It seems I’m always starting my reviews with having to admit I have to change my initial opinion of a vehicle that I’ve only seen from afar. Well this is another instance where I must admit, it’s better than I believed. 

This time it’s for the Kia Soul Plus. I’ve seen them from afar in the past and always thought it was a “box”. Literally. A box with hip-hop hamsters. Not really something I’d consider for myself or for any specific purpose. True, it’s part of the small, economy car segment and is designed specifically to be tight on cost, and external dimensions. Well, it succeeds on both of those accounts.  

Recently I spent some quality time with Kia Soul in various conditions and challenges. Probably the most brutal of the challenges was spent at Death Valley National Park in 110 degrees. We also enjoyed it in bumper to bumper city traffic as well on the open highway. Let’s get right into it and quickly review our thoughts and findings. 



Curb appeal is what held me back from considering this Soul as a vehicle that I personally might consider. It should be noted here that I am a fan of low, sports vehicles with flowing lines. This Kia is upright and square. Case closed. That being said; it grew on me. I understand. 

I understand that with it being a subcompact, external dimensions are key in being efficient in space as well as consumption. Why have long overhangs over the wheels that serve no purpose? Why have less headroom for the sake of making the car lower in height? That would defeat its purpose. 

Like I said this Kia’s looks grew on me. I understand it and am not visually opposed to it. I found it refreshing to know that this vehicle was easily identified in the sea of other sedans in a packed parking lot.  

The straight horizontal lines as well as the chopped rear end looked pretty good in the wild. What I found appealing was the long expanse of side windows which helped lengthen it. It added to the modern look. So though this is a small-scale crossover, it looks pretty good in its efficient form. 



The interior of our model had cloth seating for five. There is another level above the Plus model that we had which has leather, but these days the humanitarian choice is just fine. In some cases, it might even be better. Our vehicle had the standard black interior that stayed reasonably cool after sitting in a hot Nevada and California sun. It felt fine and didn’t sweat like leather can on occasion during a long drive if not ventilated. 

The seating was properly upright and supportive. The front bucket seats hugged without being restrictive. Rear seating was fine for two of course, but could fit the stated three in a pinch if necessary. Leg room was not an issue for normal sized passengers.  

The generous storage room was appreciated. Depending on whether you have the rear seats up or folded and items in the luggage tray you have access to just under 19 cubic feet to over 61 cubic feet available. The cargo area is adequately squared off so its usable and functional space. 

The controls and media interface were well laid out and functional. Nothing was puzzling or foreign to anyone who drives for any amount of time. The Soul had the obligatory USB and Bluetooth options as well.  


Driving Reflections 

This vehicle did not drive like you’d expect a subcompact to drive. It did however feel and operate like a small crossover. It felt great.  

In the city and maneuvering parking lots and traffic the short wheelbase allowed us to point and shoot where ever we wanted and between obstacles as desired.  

The ride was very compliant and solid without being stiff or jittery. There was no harshness in the road feel whether on smooth highways or on dirt paths. At highway speeds I found the vehicle very capable of maintaining highway speeds without much shifting to stay at speed on slight inclines or altitude gains. Of course, during steep climbs, the small engine had to work more, but the automatic transmission downshifted into a proper gear giving us the torque to climb without much problem.  

One thing that I would like to have improved was the fuel mileage. During our time we averaged just over 30 or so miles per gallon. This was with a pretty good mix of highway driving as well as some high traffic city travels. The mileage on the open highway was in the mid 30s. I would like to have seen it higher, but sometimes the smallish four-cylinder engines have to work harder thus a diminished benefit. 

I also have to applaud the vehicle cooling system. During our trek to Death Valley the temperature was upwards of 110 degrees at times. Whether it was the interior or the engine itself, the car remained constant and cool. The interior never labored to stay cool. Thank you. 



In summary, I must restate, that I was and am still upon reflection, pleasantly surprised by the visuals and operation of the Kia Soul. As a small crossover, it succeeds in providing an efficient and cost-effective package. Once again, though it is very square in appearance, it isn’t as polarizing as the Nissan offering. 





