2010 Kia Soul ! A/T

The Kia Soul is a testament to the fact that a vehicle doesn't have to have a giant footprint to be a useful cargo hauler. Sure, the Soul won't swallow as much junk as a Chevy Suburban, but I managed to fit in two upholstered easy chairs and a bunch of other assorted objects that I purchased during a spur-of-the-moment trip to Ikea. When the warehouse workers first wheeled the chairs out of the storeroom and I saw how large the boxes were, I had doubts that they'd fit in the Soul. However, with the back seats folded down, the bulky boxes fit -- with room to spare.

I find the Soul's design particularly charming, with its rising beltline tempering the box-on-wheels theme that is becoming increasingly popular among Asian carmakers. The interior is also nicely put together - not lavish, but definitely not downmarket considering the Soul's sub-$20,000 price tag. I was pleasantly surprised by the four-cylinder engine paired with a four-speed automatic transmission - it certainly doesn't make the Soul a racehorse, but at only 2820 pounds, the Soul doesn't need a lot of power to help it move right along. I was able to quickly bring the Soul up to highway speeds while merging onto I-94, and it happily cruised with traffic at 80 mph.

Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor

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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