2018 Kia Soul Review

Pros & Cons

  • Long list of standard and optional features
  • Attractive cabin with user-friendly controls
  • More passenger space than many small SUVs
  • Excellent crash test scores
  • Unimpressive fuel economy
  • All-wheel drive isn't available
  • Ride quality can be overly harsh with bigger wheels
List Price Range
$8,475 - $19,900

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Which Soul does Edmunds recommend?

We like the midgrade Soul Plus. It's a bargain yet comes nicely equipped with just about all the features you'll likely need or enjoy, including an automatic transmission and the 7-inch Uvo infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. Its 2.0-liter engine is noticeably more powerful than the base Soul's 1.6-liter engine. Another nice aspect of the Plus is the array of options available. While you could buy a stock Plus for the budget play, just about everything in Kia's upgrade arsenal is available should you want it, including heated and ventilated power-adjustable front seats, a Harman Kardon sound system and the latest advanced driver safety aids.

Edmunds' Expert Review

Overall rating

When it debuted for the 2010 model year, the Kia Soul was difficult to classify. Was it a hatchback, a wagon or something else entirely? In recent years there has been a growing number of so-called subcompact crossover SUVs that provide the elevated seating height and enhanced cargo capacity of larger models but with a lower price tag. Really, they're an awful lot like the Soul in concept. Maybe we can add "trendsetter" to the Soul's list of attributes.

Yet, the 2018 Kia Soul is more appealing than its newfound competitors in a few ways. It has a roomier interior, with greater cargo and backseat space than the often-cramped competition that deserves the name "subcompact." Its crash scores are exemplary. It's also available with more power than its rivals — and not just the 201-horsepower turbocharged engine found in the range-topping Exclaim (!) trim level. The midgrade engine has a better-than-most 161 horsepower, too. And then there's the Soul's list of comfort, convenience and infotainment items at a price that undercuts those little SUVs considerably. You can get a lot more for your money by opting for the Soul.

Unfortunately, one thing you can't get is all-wheel drive, which is something those subcompact SUVs typically offer. Its fuel economy, regardless of engine, also disappoints. That should be of particular concern if you're looking at the Soul as more of a compact car alternative. On the whole, however, the Soul is an attractive little (insert vehicle type of your choice here) that should be a fashionable yet value-rich addition to your garage.

2018 Kia Soul models

The 2018 Kia Soul is available in three trim levels: base, Plus (+) and Exclaim (!). Each comes with a different engine. An automatic transmission is standard on the Plus and Exclaim and optional on the base Soul, which comes with a six-speed manual.

The base trim comes standard with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine (130 horsepower, 118 pound-feet of torque), 16-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, air conditioning, a height-adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split folding rear seats, Bluetooth, and a six-speaker sound system with a USB port and satellite radio. The Convenience package (automatic transmission only) adds automatic headlights, automatic climate control, a rearview camera, and the Uvo tech interface that includes a 7-inch touchscreen and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration.

The Soul Plus includes the Convenience package content and adds a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (161 hp, 150 lb-ft), a six-speed automatic transmission, 17-inch wheels, foglights, heated mirrors, keyless entry, selectable drive modes, upgrade cloth upholstery, a rear center armrest and a cargo cover.

The Soul Exclaim adds a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (201 hp, 195 lb-ft), a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission, 18-inch wheels, upgraded exterior trim (gloss black and red accents), upgraded gauges and interior trim, a mix of cloth and leather seat upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and keyless ignition and entry.

The Plus is available with a number of optional packages. The Audio package includes an 8-inch touchscreen, navigation, the Exclaim trim's upgraded interior materials, keyless ignition and entry, two USB ports, LED speaker lights and a Harman Kardon premium sound system. The Designer's package adds 18-inch wheels, the leather-wrapped steering wheel and a two-tone roof treatment.

