Although relatively new to the American market since its introduction in 1994 Kia Motors has been in the transportation business for some time now producing Korea’s first domestically made bicycle in 1951. Skillfully devised, highly functional and affordable describe the company’s products. Well, the 2017 Kia Soul is all of that and some more as I discovered during a week’s evaluation in my hometown of Laurel, MD.
Made famous by those forward thinking Kia hamster commercials we were all introduced to the Soul by a brand campaign that paired it with hip-hop and pop music and an energetic vibe thus giving the Soul instantaneous “COOL.” The 2017 Kia Soul is packed with a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine which is spunky and fun to drive. I was able to zip around Maryland, DC and Virginia while running errands and shuttling children to engagements with ease and grace. The Wild Orange exterior hue was bright and exuded emotion, and coupled with the 18″ Alloy wheels our Kia Soul loaner was definitely my style.
Although Automotive Rhythms has tested prior Soul models the current Soul provided the pleasure of experiencing one for the first time while leaving me with an impressive drive experience. Its handling, braking and overall maneuverability were astounding for a boxy ride. As expected with a short wheelbase the Soul is afforded the ability of fitting in tight parking spaces which is essential to city driving and commuting. While others hunted endlessly for parking spots to accommodate their vehicles I was able to quickly get in and out without a qualm. This was refreshing since my daily driver is a full-sized Chevy Tahoe.
More importantly, the Soul’s rectangular silhouette makes cargo issues almost non-existent. The interior was surprisingly spacious and had no problem accommodating my 6’3″ frame with plenty of leg and headroom. Not only was the Korean vehicle comfortable and convenient, it was well-packaged in part to the optional panoramic sunroof, infotainment center (simple and intuitive) and the Technology Package which offered the pleasure of navigation with an 8″ display. SiriusXM was enjoyable as always since it was paired with a Harman Kardon premium audio system that comes with the Technology Package. Energy vibrates in tandem with speaker lights which respond to your musical vibes or can be set as mood lighting.
All these features are icing on the cake when you consider that the 2017 Soul is also equipped with Blind Spot Detection, heated front and rear seats, heated steering wheel, Traction Control, Electronic Stability Control and Vehicle Stability Management. The touchscreen display was reactive and far from sluggish as I moved seamlessly between functions at a whim. USB charging and connectivity ports are abundant for your personal tech devices. It’s amazing that a value car can tender some of the same features found on premium luxury vehicles.
The Kia Soul is a solid financial decision with a starting price of $22,650. The additional technology package adds $3,000 and the sunroof is another $1,000. Both are worthy options as they make an already cool car even cooler. When it’s all said and done our test vehicle priced out at $27,620. If you haven’t already checked out the Kia Soul you will be impressed. Trust me.