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Kia Soul, 2010: The Weekly Driver car review

soul3Designed in California and made in South Korea for a global market, the Kia Soul joins the expanding, economical box-style segment manufacturers call mini MPVs (multi passenger vehicles). Competitors are the Scion xB and Nissan Cube.

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 American dealerships.

With its varied trims, engines, colors and accessory options, Kia proudly declares the 2010 Soul is available in more than 10,000 combinations.

outsidesoul
The Weekly Driver Test Drive

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 carry the whole team and the supplies. But the Soul is a good, economical alternative for transporting about half the team.
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Kia Soul Interior

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.

Kia Soul Exterior

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.

Likes:

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.

Dislikes:

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: 24 mpg (city), 30 mpg (highway)
Government Safety Ratings: Not yet tested.
Horsepower: 142.
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 Drive.

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.”

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