KBB Logo Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.

Editor's Overview

The 2018 Kia Soul wagon’s styling remains fresh and funky, and its interior offers room for five, or two people and a ton of cargo. Kia knows its intending audience is a young one, so Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are along for the ride, as are the UVO3 infotainment system, autonomous emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.

You'll Like The 2018 Kia Soul If...

Kia’s 2018 Soul compact wagon is a tempting choice for anyone seeking a boldly styled, fun-to-drive hatchback that’s as easy on the wallet as it is on gas. Available equipment like a harman/kardon audio system and advanced driver-assist features make the choice all the more easy to live with.

You May Not Like The 2018 Kia Soul If...

If you need your next compact car to have the year-round driving ability afforded by all-wheel drive, you’ll need to look elsewhere. And, while the 2018 Kia Soul is a competent driver, it lacks the go-kart-like ride and handling of the Mazda3, Honda Civic and Ford Focus.

What's New

For 2018, the Kia Soul sees the UVO3 infotainment system expanded to the Base Convenience package and made standard on the Soul Plus. The Plus Primo package becomes the Primo Lit package and gains HID headlights, LED positioning lights and a new Wild Orange paint option. A more powerful battery increases the Soul EV's full-charge electric range to 111 miles (up from last year's 93 miles), which is good, but can't match the new Nissan Leaf's 150 miles and pales beside the Chevrolet Bolt's 238.

Interior Features

The 2018 Kia Soul wagon offers 5-passenger seating, although four will be more comfortable. Upholstery and trim get notably better as you climb the model ladder, with the Soul Exclaim getting contrast stitching on its cloth and leather seats, plus a sporty D-shaped steering wheel. Available dual USB ports allow you to recharge one phone while the other is used for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The Soul's boxy shape provides very good headroom for all passengers, and offers good cargo space, especially when you fold the rear seatbacks down. The pulsating speaker lights are pure whimsy.

Exterior Features

You'll still immediately recognize Kia’s Soul for 2018 for what it is, but there are minor tweaks to the exterior that distinguish from the first generation. Front and rear bumpers have changed a bit, with the Soul Plus getting body-color inserts, and the Soul Exclaim getting black. The Exclaim also distinguishes itself from its non-turbo mates with 18-inch alloy wheels, dual exhaust tips, HID headlights and LED fog lights – updating an exterior already known for a quirky blend of function and fashion. The upright styling offers good cargo and passenger space, and the distinctive vertical taillights are practically the car's signature. The Soul EV has a front charge port tucked neatly away behind a solid grille in front.

Driving Impressions

The Soul’s driving experience is on par with similar cars like the Nissan Juke, Chevy Trax and Hyundai Elantra GT, but it’s the turbocharged engine in the 2018 Kia Soul Exclaim that really wakes this car up. The Exclaim’s on-road performance is further enhanced by firmer shock and spring settings along with a big 18-inch wheel/tire package. While we give Kia credit for improving the Soul’s steering feedback, it’s still not up to the standard set by the Honda Civic and Mazda3. Cornering capabilities are better than one would expect from such a tall vehicle, but some of the fun is sapped from the experience by the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. We found it slow to shift, and random surges of power sometimes made us question if the transmission was fully engaged, even when using the Sport setting. And why are there no steering-wheel paddle shifters? Oh well, maybe next year. The battery-powered Kia Soul EV has the quiet operation desirable of electric vehicles (EVs), but not the quickness. It takes over 11 seconds for the Soul EV to reach 60 mph. The Chevy Bolt are both significantly quicker and offer longer ranges.

Pricing Notes

The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price on the 2018 Kia Soul Base with a manual transmission starts right at $17,000 including the $895 destination charge; add about $1,600 if you want an automatic. We suggest at least the Soul Plus, starting around $21,200 and which offers more power and options as well. If you want turbo power, you'll need $23,700 for the Soul Exclaim. Options add up of course, but even a fully loaded Soul Exclaim is less than $28,000, which is a pretty solid price for a very nicely equipped, uniquely styled and fun-to-drive hatchback. If you decide to go electric, the Soul EV starts at nearly $35,000 with the Soul EV+ starting close to $37,000. It compares nicely with compact SUVs like the Honda HR-V and Fiat 500X, and against compact hatchbacks like the Honda Civic and Chevy Cruze hatchback. Check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area paid for their 2018 Kia Soul, and note that resale value is generally very good.

Notable Equipment

The 2018 Kia Soul comes in three models: Base, Plus (+) and Exclaim (!). Base models include 16-inch alloy wheels, a new drive-mode function, and an updated audio system. They combine with preexisting features: air conditioning, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, 6-way-manual-adjust driver's seat, power windows and door locks and Bluetooth wireless technology. The standard engine is a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder connected to a 6-speed manual transmission, making the base model the only Soul available with a stick. Higher-level models come standard with more, like bigger engines, better interior materials, and larger wheels, including 18-inch alloys on the Exclaim. The Soul EV comes in two trims: The EV and the better-equipped EV+. Both come with heated front seats and steering wheel, environmentally-friendly interior materials, a DC Fast Charge port, and the ability to start the climate system while the vehicle is still charging.

