2018 Kia Soul Driving Impressions

The 1.6-liter engine is slow, with a minimal 130 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque. But if you don’t commute on the freeway, it keeps up. For an entry-level new car, considering the cargo capacity and cool factor, the base model with the six-speed manual is a good car for the money.

The 2.0-liter only comes with the six-speed automatic transmission whose downshifts are responsive and quick, although at freeway speeds, it shifts between fifth and sixth gears too much. It can be locked in manual so it only upshifts at redline, but that probably won’t keep it from downshifting from sixth to fifth.

The turbo engine, built by Hyundai, makes 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque, enough so there’s torque steer if you stand on it. With this engine, the Soul is a quick car on a winding backroad.

Not so quick around town, though. Driving slowly, it feels lethargic and unwilling, with a sluggish throttle response and non-linear acceleration; the transition from gliding to accelerating is slow, and it responds to more throttle with too much throttle.

The suspension is right, because the Soul doesn’t feel like a tall box in the corners, and the ride isn’t too busy on its short wheelbase. Twin-path dampers deliver good control, confidence in corners, and isolation from small bumps.

The Soul is no Volkswagen Golf or Mini Cooper, but it’s handling is responsive on a quick winding road, while also accelerating and braking. A Sport mode tightens the steering, making the Soul sporty and fun.

The transmission can be so slow to transition between Drive and Reverse. It gets old fast, especially when you’re in a hurry.

Four-wheel disc brakes are standard, with brake assist and hill-start assist, even on the base model. They work well, easy to modulate for smooth, controlled braking.

Request More Info

/* ddcbeckylong - DNAM00190221 */