• 2016 Kia Soul

Road Test: 2016 Kia Soul+

Fashionable and Cool and 30+ mpg

The second generation Kia Soul debuted in 2014 as an all-new model and with updates for 2016, Clean Fleet Report wanted to see what the latest was that continues to make this cool small hatchback so popular. We found the 2016 Kia Soul is an affordable fun car that offers a unique style, excellent passenger and storage space, is easy to drive and park, has a great warranty and top safety ratings.

Drivetrain

The front-wheel drive 2016 Soul+ is powered by a 2.0L, DOHC inline-four-cylinder engine producing 164 hp and 151 lb.ft. of torque while running on regular 87 octane gasoline. The power gets to the wheels through a six-speed automatic with Sportmatic (for semi-manual shifting) and what Kia calls “Active ECO,” which means that the gearing is naturally set to maximize fuel economy. The 2016 Kia Soul+ has an EPA rating of 24 city/31 highway/27 combined. We averaged 32.5 mpg over two weeks and 1,099 miles of driving throughout Southern California, mostly on highways averaging 65 mph. For comparison, the Base Soul comes with a 1.6L engine putting out 130 hp/118 lb.ft. of torque, but delivers less fuel economy than the 2.0L we tested.

However, if you are interested in not burning any gasoline at all, you should take a look at the 2016 Kia Soul EV that Clean Fleet Report gave high marks to in a recent review.

Driving Experience: On the Road

2016 Kia Soul,mpg

Lacking a little oomph, but otherwise A-OK

The 2016 Kia Soul+ only comes with the 2.0L engine and automatic transmission, which translates into adequate acceleration and performance cruising around town and even better conduct on the open road. There are few drag racing wins to be had unless you are matched against something like the 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage G4.

The six-speed automatic was smooth with up shifts coming at the correct rpms. Occasionally, I found that downshifts weren’t exactly where I would like them, as in quick maneuvering on the highway, so I simply manually shifted to the desired gear using the Sportmatic feature. This is common across all cars since automatic transmissions can’t be programmed for all driving situations, so no knock on Kia.

The Soul+ weighs in at 2,837 lbs. which felt evenly distributed and never heavy during acceleration, stopping or cornering. Contributing to the sprightly handling was a rack-and-pinion-with-an-electric-motor steering system, front independent MacPherson struts and coil springs and a rear coupled torsion beam suspension. Our Soul+ came with optional 18-inch alloy wheels and 235/45 R18 all-season tires.

The Soul is taller than most hatchbacks, but it never felt top heavy during cornering or quick maneuvers at highway speeds, and there was little body roll or leaning feeling that could be expected from a tall-bodied car. There are three steering options, which Kia calls FlexSteer—Comfort, Normal and Sport, with the Sport being the tightest and most responsive of the three. There was not much noticeable difference between the other settings, which was not a problem as the Soul is easy to drive whether at highway speeds or around town. Going against the preconceived idea that a small car can’t deliver a smooth and quiet ride, the Kia Soul does just that with a comfortable ride and low road and wind noise.

Stopping comes from front and rear active hydraulic boost-assisted, vented front and solid rear disc brakes, with ABS, electronic brake-force distribution, electronic stability control, vehicle stability management and traction control. Rear disc brakes on a car of this size is a rarity. The stops were straight and, after repeated stops from 60 mph, there was no pedal fade.

Driving Experience: Exterior

The distinctive Soul has a very recognizable look and profile, with an upright windshield and a flat but slightly slanted roof, that ends in a near-vertical rear hatch, an optional spoiler and large rear taillights. Up front you will find a lower air intake with fog lamps on the outer corners of the fascia. Our Soul+ had the optional projector beam headlights, separated by a narrow grille, that are flush and wrap the fenders. Changes for 2016 include two-toned paint schemes with the roof carrying a different color, as in a white body/red roof or red body/black roof.

Driving Experience: Interior

The Soul is nicely equipped in the base model configuration. The Plus version—which Clean Fleet Report drove—has just the right finishing touches to really make this car complete with technology and comfort features.

