Soul With Speed: The 2017 Kia Soul ! (Exclaim)

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Kia Soul ! (Exclaim)
The 2017 Kia Soul ! (Exclaim).
The Kia Soul has proven itself to be the best of the funky little urban "is it a car or a crossover?" boxes that came along at the beginning of the decade.  In fact, save the Nissan Juke, which moves a fraction of the number of copies the strong-selling Soul does, the others (Scion xB, Nissan Cube) are dead and gone.

The Soul simply offered a stronger blend of utility, price and features.  And now, performance enters the mix.

Rear 3/4 view of 2017 Kia Soul ! (Exclaim)
2017 Kia Soul ! (Exclaim).
For 2017, Kia is offering three levels of power with its three levels of Soul.  The base Soul (called the Base) has a 130-horsepower engine.  The + (Plus) model steps up to 161 horsepower.  And the ! (Exclaim) is now turbocharged with 201 horsepower.  40 more than the +, 71 more than the Base.  The spread between the Base and the ! is  like the difference between '66 Mustangs with a 200 cubic inch six and a 289 four-barrel V8 in terms of the driving experience.

The Soul !'s engine is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that is also unique to the ! model.  And the EPA fuel economy estimate of 26 city/31 highway is actually higher than those for the Base (24/30) and  the + (25/30).

Interior view of 2017 Kia Soul !
2017 Kia Soul ! interior.
Say yes to the ! and you get a full complement of airbags, anti-lock braking with brake assist, traction control, electronic stability control, vehicle stability management, hill-start assist control, tire pressure monitoring, automatic climate control with cluster ionizer, power windows, locks and mirrors, a seven-inch touchscreen for the audio system with a rear camera built in, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay (smart for technologically mixed families), SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Bluetooth, USB, leather and cloth interior trim, a 60/40 split folding rear seat, pushbutton start, a tilt/telescoping steering column, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, a cargo cover, automatic headlights, fog lamps, outside mirrors with built-in turn indicators and privacy glass.

All that...standard....along with the 201 horsepower, seven-speed dual-clutch automatic and the best gas mileage of any of the 2017 Kia Souls....for $22,650.  Oh, yeah...and Kia's 10 year/100,000 mile limited powertrain warranty...and a five-star overall safety rating from the feds.

Load one up (ours had the $1,000 optional panoramic sunroof and the $3,000 Technology Package with navigation, an upgraded Harmon Kardon audio system, projector low beam headlights, LED fog lights and positioning lights, power folding outside mirrors, power heated front seats and heated rear outboard seats, a heated steering wheel, LED taillights, blind spot detection and center console USB chargers...plus $120 in floormats) and you're still at $27,620 with $850 inland freight and handling.

It's not cheap, but it's not unreasonable for what you get.  The Soul ! is worth every penny.