Kia’s square compact is still cool.
When the Soul showed up in 2010, it made waves. Thanks in part to a successful Super Bowl ad, the Soul secured its spot in the boxy-car trifecta along with the Nissan Cube and the Scion xB. The Soul is the best seller of the bunch by a large margin, and it’s easy to see why. Nifty, funky, and quirky are all words that can describe its styling. Big, buggy headlights and a squared-of, swept-back design give the Soul a sportier look than its competition. Kia added a dark chrome grille surround for 2013. Bold exterior looks are accented further by wacky but appealing paint options. Inside, there are lights in the door-mounted speakers that can flash in time with the music. The Soul! has a voice-activated infotainment system with a 4.3-inch color touch screen and a rear camera display. The two four-cylinder engines now make more power. The 1.6-liter engine, paired with a six-speed manual transmission, produces 138 hp. Not enough? A 2.0-liter produces 164 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. It’s available with the six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. The larger engine is standard on Soul+ and Soul! models. If flower power is more appealing to you than horsepower, there is an available eco package that features automatic stop/start and an Active Eco system for optimal fuel-efficient driving.
new for 2013
The Soul gets a dark chrome grille surround, as well as a revised “Kia” badge on the hood, liftgate, and steering wheel. Bluetooth is now standard on the base model with the manual transmission. Power-folding exterior mirrors are standard on the Soul! trim level. Molten, titanium, and moss exterior colors are now available across the line.
ABS; stability and traction control; front, side, and side curtain air bags; a tire-pressure monitoring system; and hill-start assist are standard.
Admirable fuel economy
Robust engine output
Boxy outside, roomy inside
Interior materials are a bit of a letdown
Sportier model not available
Base Price Range: $15,175–$20,675
TRIM LEVELS: Soul, Soul+, Soul!
BODY STYLE: Hatchback, 5-passenger
ENGINES: 1.6L I-4, 138 hp, 123 lb-ft
2.0L I-4, 164 hp, 148 lb-ft
TRANSMISSIONS: 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic
PASSENGER VOLUME: 102.3 cu ft
CARGO SPACE: (rear seats up/down) 19.3/53.4 cu ft