Drive

2016 Kia Soul feels roomier than earlier offerings

Kia Soul may be a compact, but its squared-off shape gives you more interior space than you might expect.

The tight turning radius on the Kia Soul makes it easy to park in small spaces, especially with the rearview camera that’s optional.

Jil McIntosh/For Metro

The tight turning radius on the Kia Soul makes it easy to park in small spaces, especially with the rearview camera that’s optional.

Boxy styling isn’t necessarily the prettiest, but it certainly is practical. The Kia Soul may be a compact, but its squared-off shape gives you more interior space than you might expect.

The base trim line comes with a 1.6-litre engine making 130 horsepower, but I’d suggest moving up to the 2.0-litre engine, which produces 164 horsepower and is used in all the other trims.

The larger engine comes solely with a six-speed automatic transmission and while it gets noisy on hard acceleration, it handles both city and highway driving quite well.

The tight turning radius makes it easy to park in small spaces, especially with the rearview camera that’s optional on the mid-range EX trim and standard on my top-line SX tester.

There’s also a gimmicky feature called Flex Steer, included on all models, which lets the driver switch the steering feel between normal, comfort, or sport.

Kia has made improvements over the original system, which was far too soft in comfort mode, but even in sport mode it could use a bit more steering weight.

At an average published fuel economy of 8.8 L/100 km, the Soul isn’t a gas-guzzler but also isn’t as efficient as many other vehicles its size.

The Soul feels substantial, and the interior is comfortable and with good fit-and-finish. The base model is exactly that, as its extra cost to put air conditioning into it, but the upper trim lines add numerous features.

For $25,995, my tester included a heated steering wheel, heated leather seats, power-folding mirrors and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The top trim, at $27,495, has lane departure and front collision warning, navigation, heated and cooled seats, and a panoramic sunroof.

There used to be far more entries in this “tall wagon” category, such as Toyota’s Matrix, Honda’s Element, and the Nissan Cube.

The Soul has outlasted them all and now, in its second generation, has matured into a well-outfitted model that makes the most of its compact proportions.

The Basics
Type: Four-door, five-passenger compact hatchback
Engine (hp/torque): 1.6-litre four-cylinder (130/118), 2.0-litre four-cylinder (164/151)
Transmissions: Six-speed manual (1.6 only), six-speed automatic
Price: $17,195 (base),as-tested $25,995

Cool Features
• Heated wiper de-icer
• Heated and cooled leather seats
• Rearview camera
• Cooled glovebox
• Front collision warning system
• Navigation system

Points
• Like all Kia models, the Soul comes with a five-year/100,000 warranty that covers almost everything.
• The tested SX Sport trim line comes exclusively in red-black or red-white two-tone colour schemes.
• The Soul has virtually the same headroom as Kia’s midsize Sorento SUV.

Market Position
Although Kia shares most of its model configurations with similar offerings from parent company Hyundai, the Soul is stand-alone with no matching equivalent. It’s also available as an all-electric model, the Soul EV.

The Competition

Chevrolet Sonic

Base price: $14,395

Honda Fit
Base price: $14,790

Fiat 500L
Base price: $21,995

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