AMERICANS UNDER FINANCIAL SIEGE RETURN TO TRAVELING BY BOXCAR
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.
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.
One especially endearing feature are the door-mounted cheap speakers which blink red to whatever music you choose on the fully-equipped sound system.
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)