2017 Kia Soul: A Party-Rocking Yet Practical Compact Crossover

An Immersive Driving Experience

This is a driver’s car, but not for the reasons you might think. The Soul isn’t particularly fast. Its electronic steering is light, but the chassis is wobbly and can take a bit longer than hoped to squeak to a stop. Engine noise is well-controlled during acceleration, seemingly distant, as though the galloping clamor of the four-banger’s ponies is a stampede happening elsewhere, perhaps in another car.

Almost none of the performance characteristics or the sense-tingling, pulse-quickening experiences we usually associate with a driver’s car are present here, but the Soul is still a driver’s car; a completely immersive experience.

Once inside the cabin, it all becomes clear. The Soul’s interior holds secrets and tells tales as a mix of shadow and light play on swooping ovals, clusters of circles, and chiseled bevels beneath a ceiling that feels tall enough to hang a disco ball from.

Expansive glass spanning the panoramic sunroof creates a private yet spacious cocoon of sunny-day hipness and brings the night stars within an arm’s reach. When the tunes start bumping the show begins as rings of light encircle the speakers, pulsing from red to yellow to green to blue in time with the music’s beat.

Suddenly, everything wrong in the world is right again. This feeling is what makes a driver’s car.

The lightshow speakers can also be set to a mood setting, not tied to the music. However, the lightshow is only available with the Infinity sound system, a pricey upgrade from the base Harman Kardon sound unit.

Styling elements, inside and out, can seem disconnected. Still, somehow it all works. But the Soul’s styling is divisive, creating both fans and critics.

The hood’s face looks like, well, a face – if you squint –  complete with a bowtie-shaped mouth which serves no mechanical purpose. This, like much of the design of the 2017 Kia Soul, is a matter of taste. Some will find the bright-eyed crossover hypnotically charming, while others might find its styling unappealing. Styling cues are more subdued in darker color options. No matter which side of the debate you find yourself on in regard to the Kia Soul’s styling, the lines of the vehicle are unmistakable. There’s nothing else quite like this little upstart.

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