2010 Kia Soul ! A/T

In my eye, the Soul is a standout thanks to original styling - something that's a true first for Kia. The Korean automaker has been on an upswing with design lately, but even the attractive Forte compact looks rather derivative. The Soul, on the other hand, looks like nothing else. Sure, you could say its square edges were inspired by the Nissan Cube or the Scion xB, but the Soul has a unique stance and shape that delivers fresh style with more traditional proportions.

The Soul is a genuine value with a pleasant driving demeanor, great equipment, and an excellent price. I'd say the only thing truly holding it back is a great advertising campaign. Oh, and at 24/30 mpg, it seems there is another mile per gallon or two in the highway fuel economy with a five-speed transmission.

Eric Tingwall, Associate 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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