2016 Kia Soul,interior,style,mpg

Big features in an entry-level car

Our 2016 Kia Soul+ had the optional Audio Package that came with an excellent six-speaker Infinity audio system (with subwoofer and external amplifier) that included SiriusXM/FM/CD/AMHD with MP3 playback capability, voice-command navigation with an eight-inch screen, rear back-up camera, Bluetooth for hands-free telephone operation and music streaming. Oh, and don’t forget the very cool speaker lights. These lights surround the round, front door speakers and are controlled by a dash knob that allows for a red light to pulse with the audio or multi-colors that change at a regular interval. Necessary, no. Differentiator from the pack, yes.

Our Plus model had comfortable (for four full-size adults) two-toned cloth seats with manual adjustments for the driver and front passenger, which were separated by a large armrest console with storage bin. The rear seat, with a folding armrest and cup holders, splits 60/40. Cup holders abound throughout the cabin and soft-touch dash and upper door panels, with satin chrome and black glossy trim, had a good feel and look.

The cockpit design is driver friendly with the gauges in easy sight, and the controls handy to reach. Convenience features include power windows and outside mirrors, heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel with cruise control and audio/telephone controls, push button start/stop, automatic climate control, tilt and telescopic steering column, carpeted floor mats, cargo cover and Kia’s UVO Infotainment system.

With a high seating position for the driver, outward front and side visibility is very good, while rear sight lines are a bit compromised by the wide rear pillars.

Pricing

The 2016 Kia Soul comes in four models with these base prices:

2016 Kia Soul,interior, mpg

Surprise–it feels great on the open road

Soul Base – 1.6L with 6-speed M/T – $15,900

Soul Base – 1.6L with 6-speed A/T – $17,400

Soul+ – 2.0L with A/T – $19,400

Soul!  – 2.0L with A/T – $21,300

Clean Fleet Report’s 2016 Soul+ had the Audio and Tarmack Special Edition Packages, bringing the MSRP to $24,420. All prices do not include the freight and handling fee of $850.

Safety

Kia has equipped the Soul with active and passive safety features including six air bags, a tire pressure monitoring system, hill start assist control, and the afore-mentioned four-wheel disc with ABS.

The 2016 Kia Soul has an Overall 5-Star National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA) rating and a Top Safety Pick rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) which is the top ranking from both organizations.

Warranties

The 2016 Soul comes with these warranties:

  • Powertrain – 10 years/100,000 miles
  • Basic – Five years/60,000 miles
  • Roadside Assistance – Five years/60,000 miles
  • Non-impact paint repairs (fading, cracking, chipping or flaking) – Three years/36,000 miles
  • Anti Perforation – Five years/100,000 miles

Observations: 2016 Kia Soul+

2016 Kia Soul,mg,style

A big little package

The 2016 Kia Soul is an affordable fun car that offers a unique style, excellent passenger and storage space, is easy to drive and park, and has a great warranty and top safety ratings. For an all-around car, the Kia Soul+ gets high marks which are well deserved. Heck, even Kia says they upped the “wow factor for the 2016 model.”

The idea of taking a short wheelbase car on a lengthy road trip is a less-than-pleasant thought. But with the Kia Soul those trepidations went away after a few miles. It was easy to find a comfortable driving position, the ride was smooth and stable, road and wind noise were lower than many larger and more expensive cars and the audio system was top notch. There really wasn’t much to desire other than peppier acceleration, which Kia has addressed with the 2017 Soul that has a turbocharged engine option.

So, if you don’t need to be racy (which we never felt the need to be), then the 2016 Kia Soul will be just right for you. With a very low base price and reasonably priced option packages, you will be able to configure a Kia Soul that fits your lifestyle and won’t break the budget doing so.

Whatever you end up buying, enjoy your new car and as always, Happy Driving!

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Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class. We also feature those that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

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About Author: John Faulkner

John Faulkner is an automotive marketing professional with more than 30 years experience branding, launching and marketing automobiles. He has worked with General Motors (all Divisions), Chrysler (Dodge, Jeep, Eagle), Ford and Lincoln-Mercury, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota on consumer events and sales training programs. His interest in automobiles is broad and deep, beginning as a child riding in the back seat of his parent's 1950 Studebaker. He has a keen appreciation of Art Deco design, no bias for domestic versus foreign makes and loves competition - whether that be F1, IndyCar, Sports Cars, NASCAR or participating in Track Days at places such as Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Thunderhill or Willow Springs. John lives in Dana Point, CA, and enjoys a top-down drive on PCH on an early Sunday morning.

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