Specifications Kia Soul Plus
Type/layout 2.0L I-4, DOHC Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI)
Horsepower 161 hp @ 6,200 rpm (ULEV-II) / 160 hp @ 6,200 rpm (SULEV)
Torque 150 lb.-ft. @ 4,700 rpm (ULEV-II) / 149 lb.-ft. @ 4,700 rpm (SULEV)
Block Aluminum
Head Aluminum
Valve System DOHC 16 valve
Displacement (cc) 1,999 cc
Bore x stroke (mm) 81.0 x 97.0 mm
Compression ratio 11.5:1
Injection system Spark ignition system
Fuel System GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection)
Fuel Requirement Regular unleaded (87 Octane or higher)
Emission Control System WCC + UCC (LEV3 ULEV70) (LEV3 SULEV30)
Engine Oil Capacity (liters) 4.0 liters
Battery (AH) 70AH (AGM)
Alternator 13.5V, 120A
Starter 12.0V, 1.2kW
6-speed manual transmission
Final drive ratio
Clutch type
6-speed automatic transmission with sportmatic and active Eco
First 4.400:1
Second 2.726:1
Third 1.834:1
Fourth 1.392:1
Fifth 1.000:1
Sixth 0.775:1
Reverse 3.440:1
Final gear ratio 3.270:1
7-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT)
Final gear ratio
Wheelbase (in.) 101.2 in.
Length (in.) 163.0 in.
Width (in.) 70.9 in.
Height (in.) 63.5 in.
Track (in.), (front/rear) 61.7 in. / 62.2 in. (17 in. wheel) / 61.4 in./61.9 in. (18 in. wheel)
Overhang (in.), (front/rear) 33.1 in. / 28.7 in.
Ground clearance (in.) 5.9 in.
Approach Angle (degree) 19.2
Departure Angle (degree) 29.8
Seating capacity 5 passenger
Head room (without sunroof)
Front (in.) 39.6 in.
Rear (in.) 39.5 in.
Head room (with sunroof)
Front (in.) 37.9 in.
Rear (in.) 37.9 in.
Leg room
Front (in.) 40.9 in.
Rear (in.) 39.1 in.
Shoulder room
Front (in.) 55.5 in.
Rear (in.) 54.7 in.
Hip room
Front (in.) 53.2 in.
Rear (in.) 49.3 in.
Passenger volume (without sunroof) (cu. ft.) 101.0 cu. ft.
Passenger volume (with sunroof) (cu. ft.) 96.8 cu. ft.
Cargo volume (rear seat up without luggage under tray) (cu. ft.) 24.2 cu. ft.
Cargo volume (rear seat up with luggage under tray) (cu. ft.) 18.8 cu. ft.
Cargo volume (rear seat folded without luggage under tray) (cu. ft.) 61.3 cu. ft.
Cargo volume (rear seat folded with luggage under tray) (cu. ft.) 49.5 cu. ft.
Body type Unibody
Front suspension MacPherson Strut
Rear suspension Coupled Torsion beam axle (CTBA)
Shock absorber Gas
Type / Power source Motor Driven Power Steering (MDPS)
Overall steering gear ratio 15.7:1
Turns, lock-to-lock 2.85
Turning circle, curb-to-curb (ft.) 34.8 ft.
Type front/rear Vented disc / solid disc
Size (in.) front/rear 11.0 in./10.3 in.
Wheel size (in.) 6.5J x 17 / 7.5J x 18 (OPT)
Tire size P215/55 R17 / P235/45 R18 (OPT)
Spare Tire Tire Mobility Kit (TMK)
Manual transmission (lbs.)
Automatic transmission (lbs.) 3,163 lbs.
DCT transmission (lbs.)
Manual transmission, city/highway/combined (mpg)
Automatic transmission (est) 25/30/27
Dual Clutch transmission, city/highway/combined (mpg)
Fuel tank capacity (gallons) 14.2 gallons