Turbo Tech Soul came in at $29,995 plus freight and a $200 upcharge for the snazzy orange paint colour.
With the SX model, you get a peppy 201 hp 1.6-litre twin-scroll turbo four engine, making 195 lb/ft of torque. The engine is mated with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission ad unlike many turbos; this one runs on regular unleaded gasoline.
The SX Turbo trim also stands apart from the other Soul models with larger wheels (18-inch sport alloys vs. 17-inch alloys on the EX and 16-inch steel wheels on the LX). Other differences include red-accented sport bumpers and orange-stitched interior accents in addition to the Turbo badge on the rear hatch.
Among the tech goodies on our SX Turbo Tech test vehicle was an eight-inch integrated navigation system and a Harman/Kardon premium audio system.
Comfort features added to the trim level include power front seats, heated front/rear seats, LED cabin lighting and cargo cover with luggage net.
Blind spot detection and cross-traffic alert are added on the safety side, while panoramic sunroof, bi-function xenon HID headlights, LED daytime running lights, LED fog lights and power folding side mirrors are also part of the package.
This is all in addition to what’s standard in lower trim levels. For example, the base LX gets features one wouldn’t expect on a $19,995 car like power heated side mirrors, wiper de-icer, keyless remote, and even hill assist control.
Kia’s slogan is “the power to surprise” and all across the model lineup, which includes EX ($21,595), EX+ ($23,395), EX Premium ($25,995), EX ($28,395), SX Turbo ($25,595) and SX Turbo Tech ($29,995), buyers will be surprised by what’s included at each price level.
While exterior styling sets the Soul apart from much of the competition, interior size and versatility also make this small South Korean crossover attractive to a segment of the buying public.
Front- and rear-seat head and legroom is generous and cargo capacity is also surprisingly large for a vehicle of this size.
Four adults can ride in comfort in the Soul, which features 532 litres of cargo room behind the second row and 1,402 litres with the second 60/40 split seats folded flat to the floor.
The rear hatch is also large, making it easy to load and unload stuff from the cargo hold. One other funky feature on our Soul was the mood lighting trim surrounding the front-door speakers. The trim rings are sound reactive and change colour with the beat of the music.
The cabin feels bright and airy, thanks in part to the panoramic sunroof, part of the SX package.
On the road, the Soul SX Turbo is certainly a step up from the standard package when it comes to performance.
While $30K is a big chunk of change for a small car like this, the Soul SX Turbo Tech would be my model of choice.
And while it’s not a hot hatch by any means, the turbo engine adds a touch of sportiness and performance that is not present in the base models of the Soul.
All in all, the Soul SX Turbo is a fun car with a peppier personality when you add the turbo engine.
2018 Kia Soul SX Turbo Tech
BODY STYLE: Sub-compact hatchback.
DRIVE METHOD: Front-engine, front-wheel-drive.
ENGINE: Twin-scroll turbo 1.6L GDI four-cylinder engine (201 hp, 195 lb/ft of torque) with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
FUEL ECONOMY: 9.1/7.7 L/100 km city/highway.
TOW RATING: Not recommended.
PRICE: $29,995 plus $1,740 destination and delivery.
WEB SITE: Kia.ca
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