Notable Options

Options vary by model level, with base models with an automatic transmission offering a Convenience Package that adds the UVO3 infotainment system with a rearview camera, and automatic headlights. Soul Plus offers the Primo Lit package that combines a panoramic sunroof, leather seats with power adjustments and heating and cooling in front, blind-spot detection, adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and a bunch of other features. Then there's the Exclaim which, along with the turbo engine, offers a panoramic sunroof and a Technology package that adds most of what's in the Primo Lit package, along with a harman/kardon audio system. The top-line Soul EV+ comes with leather seating and heated rear seats, and offers an optional panoramic sunroof.

Favorite Features

TURBO POWER

Who doesn’t love horsepower? With the 2018 Kia Soul 5-door wagon, you’ll get all the power you need without sacrificing fuel economy. In fact, the turbocharged engine in the Soul Exclaim gets the best fuel economy of the Soul’s three engines. The only penalty is the extra cost, but it’s worth it.

APPLE CARPLAY AND ANDROID AUTO

With Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, your infotainment system will always be as up to date as the latest smartphone. Both systems allow you to access everything on your phone, such as the iPhone’s Apple Music or Android’s Google Maps.

Under the Hood

The Soul Base model gets a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder with a meager 130 horsepower, connected to either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic; to say it's sluggish is an understatement. The Soul Plus comes with a more satisfactory 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with 161 horsepower connected only to a 6-speed automatic. Last, there’s the 1.6-liter turbocharged engine, with its 201 horsepower and 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. All Soul models are front-wheel drive and while all are fairly fuel-efficient, the thriftiest is actually the turbo, and not the base model. The electric Kia Soul EV makes 109 horsepower and 210 lb-ft of torque. Charge times take from 33 hours on a 120-volt outlet to a more reasonable 5-plus on a 240-volt outlet. DC Fast Charging can be done in about 30 minutes.

1.6-liter inline-4

130 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm

118 lb-ft of torque @ 4,850 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/30 mpg (manual), 25/30 mpg (automatic)

2.0-liter inline-4

161 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm

150 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/30 mpg

1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4

201 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm

195 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500-4,500 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/31 mpg

A/C Synchronous Permanent Magnet motor (Soul EV)

109 horsepower

210 lb-ft of torque

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 124/93 MPGe

EPA range on a full charge: 111 miles

Editors' Notes

Since its debut, we’ve loved everything about the Kia Soul except its lack of power. Well, that all changed last year with the introduction of a new turbocharged engine. With more power onboard, the 2018 Kia Soul wagon delivers in every area that matters. Its styling remains fresh and funky, and the interior provides room for five, or two people and a ton of cargo. Kia knows its intending audience is a young one, so Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are along for the ride, too. While the 2018 Kia Soul doesn’t offer the all-wheel-drive capability of the Fiat 500X, Mazda CX-3 or Mini Cooper Countryman, it competes well against the Chevrolet Cruze and Honda Civic hatchbacks, and its 10-year/100,000-mile warranty smokes them all. The all-electric Soul EV touts gas-free driving, and its range has increased to 111 miles.

Road Test Video Reviews

2018 Kia Soul Owner Reviews

4.56
220 Reviews
68% 25% 5% 1% < 1%
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Happy customer and happy wallet

2018 Kia Soul Base

I have had this vehicle for over a year and half, and I have had no issues with the car. The Kia Soul is a great car, especially for someone who is looking to purchase their first new vehicle. The car is fantastic for the price you pay. I have the base model, automatic, which has all the standard features, nothing special. The car drives smoothly. Brakes are a little sensitive at first, but as you get used to the vehicle, it's not so bad. The car doesn't sit too low to the ground, but it also isn't big and feels like your driving a tank. It's quite spacious inside and has a smaller trunk area, but the back seats lay down so it does provide more room if you need it. My biggest downside on the vehicle is that it doesn't come with a spare tire. However, on amazon, you can find a spare tire kit that comes with everything you may need for like $70-$100. Overall, I love the vehicle and thinks it's definitely a good buy.

- Kathryn D

Family car - accessible, comfortable, and smooth action!

2018 Kia Soul

Hard to replace transmission - took over 6 months to get the replacement to work correctly. Comfortable seats with adjustable headrests. Excellent heating and air conditioning. Heated seats and dual heating and air conditioning controls in the front seat. Separate heating and air conditioning controls in the middle and rear seats. Plenty of room in the cargo area - deep and available areas to hang grocery bag handles. Has great "pick up" on interstate. Easy to handle no matter the condition of roadways. Great vehicle for trips or for around town. Gas mileage is reasonable in town - better on interstate. Audio speakers are well balanced. Side rear doors open flat and can be opened with key fob - wonderful when have an arm load of cargo.

- J C

Kia souls may be plenty but they are not good!

2018 Kia Soul

The car is way too small in the trunk. I can't even put a suitcase or diaper bag in there since there is no depth. When you take off, the car sounds like you are breaking the sound barrier but you are only going 30 mph and it takes forever to get up to speed. I say a few "hail mary's" if I accidentally pull out in front of someone because you may get ran over. There is no cd player so you are almost coerced into paying for sirius. It should get better gas mileage for something that is basically the size of a go cart. I hate the car but can't trade it in because 6 months after buying it new it is half the value of a new car.I give it 2 instead of 1 stars because it does have good head room for the driver and a good warranty.

- Laura S

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