2010 Kia Soul ! A/T

I'll admit this Kia has grown on me. When it first debuted I dismissed it as a generic version of Japanese box cars, namely the Nissan Cube. That's still true -- the Soul won't turn heads or make the statement that Nissan's rolling washing machine does - but it also happens to be a better car. This holds particularly true inside. The Soul has its share of cute/annoying gimmicks, including houndstooth seats (cute) and mood lighting (annoying), but it also makes a genuine effort to accommodate the driver with interesting textures on the dash, comfortable chairs, and better fit and finish overall than I recall on the Nissan. It's quite a testament to the maturity of this Korean automaker.

David Zenlea, Assistant Editor

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Rented one from Hertz in Florida this summer. Surprised about how well it's built, no longer the sardine-can feel of cheap cars, interior is nice and even the hard plastic does not look cheap as in other cars. Engine noise above 65 is a weakness. Surprised of its handling being an econobox, in expressway exits felt like in rails...well at least at econobox speeds.Would be nice to see a smoother 200 HP DI engine with a sweet 6 speed, without going much over the current price. Would make a great second car or a car for young families. Still concerned about long-term reliability, though.When I was young no body cared when the Japanese came, I'm concerned that now the Koreans are showing up in our shores and Ford and Chevy are still selling the old Focus and the Cobalt.Missed to say this car won 5 star rating in the latest more difficult Insurance Institute tests, when other well know and more expensive cars were not able to reach the top rating.

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