When introduced in 2010, the Kia Soul is difficult to classify. Is that a wagon, a hatchback or something else? In recent years there have been many subcompact crossover SUVs that provide elevated seating height and increased cargo capacity of larger models but with a cheaper price. They are a lot like Soul in concept. Maybe we can add an “initiator” to the Soul attribute list.
However, 2018 Kia Soul is more interesting than its new competitor in some ways. It has a more spacious interior, a larger rear seat and cargo space than the often-tight competitor who deserves called subcompact. It crash test scores are worth to be proud of. It’s also available with more engine options than its rivals, not just the turbocharged engines found in the top-trim Exclaim (!). The midgrade engine is also better. And there’s a list of comforts and infotainment items that undercuts its competitors. You can earn more for your money by choosing the 2018 Kia Soul.
Trim Levels and Feature
The 2018 Kia Soul is a five-passenger wagon available in three trim levels: base, Plus (+) and Exclaim (!).
Standard equipment for the base trims includes 16-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, cloth upholstery, air conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split folding rear seats, Bluetooth, a six-speaker sound system with satellite radio and a USB port. The optional Convenience package (automatic only) adds automatic headlights, a rearview camera, automatic climate control, a 7-inch Uvo touchscreen interface with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.
The 2018 Kia Soul Plus get the Convenience package along with keyless entry, 17-inch wheels, heated mirrors, foglights, upgraded cloth upholstery, selectable drive modes, a cargo cover and a rear center armrest.
The Soul Exclaim adds keyless ignition and entry, 18-inch wheels, upgraded exterior trim, upgraded gauges and interior trim, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a mix of cloth and leather seat upholstery.
There are some optional packages for the 2018 Kia Soul Plus. The Audio package adds keyless ignition and entry, the Exclaim upgraded interior materials, an 8-inch touchscreen, two USB ports, navigation, LED speaker lights and a Harman Kardon premium sound system. The Designer package adds 18-inch wheels, a two-tone roof treatment and the leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Also for the Soul Plus is a Primo package, which adds power-folding mirrors, a panoramic sunroof, a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated eight-way power-adjustable front seats with driver lumbar adjustment, leather upholstery, heated rear seats and the Exclaim upgraded gauges. Also included is a suite of driver aid systems such as a forward collision warning system with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot and lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control. The Primo Lit package all of those features plus LED running lights and xenon headlights.
The Soul Exclaim can be equipped with a Technology package, which includes everything it doesn’t already have from the Primo Lit package. The exceptions are the panoramic sunroof, which can be added separately, and leather upholstery, which isn’t available at all.
Every 2018 Kia Soul is a front-wheel-drive and offered with three different engines. The base Soul is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder with 130 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission with a hill-start assist function is standard, and a six-speed automatic available as an option. EPA estimated fuel economy at 27 mpg combined (25 city/30 highway) with either transmission.
The 2018 Kia Soul Plus comes standard with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that generates 161 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic is the only transmission offered. In performance testing, the 2018 Kia Soul Plus accelerates from zero to 60 mph 8.5 seconds, which is average for a small wagon or hatchback with an upgraded engine. Fuel economy estimated at 27 mpg combined (25 city/30 highway), which is much lower than other compact cars in this class.
The 2018 Kia Soul Exclaim gets a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine good for 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. It mated with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. In performance testing, the Soul Exclaim hit 60 mph in quick 6.5 seconds. EPA fuel economy rating at 28 mpg combined (26 city/31 highway).
With expressive style details and a modern look, the 2018 Kia Soul cabin offers a nice balance between function and form. Interior materials have a higher quality than you expect from a car in this price range.
Controls and gauges are placed logically and easy to use. It features the Uvo interface that comes with Android Auto and Apple Carplay to control your smartphone very easily. In addition to improving sound quality, the optional Infinity audio system includes an illuminated trim ring for speakers that reflect your music beats. It’s a bit of a ruse, but we have the feeling some Soul buyers will find it kind of fun.
One of the advantages of the 2018 Kia Soul box shape is a plenty of headroom and legroom, even in the backseat. Behind the rear seats, you will find 19 cubic feet of cargo space, which increases to 61 cubic feet with both of the 60/40-split rear seatbacks folded down. It’s bigger than a compact hatchback and equivalent to some SUVs.
Release Date and Price
Official price for the entry-level Soul starting at $16,995 (including $895 destination charges). The Soul Plus carries a price-tag of $21,195 and the Soul Exclaim costs $23,695.