• Car Review: Kia Soul Exclaim gets potent turbo engine

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    d3-01-kia-soul-turbo20161227Have you ever wanted to turbocharge your soul?

    Well, you could go to a Tennessee tent revival; or settle for a mechanical power boost by checking out the new-for-2017 Kia Exclaim and its 1.6-liter turbocharged, 4-cylinder engine.

    Kia added the 201-horsepower power plant to juice up what was already the brand’s best-selling model. The Korean carmaker reportedly sold almost 150,000 Souls last year.

    To squeeze in a few more sales, the company is trying to appeal to members of the performance crowd, who had apparently been clamoring for more horsepower in the Soul. Luckily, the company already had a blown, 1.6-liter four-cylinder in production for the Forte Koup. It was basically a no-brainer to drop it into the Soul, as well.

    The result is a hot little hatch/wagon with lots of standard content and a price tag of only $23,620 after adding $850 freight.

    Just the facts: Five-passenger, front-wheel-drive wagon with funky styling and a surprisingly good content-to-cost ratio. Standard goodies include push-button ignition, automatic climate control, Android Auto and Apple Carplay, leather and cloth upholstery, a 7-inch touch screen, SiriusXM satellite radio and fog lights.

    Worthwhile option: Opting for the Soul Exclaim turbo package also gets you 40 more horsepower than the base, normally aspirated engine. If you are an audiophile, check the box for the optional 8-speaker Harman Kardon sound system bristling with 315 watts of power.

    It’s good for Chattanooga buyers because where else are you going to find a car with Volunteer-orange upholstery stitching.

    How much? Our Clear White tester lists for $23,620. Base Souls start at $15,990. Get a mid-trim Soul Plus starting at $19,650.

    Cool stuff: Oversized seats sized to fit the average American rump, red trim pieces on the rocker panels that give the car a pop of color, a sophisticated seven-speed dual clutch transmission on turbo models.

    We could do without: Strange Kia nomenclature that insists on calling the Exclaim the “!” and the Plus “+.” Come on Kia. Cute is cute, silly is silly.

    Wish list: To match the Soul’s playful vibe, we’d make moonroof standard on turbo models. Also, Kia could think about adding paddle shifters to fit the turbo’s playful demeanor.

    While you are looking: Also test drive the sassy Nissan Juke small SUV and Honda’s Swiss Army knife, the Fit mini-wagon.

    TNS

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