We had a chance to drive so many new cars around the Circuit of Americas track at the TAWA event last month, and the 2017 Kia Soul Turbo was certainly a treat. The performance advancements, new aggressive grill and clean styling really set the tone for why Kia has outlasted similar cars like the Scion and Nissan Cube. After requesting a longer test drive on my own turf, the Soul Turbo proved it was born for speed! The Soul Turbo is a Soul on steroids.

  • Interior
  • Exterior
  • Performance
  • Value
  • Personal Interest

 Exterior Features

The Kia Soul ! Turbo got some super fun sporty features added to the exterior that really stood out to me. It starts with the grill. The grill in the Turbo trim, that I spent time with, has gotten a bit of an aggressive face lift giving the Soul a sportier look from previous models. We absolutely loved the panoramic sunroof, even though it’s just not practical in the Texas summer heat. But we loved it so much that we kept it open and turned the AC to full blast most of the time so we could enjoy the sunshine coming through in the whole car. My test model was Inferno Red and this girl loves red. I noticed that the Soul Turbo has red lettering unlike the other trim models. The rear lift hatchback is very light and easy to manually operate. The Turbo model also gets 18” Alloy Wheels, up from the Plus model which gets 17″ Alloy Wheels, and the 16″ Alloy Wheels on the base model.

Needs improvement – I’m not a fan of the charming boxy shape, and I realize that’s a personal preference.

Positive – I love the new sporty more aggressive looking grill and the giant panoramic sunroof.

 Interior Features

The interior styling of the Kia Soul Turbo is clean with red stitching over black material to give it a real sporty feel.  The driver oriented dash isn’t cluttered with a lot of unnecessary gadgets to keep the driving experience simple and easy. I really like the leather wrapped D-shaped steering wheel, which by the way was heated.

The one thing I can appreciate about the quirky box shape is that it allows for getting in and out of both the front and rear seats easy because there’s no slope in the roof line to duck under since we are talking about a compact car or a CUV. As far as leg room, we didn’t have any issues at all. Again, it is a compact car, but getting in and out was never a struggle or frustrating because the seats are more flat rather than extremely rear dipped. Side note, our tested model had heated front and rear seats as well.

Our test model included a cargo cover, which I like. The Soul has 60/40 split folding rear seats that give this compact car some good cargo space:

  • Rear Seat Upright (cu. ft.), without Cargo Under Tray: 24.2
  • Rear Seat Upright (cu. ft.), with Cargo Under Tray: 18.8
  • Rear Seat Folded (cu. ft.), without Cargo Under Tray: 61.3
  • Rear Seat Folded (cu. ft.), with Cargo Under Tray: 49.5

Some other interior features I really liked about this car were:

  • Push Button Start with Smart Key (this was very responsive)
  • Harmon Kardon Premium Audio System
  • UVO eServices with 8″ Touch-Screen Display, Premium Navigation, HD Radio, Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay™
  • SiriusXM Satellite Radio (we used this the whole time we tested the car)
  • Rear Camera (this is everything)
  • BlueTooth Wireless Technology

Needs improvement – I’d like to see more soft surfaces.

Positive – The sound system (+6 speakers) is great and I am a huge fan of the Push Button Start feature.

Technology & Safety features

I’m a huge fan of safety feature technology. It brings us closer to autonomous and, in my opinion, safer driving. There are some features Kia has included that are among my favorites.

I want to start with Kia’s Tire Pressure Monitoring System only because it actually saved me while I had the car for testing. Long story short, while I was out running errands, the monitoring system lit up on the dash to let me know one of the tires was losing air. I safely pulled over to check the tires and see what was going on, only to find a big huge screw lodged in the side wall of the rear driver tire. It wasn’t flat yet so I decided to nix the rest of my errands and go straight home so I could deal with getting the tire replaced. Crisis averted. #truestory

I have decided I can not live without Blind Spot Detection technology! When a vehicle in the next lane enters your vehicle’s blind spot on either side, the available Blind Spot Detection is designed to illuminate the indicator in that side view mirror. If you continue to signal a lane change to that lane, the indicator will flash to get your attention.

And of course, the Kia Soul ! Turbo has a clear and user-friendly Navigation System included to keep you from making a wrong turn or getting lost in unfamiliar turf. It’s also outfitted with dual front advanced airbags, front seat mounted side airbags, and full-length side curtain airbags!

Needs improvement – I’d like to see a Lane Departure System added. You’d be surprised at how often you drift.

Positive – The Tire Pressure Monitoring System literally saved me.

Engine features

I won’t spend much time here because, quite frankly, this isn’t my favorite subject and this is a compact car we’re talking about here. I will note that the Turbo got a 40 horsepower addition, and it was evident in my test drive experience.

  • Horsepower – 201 hp @ 6,000 rpm
  • Transmission – 1.6L Turbo Gas Direct Injection (GDI) 4-cylinder 7-Speed Dual Clutch
  • Torque – 195 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm

Needs improvement – The engine wasn’t as responsive in stop-and-go traffic, but that was expected with a compact car.

Positive – The extra horsepower was evident when you come off of a straight stop from traffic light.


Fuel MPG data

MPG (Combined City/Hwy)

MPG (City)

MPG (Highway)

Estimated annual fuel cost (US $)

Potential savings in fuel costs over 5 years compared to the average new vehicle (US $)

MSRP  As Tested

Base Price (US $)

Full Options Price (US $)

Comparison Against Competitive Cars

2017 Kia Soul Turbo

2017 Toyta Corolla iM

2017 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport

2017 Mazda3 5-Door Sport

Comparably Equipped Price (US $)

Comparably Equipped Price (US $)

Comparably Equipped Price (US $)

Comparably Equipped Price (US $)

Additional Comments

I want to add that this car comes with a 10 Year/100,000 Mile Limited Powertrain Warranty, a 5 Year/60,000 Limited Basic Warranty, and a 5 Year/60,000 Mile Roadside Assistance plan.

This is a great car for a student, young adult or empty-nester. The sporty driving experience makes getting around town to run errands so much fun and safe. This car is comfortable sit in and to drive, and it’s easy to handle. The 7-speed in the Turbo makes getting around in stop-and-go traffic a little hesitant, but the extra 40 horsepower shows when it counts. The technology packed into the touch-screen infotainment system is highly user-friendly and helpful. It’s affordable and easy on the fuel budget. In my opinion, if you’re in the market for a Kia Soul, you might as well spend a little extra money and get into the Turbo … it will be well worth it!

All photos provided by Kia and GearBoxTV.