You can also get the Plus with a Primo package that adds a panoramic sunroof, power-folding mirrors, the Exclaim trim's upgraded gauges, heated and ventilated eight-way power-adjustable front seats (with driver lumbar adjustment), heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, leather upholstery, and a suite of driver assistance systems that includes adaptive cruise control, blind-spot and lane departure warning, and a forward collision warning system with automatic emergency braking. To all of that, the Primo Lit package tacks on xenon headlights and LED running lights.

The Soul Exclaim is available with a Technology package that effectively includes everything it doesn't already have from the Plus' Primo Lit package. The exceptions are the panoramic sunroof, which can be added separately, and leather upholstery, which isn't available at all.

Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions, although trim levels share many aspects. The ratings in this review are based on our evaluation of a 2017 Kia Soul Exclaim (!) (turbo 1.6L inline-4 | 7-speed dual-clutch automatic | FWD).

Driving

Most drivers won't need the added power from the Kia Soul Exclaim's turbo engine, but there's no doubt any driver will appreciate it. We were surprised by how entertaining and capable this boxy little car is on a twisting road, which translates to a more confident ride for less than sporty drivers.

Acceleration

The Plus trim's standard engine has more guts than most competitors' powerplants, and the Exclaim's turbo engine really can't be matched. Right off the line, there's a little hesitation, but power builds steadily to highway speeds. Sport mode sharpens response.

Braking

The brake pedal is appropriately firm and easy to modulate. With more aggressive braking, the car remains poised and controllable. The brakes remain strong even after repeated use.

Steering

The steering effort feels right at all speeds. It lightens up at parking lot speeds and gets heavier as speeds increase. There's a good on-center feel to keep you tracking straight on the highway for effortless road trips.

Handling

The Kia Soul is surprisingly agile and, dare we say, even fun on a winding road. It takes a little getting used to, but you can drive it much harder than you'd expect.

Drivability

The turbocharged Exclaim has a dual-clutch automatic transmission that can be annoyingly hesitant in traffic. Otherwise, and with other trims, the Soul is very easy to drive with confidence whether you're commuting, maneuvering in a tight spot or blasting along some fun roads.

Comfort

The Soul rides a little stiffer than other SUVs, but it's far from being a deal-breaker. Even on long drives you're unlikely to feel fatigued.

Seat comfort

Despite having only basic adjustments, the front seats are comfortable after several hours on the road. The rear seats are a little firm and flat by comparison.

Ride comfort

The Soul's suspension is the same regardless of trim level. The ride quality is stiffer than that of other compact SUVs, but even on really rough roads, it's never objectionable. Wheel size does make a difference, so test-drive different trims.

Noise & vibration

Wind and road noise is always present, but it's not so loud that it becomes intrusive. Under more aggressive acceleration, the engine can get a little loud, but it sounds pretty good for a four-cylinder.

Climate control

The single-zone automatic climate control is easy to use, and once set, rarely needs to be adjusted.

Interior

There's a lot of plastic throughout the interior, but the panels are nicely grained and feel substantial. Any spots that you regularly touch or rest your elbows on are padded. Really, it's better than most.

Ease of use

Primary controls, as well as buttons and knobs for secondary systems, are well labeled and easy to operate.

Getting in/getting out

The tall doors and slightly taller ride height make getting in and out of the Kia Soul a breeze, even in tight spots.

Driving position

You sit taller in the Soul than in a sedan, but not quite as high as in a typical compact SUV. It's an excellent compromise that gives you a great view of the road.

Roominess

Generally the Soul has more room than subcompact SUV competitors. Its cabin feels big and spacious, even if you ignore its relatively small footprint. The rear seats are especially spacious, with plenty of head- and legroom for taller passengers. The panoramic sunroof enhances the sense of space.

Visibility

The rear roof pillars are pretty thick, but overall outward visibility is excellent. There's no guesswork when backing into a spot, and you won't have to rely too much on the rearview camera.

Quality

Materials used and construction are slightly better than expected for a car at this price. Even better materials and nicer seat upholstery can be found in the top Exclaim trim and with the Plus Primo package.

