By Joe Santos
KBB Expert Rating:
Since its debut in 2009, the Kia Soul has enjoyed brisk sales and rave reviews that have helped the Soul get off to a good start, but questions remain about its popularity in the long-run. Of course, an impressive array of standard features, one of the most original and modern interiors in the segment and a price tag starting well below its competitors make the Kia Soul a tempting morsel indeed. For 2012, Kia has restyled the Soul and given it features that make it even more competitive with the likes of the Nissan Cube and Scion xB. At this rate, we could wager a good guess that the Soul will be around for years to come.
If you're looking for a vehicle that is both versatile and affordable, but you don't want to look like you're driving a car whose only attribute is that it's versatile and affordable, the 2012 Kia Soul is the car for you
While the Kia Soul is a formidable competitor for cars like the Scion xB and the Nissan Cube, it doesn't hold onto its resale value as well as either.
For 2012, the Kia Soul receives a minor facelift, new drivetrains and a host of new interior features. The Soul Sport trim level has been discontinued.
Driving Impressions Our time behind the wheel of the 2012 Kia Soul was spent with the Soul + trim level with the new 2.0-liter engine. While we would have preferred more city...driving in order to get a rounded evaluation of the revised powertrain, the high-speed cruising gave us a taste of the passing power that the additional 22 horsepower can deliver. While this was impressive, the new 6-speed automatic does require a downshift or two on inclines and when passing, but it also allows for quieter, low-rpm cruising at freeway speeds. The manual-shift mode came in handy a couple of times and we liked the fact that there wasn't a long pause between gear shifts. While the ride quality remains the same as the previous-generation Soul, it was noticeably quieter thanks to the added insulation.
Infinity Audio System
The new 350-watt system is music to our ears, quite literally. We enjoy the crispness and the clarity of the new sound system.
6-speed automatic transmission
We always wondered why the Soul even came with a 4-speed automatic in the first place. The two extra gears aid in greater fuel economy and the tap up/tap down shifting makes passing effortless.
We give high praise for the 2012 Kia Soul's interior. Not only does it feature radical themes, such as an available hounds-tooth fabric interior and multi-colored backlit speaker grilles that pulsate to the music's beat (this feature can be turned on and off), it also is highly functional and just plain fun. Functional features include front and center iPod bins, a dual-shelf glovebox, fold-flush rear seats and a storage bin under the cargo area's floor. A tilt/telescoping wheel is now standard for 2012 and the improved isolation promotes a quieter cabin.Exterior
From its intricately-detailed headlamp housing to its uncommon profile, the 2012 Kia Soul is anything but commonplace. Three differing trim levels – the Soul, the Soul + and the up-level Soul ! – offer varying visuals, in addition to their non-standard names. For 2012 all models received new front and rear fascia and headlamp treatments and a new Moss color option is available. The Soul has 15-inch wheels, the Soul+ rides on 16-inch wheels and The Soul ! has 18-inch wheels.
The base 2012 Kia Soul comes with a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. All other Souls feature a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, with a new 6-speed automatic transmission. Other standard equipment on the inexpensive base model includes air conditioning, power windows and locks, tilt/telescoping wheel and a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3/Sirius XM audio system with USB and auxiliary ports. All Souls feature six airbags and electronic stability control.
Check all the option boxes and your 2012 Kia Soul will include front fog lamps, a moonroof, a new 350-watt 7-speaker Infinity sound system, leather-covered steering wheel and shift knob, steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls and Bluetooth phone connectivity. Other notable options include ISG (Idle Stop and Go) technology, a navigation system, UVO infotainment system and a rearview camera.
The 2012 Kia Soul features a 1.6-liter engine with 138 horsepower - 16 more than the engine it replaces - mated to either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. And the 2.0-liter engine in the higher trim levels has been revised as well, offering 164 horsepower - 22 more than before - but is available only with the 6-speed automatic . Both versions receive a welcome bump in fuel economy.
1.6-liter in-line 4
138 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
123 lb-ft of torque @ 4,850 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/35, 29/36 (automatic transmission + low-rolling-resistance tires)
2.0-liter in-line 4
164 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
148 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/34, 27/35 (automatic transmission + low-rolling-resistance tires)
The 2012 Kia Soul base model has a Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $14,000. The top trim Soul ! starts just under $20,000, but can jump to around $23,000 with all the option boxes checked. The 2011 Scion xB starts around $16,500 and can be equipped into the low $20,000 range, while 2011 Nissan Cube sticker prices range from just over $15,000 to slightly beyond $20,000. Other Soul strengths include an attractive warranty (10-year/100,000-mile powertrain, 5-year/60,000-mile basic) and competitive resale value. To get the best price on your 2012 Kia Soul, be sure to take a look at its Fair Purchase Price on kbb.com before heading to the dealership.
