2010 Kia Soul review


Base price: $13,300 As tested: under $21,000

Honda’s giant-kitty-carrier-like Element was a big success upon its launch in 2003. It was followed by the horizontal-refrigerator Scion xB in 2004, also popular, and the Nissan Cube is currently making a dent in the cheapo auto market.

The Kia Soul is fun, shrimpy and inexpensive.

Now, with the introduction of the Kia Soul, another breadbox-ish car/shrunken SUV jockeys for position as American autobuyers scramble to cut the steel fat, maximize the gas dollars, and make it through the current financial crisis with body, soul and ride intact.

The Soul’s a grand, fun runt, whimsical and toy-like with its two-toned fire-engine red/grey interior, putt-putt 4 cylinder engine, tiny dimensions and handy interior compartments galore. It comes in four trims; the base Soul, the Soul +, the Soul ! and our tester, the Soul Sport.

Each model comes with limited options such as a moon roof, upgraded sound system automatic transmission and more. Buyers are also encouraged to accessorize their own rides.

Bread delivery on its way, ma'am!

One especially endearing feature are the door-mounted cheap speakers which blink red to whatever music you choose on the fully-equipped sound system.

It's Christmas 24/7/365 with the Soul's groovy dancing speaker lights.

The speakers, like your Uncle Phil at Cousin Louise’s wedding, don’t dance in any particular rhythm, though you may be fooled when you first dig the lights twittering away to Alycia Keys or Billy Idol. Rest assured, however, the speakers don’t have a speck of a clue as to beat. They’re fun regardless, and you may as well get used to them because they can’t be shut off.

The Soul takes all city potholes on the jaw, braking is what it is, and quick acceleration can be accomplished, as usual with cars housing lawnmower-type engines, by the judicious use of lower gears and hi accelerator action.

Will this car last over time? Will it do well in today’s market? That remains to be seen. But those rival boxers xB and Element better start training. – Josh Max, AutoGigolo.com

Type 1.6-liter, inline four-cylinder, Gamma engine with Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT)
2.0-liter, inline four-cylinder, Beta II engine with Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT)
(bhp @ rpm)
1.6-liter – 122 @ 6,300
2.0-liter – 142 @ 6,000
(lb-ft @ rpm)
1.6-liter – 115 @ 4,200
2.0-liter – 137 @ 4,600
Block Material 1.6-liter – Aluminum
2.0-liter – Cast iron
Transmission Type 1.6-liter – Five-speed manual, overdrive
2.0-liter – Five-speed manual, overdrive;
Electronically-controlled four-speed automatic, overdrive
Overall Length 161.6 inches / 4105mm
Overall Width 70.3 inches / 1785mm
Overall Height 63.4 inches / 1610mm
Wheelbase 100.4 inches / 2550mm
Track Width 61.8 inches / 1570mm (front)
62.0 inches / 1575mm (rear)

  • Bold, distinctive styling
  • Chrome-accented front grille flanked by large headlamps
  • Front fog lights (optional on +, standard on ! and sport)
  • Unique front and rear fascias, side sills (sport)
  • Body-color mirrors and door handles (+, ! and sport)
  • Large vertical tail lights
  • 16-inch alloy wheels (+)
  • 18-inch alloy wheels (! and sport)
  • Solar glass (+, ! and sport)
  • Privacy glass (+, ! and sport)
  • Power moonroof (standard on !, optional on + and sport)Interior
  • Black cloth seats and single-tone black interior color
  • Unique sand+black cloth seats and sand+black interior color ( ! )
  • Unique red+black cloth seats and red+black interior color (sport)
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob (! and sport)
  • Metal-finish interior trim (! and sport)
  • Alloy sport pedals (sport)
  • Air conditioning (+, ! and sport)
  • AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system w/ four speakers (six speakers on ! and sport)
  • 315-watt audio upgrade system featuring eight speakers, including a subwoofer and external amplifier (! and sport)
  • USB and auxiliary audio input jack
  • Steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls (+, ! and sport)
  • Bluetooth connectivity (+, ! and sport)
  • Power windows w/ driver’s one-touch down
  • Power door locks (w/ remote keyless entry on +, ! and sport)
  • Power mirrors (+, ! and sport)
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