By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 8.8
The 2016 Kia Soul 5-door wagon is truly one of a kind. A modern and expressive exterior is matched by a well-appointed interior offering features not found on some midsize and near-luxury models. The boxy design maximizes interior room, while the fuel-efficient engine makes the Soul an easy choice for the budget-conscious. The Soul offers more room and standard features than the Fiat 500L or Mini Cooper Countryman, although it lacks an all-wheel-drive option. There’s also an all-electric version for the environmentally minded. Beyond its hip good looks and catchy ad campaign (we know you’ve seen the dancing hamsters by now), the Soul offers solid affordable transportation with an amazing 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, all for a price starting under $17,000.
Looking for a compact car under $17,000 but think all you’ll find are rental-car look-alikes? Surprise yourself with the 2016 Kia Soul. It’s fuel-efficient, safe, reliable and more fun than hamsters in a Habitrail. Opt for the electric Soul EV and you’ll go up to 93 miles on a single charge.
KBB Expert Ratings
Kia’s Soul wagon for 2016 gets new options, including 2-tone paint and lane-departure and forward-collision warning systems. The base model receives standard alloy wheels, the Plus trim gains fog lights and a rearview camera, and the Exclaim gains leather seats. A lower-cost Soul EV-e trim is offered, but only in California.
Thanks to its stiff chassis and firm suspension, Kia’s 2016 Soul 5-passenger hatchback feels solid and predictable. At highway speeds the cabin remains fairly quiet, although there is...
... still some noticeable tire noise on rough surfaces. Over bumps and dips, the Soul feels a bit stiff, but the suspension isn’t as jarring as in a Mini Cooper. We found the driver-selectable steering option more of a gimmick than a useful tool. The normal setting felt best, although none of the three settings returned the type of responsive steering feel found on a Mazda3 or Fiat 500L. As for acceleration, the Soul doesn’t have the muscle to placate enthusiast drivers, but with the larger 2.0-liter engine under the hood, we found passing and straight-line acceleration to be adequate. The Soul EV electric wasn’t much better, although it is impressively quiet and handles similarly to its gasoline counterpart.
Kia’s suite of infotainment apps is known as UVO and its eService package includes such must-haves as Bluetooth phone pairing, navigation, Geo-fencing, Speed Alert, Curfew Alert and Driving Score (those last features are especially helpful when keeping track of how the kids drive your car).
VENTILATED FRONT SEATS
You can’t even find these in most upscale sedans, yet the 2016 Kia Soul offers cooling front seats to help keep your backside dry when the outside temperature soars.
The 2016 Kia Soul features a 2-row, 5-passenger cabin whose looks and functions improve as you climb the three trim levels, from cloth seats in base models to available Nappa leather in top-line versions. The 2016 Soul does an admirable job of blending practicality and whimsy. This hatchback's boxy shape and folding rear seats make it surprisingly spacious, while features such as speaker lights that pulsate to the beat are nothing if not different. The optional panoramic sunroof is an unexpected treat in such an economy car. The electric Soul features bio-friendly materials and an efficient organic LED instrument screen.
The Kia Soul for 2016 retains the original's tall, rectangular profile, but stays fresh thanks to a reworked front end and tall taillights. The Soul’s tall profile offers function in addition to fashion. Along with abundant headroom and luggage space, the high roof allows for raised seating positions and good visibility for all inside. Top-line models further stand out with LED turn-signal indicators in the side mirrors, projector-beam headlights and LED taillights. The Soul electric car sets itself apart with a hidden charging port up front and 2-tone paint schemes that are now optional on the gasoline-powered Soul.
For 2016 the Kia Soul comes in three trims: Base, Plus (+) and Exclaim (!). The Base trim includes 17-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, 6-way manual-adjust driver's seat, power windows and door locks, Bluetooth wireless technology, and 6-speaker audio with USB input. Plus models add a larger engine and automatic transmission, cruise control, keyless entry and upgraded cloth trim. The Exclaim includes 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, power-folding outside mirrors, Kia's UVO eServices, leather seating, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat. EV models have an 8.0-inch touch screen with navigation and a suite of EV-centric controls.
Upgrades vary by trim level but include an 8.0-inch touch-screen display and navigation, rearview camera, heated front and rear seats, ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, LED interior lighting, push-button start, panoramic sunroof and automatic climate control. Premium tunes can be heard via an Infinity audio system with a prominent center speaker. Drivers looking to eke out maximum fuel efficiency have the option of the Idle Stop & Go system, which cuts engine power when the vehicle is stopped, such as at traffic signals. Lane-departure and forward-collision warning are now part of the Exclaim’s Premium Package.
Two 4-cylinder engines are available in the 2016 Kia Soul. Base models come with a 1.6-liter, while the two higher trims use a larger and more powerful 2.0-liter. All Kia Souls are front-wheel drive, and all except the base model come with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Base models use a 6-speed manual (the automatic is optional). The Soul EV uses no gasoline at all, but rather an electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery pack. Power is sent to the front wheels via a single-speed transmission. Range is estimated to be 93 miles per charge, which is expected to take from 24 hours on a 120-volt outlet to under five hours on a 240-volt outlet. A DC fast-charging unit can offer an 80-percent charge in about 30 minutes.
130 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
118 lb-ft of torque @ 4,850 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/30 mpg
164 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
151 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/31 mpg
AC synchronous electric motor
27kWh lithium-ion battery pack
210 lb-ft of torque
EPA-estimated range per full charge: 93 miles
EPA city/highway fuel economy equivalent: 120/92 mpge
The 2016 Kia Soul has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just over $16,500. Keep in mind that is for a base model with manual transmission. Opting for the automatic transmission on the base model is an extra $1,500. Top-line versions of the Soul begin at around $22,000 and can hit $28,000 fully loaded. The all-electric Kia Soul EV-e starts just under $33,000 before incentives (such as the $7,500 federal tax credit). Even with an automatic transmission, the Soul's entry cost undercuts the base price of the Fiat 500L, Nissan Juke and Jeep Renegade. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their 2016 Kia Souls. Resale value is expected to be very good for the Soul, better than the Jeep Renegade and on par with the Nissan Juke.