What Is It?
The 2017 Kia Soul Turbo sounds like it’s merely the fastest version of Kia’s popular compact hatchback. But this new variant, introduced to the United States at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show, takes the prize for fuel efficiency as well.
Let’s go straight to the numbers. It has a 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder engine that’s turbocharged to produce 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. For some kind of context, 200 hp in a small car has the potential to be really entertaining. That power gives it a 40-hp advantage over the Soul’s previously most powerful engine, a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter. But while the 2.0 is rated at 27 combined miles per gallon, this new unit achieves 28 mpg over the same cycle.
A 7-speed dual-clutch (think automated manual) transmission sends power to the front wheels. Sadly, there are no paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel, just a shift lever. This model also has its own suspension settings and Kia has increased the front brakes’ disc size to 12 inches.
The turbocharged version comes in the Soul’s highest trim level: Exclaim (!). It also includes 18-inch alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, push-button start, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, two USB ports and various cosmetic additions like chromed dual exhaust tips.
Safety features like blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alerts are on the options list.
The 2017 Kia Soul Turbo starts at $23,500.
When Can You Get It?
Add It to Your Shopping List Because…
The Soul’s big selling points are still its affordability and spacious cabin, with a maximum cargo volume of 61 cu ft. This zippier engine and swisher trim level make it more attractive, but also more expensive.
Other Cars to Consider
2017 Honda HR-V — Based on the versatile Fit, the classy HR-V comes with 56 cu ft. out back, plus the option of all four wheels being driven.
2017 Fiat 500X — Stylish and characterful, but not the most spacious.
2017 Jeep Renegade — Based on the same foundation as the 500X, but more rugged and with better ground clearance — just in case someone really did want to go off the pavement.
2017 Mazda CX-3 — Considered a star in the handling department. All-wheel drive is an option and cargo space is 44.5 cu ft.
Used Volkswagen GTI — Hot-hatch heaven; a GTI is hard to beat for its blend of swiftness, space and sophistication.