Utility

The Soul's boxy shape allows it to make the most of all available space. Cargo capacity is better than in most subcompact SUV competitors, though space aft of the back seat is still only so-so. Interior storage could also be better.

Small-item storage

Bins, pockets and cupholders are adequate but not particularly generous or clever. Other vehicles offer more and larger storage areas, as well as thoughtful solutions for phones and personal items.

Cargo space

There's up to 19 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats if items are piled to the top. Capacity increases to 61 cubic feet with the seats folded (but they don't fold flat). It's better than most hatchbacks and subcompact SUVs, and it even beats some compact SUVs.

Technology

Kia exceeds expectations when it comes to technology. A lot of features are built into the touchscreen infotainment system (including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), which is easy to reach and operate. Response time is immediate, and the optional audio system delivers a solid punch.

Audio & navigation

The optional Harman Kardon audio system sounds great and is easy to operate. Similarly, the navigation benefits from sharp screen resolution and easy-to-read graphics. The mix of physical and onscreen buttons makes switching between systems quick and simple.

Smartphone integration

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included with the Uvo3 touchscreen interface, which is optional on the base trim and standard on all others. One USB port is standard, and two are optional.

Driver aids

Lane departure and blind-spot warning systems are packaged together with adaptive cruise control and a forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking system.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2018 Kia Soul.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

2018 Kia Soul Plus is an A Plus Plus
Jerry Ingalls,03/06/2019
+ 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl 6A)
The many positive reviews of this vehicle are absolutely true. When one purchases and owns a car you want it to satisfy many of your specific needs. I am 73 years old, kind of vehicle and tech savvy, and needed something versatile, not too large, fun to drive, and safe. This thing has blown my mind it is so awesomely cool. My wife loves it too. With regard to safety: wrap around side airbags, excellent visibility, amazing brakes, back-up camera, very positive firm suspension, awesome light steering feel. It is just a hoot to drive with eco/normal/sport mode. Regulates shifts.......sometimes 6 spd automatic seems busy......but now understand it and is perfect......car really always feels relaxed not stressed. Can use manual sport shifting that works great.......but not needed, perhaps some downhills? The Plus has 17" wheels so all kinds of grip and road feel....yet so quiet in the cabin. The interior is surprisingly roomy, very comfortable front seats, and yes the back seat with cup holder down and super leg room gives passengers a very comfortable nice ride. Storage for a water bottle in all four doors. The back 60/40 seat folds nearly flat for nice storage room. Also, a subtle fairly large storage tray is located under the back area.......a great touch that helps items be out of view. Upper back concealment tray folds in half and is also easily removable when not needed. The infotainment eUVO 7" diagonal touchscreen and voice control is the best. You must use, learn and practice with it while NOT DRIVING........., but once learned it is ridiculously cool. Bluetooth hands free phone, and voice radio tuning, XM etc. With phone using USB Apple Car Play is awesome........navigation on screen wicked, voice siri texting, using the eUVO app. diagnostics, Parking Minder, Roadside Assist, or My Car Zone info is nice. Auto Climate control Wow. Nice high visibility in parking lots and awesome turning radius. Short wheel base, ride on certain surfaces a little choppy........but so perfect in most all conditions........freeway wonderful. Kia has a small package winner, with all the standard features one could ever imagine. I have owned for a month now and highly recommend as a vehicle to drive and give consideration to. You are likely in for a wonderful surprise.
Great Bang For The Buck
Dana,02/06/2018
4dr Wagon (1.6L 4cyl 6M)
This car is a great value for the money. When Kia introduced this car, they seemed to be marketing it toward the younger crowd, but most of them I see on the road are driven by more mature folks, like myself. The reasons are simple: ease of entry, upright driving position, good headroom, comfortable seats, lots of standard features (even in the base model,) decent acceleration, decent gas mileage, decent cargo area, the ability to carry a large cargo load with the rear seats folded, the ability to easily install a roof rack, and the handy, large tailgate. Sure, it's an a no-nonsense econobox, and it certainly isn't flashy, but if it's an economical, comfortable, practical car, (that's fun to drive,) with a good warranty, that you're looking for, this may be your ticket. After a 2+ years of driving, my only complaint with this car has been in the quality of the seat material. The fabric began showing some wear on the side of the driver's seat, where I enter. The dealer has since remedied the problem, and installed new covers on the seat. Aside from this, the vehicle has continued to be quite superior, and exactly meets my needs.
Great Value
deanariddle,12/30/2017
+ 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl 6A)
The car is inexpensive but doesn't look inexpensive -- especially on the inside! I have the Kia Soul Plus which has the larger nav system, Hardon Kardon stereo, and upgraded trim. I'm very pleased, thus far. It, overall, handles well. The only real complaint I have is that you have blind spots towards the rear of the car. You have to be really careful when changing lanes. I was initially looking at Jeep Renegades because of its unique body styling -- but -- when I saw the Kia (which also has a unique body style) -- I loved it and forgot all about the Jeep.
Soul Turbo Value and Fun!
Randy,12/14/2018
! 4dr Wagon (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 7AM)
My wife wanted the Soul and I was like "OK I won't be the one driving it". But I went with her to test drive and after driving a couple of Plus models we liked the looks of a red Turbo model. She drove it around and then had me get behind the seat and WOW, the little hamster wagon had some punch. The car feels and rides so much bigger than it is, and I enjoy driving it myself to the point that we have used it for a couple of long road trips. I have become a fan, but all is not perfect. The breaks seem weak for a more sporty, performance model. The interior quality looks better than the cars price range but seriously the piano black trim is a dust magnet and I don't understand the car mfg's being so enamored with the stuff. We have only put about 15K miles on it so far and there has been no mechanical issues or problems at all, and with the amazing warranty Kia has there is not much to worry about. All in all the Kia is a great value.

