Designed in California and manufactured in South Korea for a global
market, the Kia Soul joins the expanding and economical box-style
segment manufacturers prefer to call mini MPVs (multi passenger
vehicles). The Scion xB and the Nissan Cube are competitors.
The Soul debuted at the Paris Motor Show in 2008, it was first
available in February 2009 in Europe and a month later debuted in North
With its varied trims, engines, colors and accessory options, Kia
proudly declares the 2010 Soul is available in more than 10,000
By coincidence, I drove in consecutive weekly test drives, the
Nissan Cube followed by the Kia Soul. Both vehicles are innovative and
in some ways, they’re a lot of alike — versatile, Utilitarian Hatchback
Vehicles or UHVs (I made up the term.)
I primarily drove the Soul in city jaunts, the grocery store and
other routine life tasks. Like the Nissan Cube and Scion xB, it’s
nimble and a lot of fun while scooting around town. Parking lots,
parallel parking, U-turns — all easily handled.
I’m about as far removed from being a soccer mom as possible. And
nor am I a youth baseball coach. The trio of box cars leaders won’t car
the whole team and the supplies. But the Soul is a good, economical
alternative for transporting about half the team.
The Soul is the first Kia that breaks the manufacturer’s traditional
simple equation: economy means boring. The instrumentation panel and
console features are still straight-forward, but they’re now curved and
come in color patterns, matched with an interior decorator’s closest of
upholstery offerings, including two-tone and sometimes non-matching
seats and console.
One oddity: There’s plenty of leg and head room. But that means Kia
has opted for the comfort of the passengers (a good thing), and not a
lot of room for passengers’ stuff.
While grouped in the box-and-wheels segment, Kia Soul designers have
taken the best features of other models, like the Sonata, and
incorporated those curves and refinement into the Soul. It’s the most
stylish of the three major players in the class.
Kia Soul Performance
I like manual-drive cars, and it’s a treat to shift gears in a
vehicle one might expect to be offered only as an automatic. The
five-speed manual shifts smoothly and the zero to 60 mph standard test
rating of 8.8 seconds seems soft. The Soul seems surprisingly quick for
its segment and its 2.0-liter, 142-horsepower numbers. Neither the Cube
nor Soul are quiet on the highway, but the Soul ride gets more bumpy at
higher speeds. The 18-inch wheels help the cause.
Like all Kia models, the good-value pricing and industry-leading warranty are hard to ignore.
What’s your favorite color or three? The Soul has a near unlimited supply of color schemes.
Great head and leg rooms for front and rear seat passengers.
The multi-colored console colors. Good for a first impression or shock value, but just not that attractive.
Noisy on the open road.
Its outside appearance gives the impression it has expansive cargo room. It doesn’t.
2010 Kia Soul Sport: Facts & Figures
Acceleration: 0-60 mph (8.8 seconds)
Airbags: Dual Front, Front Seat-Mounted, Full-Length Side Curtain Airbags, all standard.
Antilock brakes: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Fuel economy: 34 mpg (city), 30 mpg (highway)
Government Safety Ratings: Not yet tested.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $16,650.00
Price As tested: $18,345.00.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 10 years/100,000 miles; Powertrain, 5
years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/60,000 miles; Roadside
assistance, 5 years/60,000 miles.
What Others Say:
“It’s nice to see a manufacturer that’s doing something right in
this slumping economy. And with the launch of its 2010 Soul, Kia is
definitely doing something right.” —- Chicago Sun-Times.
“What we have here is the first Kia that people will buy for reasons
other than price, although the price is mighty attractive, too. I liked
this funky little box far more than I expected.” —- Automobile Magazine.
“Nothing about the Soul suggests it can’t hold its own with more
familiar competitors for even less cash. Considering Kia’s lengthy
warranty, Soul could hit spot-on its Gen-Y target.” —- New Car Test
The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:
“Like the Nissan Cube, economy box cars make a lot of sense, once
you get past the initial shock of a new look on the road. The 2010 Kia
Soul is economical, just like other Kia offerings. And warranty to
steady performance, the name of the car seems right.”
James, a journalist since 1976, is co-author of Tour de France For
Dummies. He owns several websites, contributes to many print and online
publications and is also the editor of TheWeeklyDriver.com. A long-distance runner for nearly 30 years, Raia also rides his bike — to nearby coffeehouses. E-mail: email@example.com.