Mexico Automotive Review drove the Kia Soul 2018 EX Pack version down Queretaro’s colonial inner-city streets, industrial park avenues and interstate highways to test what the smallest member of Kia’s SUV family brings to the table.
While most compact SUVs and urban crossovers available in the Mexican market follow a round-all-around design pattern from bumper to bumper, Kia Soul 2018 breaks the paradigm by combining a rounded front with a boxy rear that makes its iconic silhouette stand out in traffic. Kia’s bet has paid off considering the Soul has been a hit in the US and an up-and-coming contender in Mexico. Soul was Kia’s second best-selling vehicle in the US in 2017 with 115,712 marketed units and in Mexico, the Korean brand successfully marketed 8,161 units by the end of that same year.
In the first six months of 2018, the Kia Soul 2018 became the fifth best-selling vehicle in the Mexican compact SUV segment. While the price of the Kia Soul EX Pack may seem a bit high when compared to competing medium-range vehicles, the amenities and equipment the Soul brings along make paying that little extra worth it. At a starting price of MX$266,900 (US$13,800) for its entry version, the Kia Soul includes features such as a reverse camera, audio controls in the steering wheel and a six-speaker audio system with USB and Bluetooth capabilities, as well as mood lighting in the front speakers that are usually unseen in the more basic versions of volume vehicles.
In Mexico, Kia targets a demographic between 25 and 35 years of age for this small SUV. Looking at the connectivity features that youths demand, the Korean brand added an 8in touchscreen, as well as Android Auto and Apple Carplay connectivity to the mid and top versions of Kia Soul 2018. Though pretty well-equipped, the Kia Soul could include a navigation system and a display for important vehicle data such as fuel consumption.
In terms of space, the Soul may look small but its interior has more than enough space to carry an average Mexican family or a group of friends going on a road trip, provided they do not carry a lot of luggage. While its cabin can comfortably fit up to five people, the Kia Soul EX Pack’s trunk could use some more space for cargo.
When testing the Kia Soul 2018 EX Pack’s speed, we realized that this vehicle responds fast when needed and can withstand difficult driving conditions such as heavy rain or irregular roads. The combination of soft steering with a decent amount of torque and solid brakes make Soul’s handling easy, even in harsh conditions. All versions of the Soul come with electronic stability control capacities, ABS brakes with a braking assistance system (BAS), cruise control and front and curtain airbags.
There are three different motorizations available for Kia Soul in Mexico depending on the version. The Kia Soul LX is powered by a four-cylinder, 1.6l, 16-valve, DOHC engine that can deliver a maximum 122hp at 6,300rpm and reach a torque of 151Nm at 4,850rpm. This entry-level version comes with either an automatic or a manual six-gear transmission that delivers a combined fuel efficiency of 16.33 km/l in its manual version and 16.43 km/l in the automatic version.
The medium EX and EX Pack versions, as well as the EX Pack FIFA Edition are powered by a four-cylinder, 2.0l, 16-valve, DOHC engine that can reach a maximum 150hp and 6,200rpm and a torque of 191Nm and 4,700rpm. This powertrain, combined with the six-gear automatic transmission, makes for a fast, responsive and reliable drive and a combined fuel efficiency of 15.12km/l.
Last but not least, the top-of-the-line Kia Soul SX equips a four-cylinder, 1.6l, 16-valve engine with a maximum power output of 201hp at 6,000rpm and torque of 264Nm at 4,500rpm, with a combined fuel efficiency of 16.51km/l. This version also includes a double-clutch transmission that makes its driving more similar to that of a sports hatchback than to an SUV.
Whether you are looking for a ride to take the kids to school or go on a road trip with friends, the 2018 Kia Soul is a great option for drivers that appreciate sporty performance and a large space combined in the form of a boxy crossover.