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.
trim levels & features
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.
noise & vibration
ease of use
getting in/getting out
audio & navigation
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.