The Kia Soul, who shares its chassis with the Kia Rio, is Kia's entry into the "cool" economy car market. Entering the same market with such models as the Scion Xb and the Nissan Cube, it follows their formula of taking an economy car chassis and wrapping it in a cooler exterior, which has proven more desirable to younger buyers. This new styling was done under the supervisor of Peter Schreyer, who designed the Audi TT and is now Kia's Design Chief.
Both engines available on the Soul are very fuel efficient options. The base engine is a 1.6 liter four cylinder rated at 122 Hp with the upgrade engine making 142 HP from its 2.0 liter four cylinder. Transmission choices are a 5 speed stick or 4 speed auto, regardless of which engine is selected.
The Soul has many of the modern expected features such as standard traction control, stability control, and six airbags. Some of the features are themselves designed to lure the younger crowd, such as a hounds tooth interior and lights on the speakers which pulse to the beat of the music.
Body styles: Four-door hatchback
Engines: 1.6L I-4, 2.0L I-4
Transmissions: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic
Models: Base, + (plus), ! (exclaim), sport
Minor changes come with the 2011 Soul: the exterior door handles are now the grip-type, plus on ! and sport models, heated side mirrors are available. Inside, rear-seat headrest height adjustment and illuminated window switches are standard, blue and green have been added to the speaker lights, and new options include automatic climate control, leather seats, cargo cover, and pushbutton start.
The Kia Soul is one of several cute econocars that have come to the market recently. Styling combines charm and character, which draws the eye of younger buyers, while not compromising safety or fuel economy.
There are a lot of standard features, including power windows, air-conditioning, aux jack, and satellite-radio ready stereo. Optional cool items: cruise control, Bluetooth, leather seats, pushbutton start, houndstooth interior, and speakers that light up.
Performance & Handling
Even though the Soul isn't all that heavy, the optional engine isn't all that powerful -- and that's got 20 more horsepower than the smaller engine. With the 2.0-liter, the Soul reaches 60 in 8.3 seconds, and completes the quarter mile in 16.6 seconds at 82.6 mph. The Soul's ride can be rough and the manual transmission is unrefined and vague.
Dual front airbags, seat-mounted side airbags, and full-length side curtain airbags are standard. So are disc brakes with four-channel ABS with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution, stability control, and traction control.
EPA Fuel Economy
Base: 26 mpg city/31 mpg highway
+, ! , sport: 24 mpg city/30 mpg highway
- Cute looks
- Cool interior
- Great price
- Decent power
You Won't Like
- Small cargo area with seats up
- Coarse engine
- Noisy ride
- Body roll
Cute, capable Scion-fighter
If You Like This Vehicle
- Scion xB
- Nissan Cube
- Honda Fit