Features & Specs

MPG
25 city / 30 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
130 hp @ 6300 rpm
MPG
25 city / 30 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
161 hp @ 6200 rpm
MPG
26 city / 31 hwy
Seats 5
7-speed automated manual
Gas
201 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
24 city / 30 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed manual
Gas
130 hp @ 6300 rpm
See all Used 2018 Kia Soul features & specs

Safety

Our experts like the Soul models:

Forward Collision Warning System
Warns you of stopped or rapidly slowing vehicles ahead and automatically applies the brakes if you don't respond.
Lane Departure Warning System
Warns you when you've started to drift from your lane.
Blind-Spot Detection System
Alerts you to vehicles in your blind spot through lights located in the side mirrors.

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover14.7%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Good
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Good
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2018 Kia Soul

Used 2018 Kia Soul Overview

The Used 2018 Kia Soul is offered in the following submodels: Soul Wagon. Available styles include 4dr Wagon (1.6L 4cyl 6A), + 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl 6A), ! 4dr Wagon (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 7AM), and 4dr Wagon (1.6L 4cyl 6M).

What's a good price on a Used 2018 Kia Soul?

Price comparisons for Used 2018 Kia Soul trim styles:

  • The Used 2018 Kia Soul + is priced between $8,891 and$15,999 with odometer readings between 20451 and78989 miles.
  • The Used 2018 Kia Soul Base is priced between $8,475 and$15,998 with odometer readings between 5252 and45079 miles.
  • The Used 2018 Kia Soul ! is priced between $15,995 and$19,900 with odometer readings between 14945 and62994 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2018 Kia Souls are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2018 Kia Soul for sale near. There are currently 80 used and CPO 2018 Souls listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $8,475 and mileage as low as 5252 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2018 Kia Soul.

Can't find a used 2018 Kia Souls you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Kia Soul for sale - 9 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $18,862.

Find a used Kia for sale - 9 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $19,264.

Find a used certified pre-owned Kia Soul for sale - 4 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $7,931.

Find a used certified pre-owned Kia for sale - 11 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $24,981.

Should I lease or buy a 2018 Kia Soul?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Kia lease specials
Check out Kia Soul lease specials