New 2019 Kia Soul Wagon New 2019
Kia Soul Wagon

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KBB Editor's Overview

By KBB.com Editorial Staff

As more compact cars morph into sleek high-riding hatchbacks, we applaud the 2019 Kia Soul for retaining its boxy, upright design. With its high-mounted rear taillights and groovy interior, the Soul has always been cool, yet the arrival of newer competitors like the Toyota CH-R means the Soul can’t afford to rest on its laurels. Its roomy and versatile interior continues to shine bright, offering appealing features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. While the Soul lacks the all-wheel-drive traction of cars like the Mini Cooper Countryman and Fiat 500X, it is still a competent daily driver offering good fuel economy, an optional 201-horsepower turbocharged engine and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. There’s even an electric version for the ultra-green set.

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You'll Like This Car If...

The 2019 Kia Soul is a feature-filled small car as appealing to first-time buyers as it is empty-nesters. Offering good fuel economy, the latest in high-tech audio and driver assists plus an amazingly long standard warranty, the Soul represents an amazing value.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Unlike many competitors, the new Soul’s driver-assist features are optional and only offered on one trim, the mid-level Plus. Those looking for an athletic daily driver might be happier in a Mazda CX-3 or Toyota CH-R, while those seeking maximum fuel economy should look to the Honda Fit.

What's New for 2019

For 2019, the Kia Soul carries over with only minor content changes. A 5-inch touch-screen radio with rearview monitor and voice activation is now standard on the base model, as are auto on/off headlights. Inferno Red paint is now an option on the base trim.

Driving It

Driving Impressions

The Soul’s driving experience is on par with similar cars like the Nissan Kicks, Chevy Trax and Hyundai Kona, but it’s the turbocharged engine in the 2019 Kia Soul Exclaim that really wakes this car up. The Exclaim’s on-road performance is further enhanced by firmer shock and spring settings along with a big 18-inch wheel/tire package. While we give Kia credit for improving the Soul’s steering feedback, it’s still not up to the standard set by the Mazda CX-3. Cornering capabilities are better than one would expect from such a tall vehicle, but some of the fun is sapped from the experience by the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. We found it slow to shift, and random surges of power sometimes made us question if the transmission was fully engaged, even when using the Sport setting. And why are there no steering-wheel paddle shifters? Oh well, maybe next year. The battery-powered Kia Soul EV has the quiet operation desirable of electric vehicles (EVs), but not the quickness. It takes over 11 seconds for the Soul EV to reach 60 mph. The Chevy Bolt is significantly quicker and offers longer ranges.

Favorite Features

TURBO POWER
Small-car owners often complain about a lack of power for passing and merging. Thanks to its available turbocharged engine, the 2019 Soul Exclaim (!) suffers from no such affliction. The added power doesn’t come at the expense of fuel economy, although it also doesn’t come cheap.

APPLE CARPLAY AND ANDROID AUTO
No matter how long you keep your Kia Soul, its infotainment system will always be up to date thanks to the inclusion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Allowing the audio system to sync with the owner’s smartphone permits access to the latest apps, maps and communication technology.

Vehicle Details

Interior

Kia claims the Soul can seat five people, but it’s really four comfortably, with one wedged in for short trips. The cabin is handsome at the base level and improves measurably as the trim levels advance. Climb into the top Exclaim trim and you’ll find cloth and leather seats with contrasting orange stitching, a flat-bottom leather-wrapped steering wheel and available heated front and rear seats. Headroom is ample thanks to the Soul’s tall roof, and cargo space is adequate with the rear seat up but plentiful when folded down. Clever features like pulsating speaker lights further separate the Soul from its less imaginative rivals.

Exterior

Despite numerous styling upgrades over the years, the 2019 Kia Soul still shares a common shape with the first-generation car. Front and rear bumpers have changed, with the Soul Plus getting body-color inserts, and the Soul Exclaim getting black. The Exclaim also distinguishes itself from its non-turbo mates with 18-inch alloy wheels, dual exhaust tips, HID headlights and LED fog lights -- updating an exterior already known for a quirky blend of function and fashion. The upright styling offers good cargo and passenger space, and the distinctive vertical taillights are practically the car's signature. The Soul EV has a front charge port tucked neatly away behind a solid grille in front.

