By KBB.com Editors
With the arrival of the 2010 Kia Soul and 2009 Nissan Cube, the original Scion xB becomes the progenitor of a bona fide little sub-segment defined by funky practicality. Surely, there's a good chance the Soul and Cube wouldn't be here today - in this country, anyway - if not for the success of the original box on wheels. While the Nissan Cube is more reminiscent of the smaller, first-generation xB, the Kia Soul is a more direct competitor to the latest xB. Does the Soul's mix of style, value and technology make it the right choice for you? Keep reading to find out.
Versatility and affordability are admirable qualities in a car, but they sound so boring. The 2010 Kia Soul wraps both in look-at-me styling, creating a vehicle that combines niche appeal with well-rounded practicality.
If you're looking for zip, you'll have to look elsewhere (outside the category, really). A four-speed automatic transmission doesn't help matters, and the Soul's highway mpg rating of 30 mpg (31 mpg for the smaller, less powerful base model) isn't anything to write home about.
The arrival of the Kia Soul puts an end to Scion's near monopoly on economical, versatile, boldly styled cars aimed directly at the younger set.
Driving Impressions The 2010 Kia Soul is interesting to look at, roomy for people or cargo and offers an impressive array of audio and connectivity features. Less notable is the way it...drives: like a run-of-the-mill economy car. It isn't particularly slow (although we haven't driven a base model with the smaller engine) or ill-handling, but the driving experience doesn't live up to the car's otherwise playful demeanor. The five-speed manual transmission doesn't offer the kind of car-driver connection you might want from a manual, and the four-speed automatic is at least one speed shy of flexible. Would the driving experience keep us from buying a 2010 Kia Soul? Absolutely not. Around town and on the highway, the 2010 Kia Soul is as easy and as comfortable as some of today's better compact cars. Just don't expect it inspire you to take the fun way home.
Comprehensive Audio System
The 2010 Kia Soul base model might be hampered with small steel wheels and a lack remote keyless entry, but Kia saw fit to make sure every single Soul has a full-featured AM/FM/CD/MP3/Sat/Aux/USB audio system. That's cool.
The 2010 Kia Soul has the best iPod station we've seen (outside of another Kia or Hyundai): an open bin, in plain view and within easy reach, with readily accessible power and connection ports.
The first thing new Soul owners show their friends are the available speaker lights in the front door speakers, which pulse to the beat of the music or cycle softly with adjustable intensity. Far more important in the long run are the Soul's overall interior design and quality, which we find especially impressive for a car that starts under $14,000. One of our favorite features is the front-and-center iPod bin, detailed further in the Favorite Features section of this review. The 2010 Kia Soul sport is offered exclusively with a very red-themed interior, our favorite part of which is the red glove box interior that makes it easier to see what's inside. Not surprisingly, the tall, boxy 2010 Kia Soul is a roomy and versatile little car.Exterior
We like the simultaneously sporty, quirky and utilitarian look of the 2010 Kia Soul. We like it much better, of course, with the range-topping 18-inch five-spoke wheels than the base model's 15-inch covered steel wheels. The entry Soul is also hindered by black door handles and mirrors in contrast with body-color pieces across the rest of the line. At the opposite end of the price spectrum, the 2010 Kia Soul sport is distinguished visually by unique front and rear fascias and side sills.
For a Lincoln less than $14,000, the 2010 Kia Soul offers a 122-horsepower four-cylinder engine, five-speed manual transmission, air conditioning, power windows and locks, a four-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3/Sat/Aux/USB audio system and an impressive list of standard safety equipment that includes six airbags and electronic stability control.
Check all the option boxes and your 2010 Kia Soul will include a 142-horsepower engine, four-speed automatic transmission, 18-inch alloy wheels, front fog lamps, moonroof, upgraded audio system, leather-covered steering wheel and shift knob, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, cruise control and Bluetooth phone connectivity. The Soul sport gets a sport-tuned suspension, unique front, rear and side styling elements, metal-finish pedals and interior accents, and a red/black interior color scheme.
Although the base model 2010 Kia Soul features a smaller 1.6-liter engine that's paired only with a five-speed manual transmission, Kia doesn't anticipate selling too many. And we probably wouldn't buy it, either. Most 2010 Kia Souls will feature a 2.0-liter engine, offered with a four-speed automatic or the five-speed manual.
1.6-liter in-line four
122 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
115 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/31
2.0-liter in-line four
142 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
137 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/30
By kia lover on Friday, February 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 46,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "head room and body room and cute factor"
Cons: "bumpy rides when roads are bad"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"love this car. am getting a new one just to upgrade to leather and change colors. It is wonderful fun and comfortable. A bit bumpy but maybe 2014 will fix that but no problem. Great in and out, so easy for big and small people alike. Great head room. So much room for stuff and people. Fun to drive, Cute and just perfect. Love it"
By JenJo on Wednesday, February 26, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Cons: "terrible in snow"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This car has heated seats to keep you warm in the winter. The handling and traction are so bad you are going to need them to keep you warm as you are sitting in the ditch or in your own driveway waiting to get pulled out."
By Eastsideguy on Saturday, February 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 29,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "style, interior, handling, safety, fun to drive"
Cons: "lack of traction on snow of 6 inches or more."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"This is my second Soul Exclaim. My first one was a 2011, I swerved to miss a deer and lost control of the car roll and slammed into a utility pole. The car was totaled, all air bags deployed and I walked away with a bruise across my chest that was it. Of course I purchased the 2013 as a replacement, same model all the options. I have really enjoyed it and the newest tech on it has been great. If I had one complaint it would be the traction in the winter. Indiana hadn't been having very bad winters in the last 10yrs. Until this year, with more than 50 inches of snow its been a challenge. After about 6 inches on the ground very poor traction for driving. I wish they offered it in 4WD."
By Me on Sunday, February 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Load lots of stuff, including 7 foot cabinet."
Cons: "Hard ride, plastic interiors"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"This is a fine around town and to the beach cottage vehicle. Lots of plastic and bumps--hard ride. Still, it get around 30 mpg and Kia kicks in a few bucks due to its exaggeration about mileage. At age 73, would not do it again but a nice little gift to pass on to my grandson as he begins to drive. Easy on gas and parking."
By El Maestro on Monday, February 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "transmission , interior plastic , MPG"
Cons: "versatilee ,conpact SUV,interior design, sound ,"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"small suv ,very usefull ,very versatile ,not happy with MPG. ride too bumpy ,interior cheap plastic, transmission should perform better ,decent sound system , I like it's seating and there is enough room for luggage ."
2 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By pikay on Saturday, January 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 42,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good mpg, Joy to drive, Great visibility"
Cons: "poor paint quality"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I live on a dirt road that often is muddy and slick. Car does great. The ground clearance is sufficient to get over the ruts. The height increases the driver visibility better than a lot of sedans. No mechanical issues. Comfortable ride, drove 16 hours without fatigue. Cargo area holds a lot. The flat hatch entry makes it easy to get 50 pound bags in and out. Love the handling, turning radius is tight. I get in and out of places most people can't."
5 people out of 5 found this review helpful