By roz (TX) on Monday, May 13, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "unique design, for under $15k"
Cons: "gas mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"Overall I like the KIA Soul,however the gas mileage is very disappointing for a 1.5 L with barely 25mpg in city , my '06 focus with a 2.0L does better @ 28 mpg and a '13 Fiesta with 1.8 L is doing 35 mpg. The Kia gas rebate for misleading stated city mpg is a pain to go through. I plan on selling the car immediate future."
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By ShoePuppy (WI) on Friday, May 03, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 400overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Price, space, standard features, great looks"
Cons: "so far none"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I bought this car a little over a month ago. I bought the base which has everything I need. The only option I purchased was 16" alloy wheels. The smaller engine has plenty of pep, and so far I am averaging 29 mpg. Since I only drive in the city, max of 40 mph, with most of it being 25, that is not so bad. Can't wait to break it in and try a road trip. Very agile and fun to drive. I like the stiffer suspension. It is very quiet and so far love it!"
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Jaime Kia Soul Lover (TX) on Wednesday, May 01, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "space inside for small vehicl, luxuries for price"
Cons: "gas mileage not what advertised, no lumbar support"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I had a 2012 Kia Soul !. I absolutely loved it. Unfortunately, I was hit while driving and flipped it. Let me just say, the car held up immaculately and did not fall apart after rolling (see picture). I was not seriously hurt. Overall, I loved the car. My issues were: I only got about 27 MPG instead of the 29-40 it showed on the sticker, and there was no-lumbar support in the drivers seat. When I bought the car, I also bought the maintenance plan. I highly recommend it. It will keep your car running great without you having to pay for the oil changes and tune-ups that are required to maintain a vehicle."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By SoulFULL (CA) on Wednesday, April 24, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Really, really a lot for your money..."
Cons: "MPG is not great for a small car...but OK!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"And it still does every time I drive it! I bought a made in USA KIA Sorento SX for my wife and then a Soul plus for my college daughter....and have been so impressed by KIA that I bought my first "foreign" car in my 40 years of driving! A 2013 Soul Exclaim. Seriously...the quality, value, assembly, reliability, supurb paint and nice amenities are great...but reliability and mileage are terrific too. And the 10 year 100,000 mile warranty is icing on the cake! And the fact that it has unique looks and styling up the wazoo means that you're not "into" driving the ordinary compact cars that you see filling the local shopping center. You can actually pick out your car in a crowded parking lot without a blood hound helping you! My Soul is comfortable, easy to get in and out of, roomy and as I said..well appointed. Seriously packed with a (Exclaim Model) 350 watt Infinity 8 speaker stereo with a separate amp, voice activated (UVO by Microsoft!) radio, stereo, phone, etc! Huge nice 18" unique alloy wheels and performance all season tires, fog lights, projector headlights, led front and rear lighting, standard moon roof, power folding mirrors, etc, etc! Mine is a beautiful Moss Pearl Paint...really terrific paint job. And the upcoming 2014 KIA Soul has been updated and slightly restyled...go to one of the many KIA Soul Owners Forums like I did to research more info on them."
4 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Joe (NJ) on Tuesday, April 16, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Most value for the money"
Cons: "Mileage not what promised but good"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"My 2011 Kia Soul! is probably the best new car I have ever purchased and I have owned almost every brand of car since I started driving!. Never had to return to the dealer for any problems. I love driving it and am impressed how easy to get in and out with plenty of headroom and space. The backseat can fit people with plenty of knee room and head room. With the rear seats folded, there is abundant carrying space! As soon as I test drove one, I knew it was the perfect car with all the accessories I wanted!"
7 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Chic (TX) on Thursday, April 04, 2013
I owned and sold this car
Reason: not a good car - My approximate mileage is 5,000
Pros: "Nice color, nice look cute car....."
Cons: "Made cheap, depreciation, road noise,"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I bought a loaded Kia ! in October of 2012. Big Mistake!!! This is the roughest riding car I ever owned. The paperwork said I would get 29 miles to the gallon on gas never got over 23 miles to the gallon. And don't drive it when it's windy cause its hard to hold on the road. Lot's of road noise just a cheaply made car all around. We only kept it about 5 months and were constantly pressing parts back on the enterior. The transmission has allready started slipping only put 5000 miles on it in 5 months. Hardly drove it except to work and back. Terrible not worth the money the dealership wants you to pay."
10 people out of 13 found this review helpful