Notable Standard Equipment

For 2019 the Kia Soul comes in three models: Base, Plus (+) and Exclaim (!). Base models include 16-inch alloy wheels, a drive-mode function, and an updated audio system with rearview camera. They combine with air conditioning, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, 6-way-manual-adjust driver's seat, power windows and door locks and Bluetooth wireless technology. The standard engine is a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder connected to a 6-speed manual transmission, making the base model the only Soul available with a stick. Higher-level models come standard with more, like bigger engines, better interior materials, and larger wheels, including 18-inch alloys on the Exclaim. The Soul EV comes in two trims: the EV and the better-equipped EV+. Both come with heated front seats and steering wheel, environmentally friendly interior materials, a DC Fast Charge port, and the ability to start the climate system while the vehicle is still charging.

Notable Optional Equipment

Options vary by model level, with base models with an automatic transmission offering a Convenience Package that adds the UVO3 infotainment system with a rearview camera and automatic headlights. Soul Plus offers the Primo Lit package that combines a panoramic sunroof, leather seats with power adjustments and heating and cooling in front, blind-spot detection, adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and a bunch of other features. Then there's the Exclaim, which, along with the turbo engine, offers a panoramic sunroof and a Technology package that adds harman/kardon audio and most of what's in the Primo Lit package minus the driver assists. The top-line Soul EV+ comes with leather seating and heated rear seats, and offers an optional panoramic sunroof.

Under the Hood

Opt for the least expensive Soul and you’ll also get the least powerful engine. With 130 horsepower, the 1.6-liter 4-cylinder in the base trim does offer the choice of manual or automatic transmission, but performance is fairly sluggish regardless. Moving to the Soul Plus brings a larger 2.0-liter engine good for 161 horsepower and a standard 6-speed automatic transmission. At the top of the Soul food chain is the Exclaim featuring a 201-horsepower turbocharged 1.6-liter unit and a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. Ironically, the Soul’s most powerful engine gets the same fuel economy as its least powerful offering, although all three of the Soul’s engines are pretty good about minimal gasoline consumption. The Soul EV runs solely on electric power, making 109 horsepower with an estimated range just over 110 miles. Charging times via a conventional 120-volt outlet takes 33 hours, but using a 240-volt outlet reduces that time to just over five hours. Hook up to a dedicated DC fast-charging port and the time drops to just 30 minutes.

1.6-liter inline-4
130 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
118 lb-ft of torque @ 4,850 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/30 mpg (manual), 26/31 mpg (automatic)

2.0-liter inline-4
161 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
150 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/30 mpg

1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4
201 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
195 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/31 mpg

A/C Synchronous Permanent Magnet motor (Soul EV)
109 horsepower
210 lb-ft of torque
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 124/93 MPGe
EPA range on a full charge: 111 miles

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Pricing Notes

The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) on the 2019 Kia Soul Base with a manual transmission starts right at $17,430 including the $940 destination charge; add another $1,700 if you want an automatic. We suggest at least the Soul Plus, starting at $21,430 and which offers more power and options as well. If you want turbo power, you'll need $23,930 for the Soul Exclaim. Options add up of course, but even a fully loaded Soul Exclaim is less than $28,000, which is a pretty solid price for a very nicely equipped, uniquely styled and fun-to-drive hatchback. If you decide to go electric, the Soul EV starts at nearly $35,000 with the Soul EV+ starting close to $37,000. It compares nicely with compact SUVs like the Honda HR-V and Fiat 500X, and against compact hatchbacks like the Honda Civic and Chevy Cruze hatchback. Check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area paid for their 2019 Kia Soul, and note that resale value is generally very good.

OK, so what's next?
I'm interested in this car. What's for sale near me?
I'm interested in this car, and I'd like to trade in my current car while I'm at it.
Then again, maybe I should be thinking about a used Kia Soul.

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