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2012 Kia Soul

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2012 Kia Soul Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 7.4

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.

You'll Like This Car If...

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

You May Not Like This Car If...

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.

What's New for 2012

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 the Soul

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.

2012 Kia Soul Details
2012 Kia Soul photo Interior

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
2012 Kia Soul photo

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.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

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.

Optional Equipment

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.

Under the Hood

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)

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2012 Kia Soul Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.6
Out of 10

Based on 337 Ratings for the 2010 - 2013 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.7/10
    Quality
    8.5/10
  • Reliability
    9.2/10
    Performance
    8.3/10
  • Comfort
    8.5/10
    Styling
    8.7/10

Highly recommend this car.

By on Sunday, January 24, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 72,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Fun to drive, handles well, great in snow."

Cons: "Could use more luggage space."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I downsized from a 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 to my 2011 Kia Soul Sport and I've not regretted this move. It has great gas mileage, great take off and it handles very well. I have a five speed standard and wouldn't drive anything else. This is a comfortable car, easy to handle and fun to drive. If you are looking for a comfortable, efficient, and fun car, I highly recommend this vehicle."

2 people out of 2 found this review helpful

Love Love Love this car!

By on Sunday, January 17, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,700

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "roomy, good gas mileage for the size"

Cons: "no arm rest, reverse in a manual is differentt"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"In comparison to many cars in the price range of the Soul(Chevy Spark, Mazda M2, Toyota Yaris) this car handles the best and actually worth it's value! I have driven both an automatic and 6spd Kia Soul, and the minute I test drove my 2013 Kia Soul with the 6spd manual transmission I was sold! Extremely roomy, peppy engine, responsive transmission with a clutch that shifts easier than any other manual I have driven, and limited road noise. Both the driver and the passengers have ample room to get comfy on long drives. The trunk even has enough room for 5 passengers to fit their luggage in!"

Spacey, fun, and worth the money

By on Saturday, January 09, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 74,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Great price, fun to drive, great gas mileage, fun"

Cons: "trouble shifting at highway speeds, road noise"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Bought this car from family (luckily they wanted to sell it right as I decided what car I wanted) for trade in value. Car is and has been maintained with great care, drives as if it is brand new. Purchased the car at 50k miles and in the last nine months I have put on almost 25k for my occupation and it has stood the test far better than I expected. The car has needed no considerable repairs since family bought it new, and has only needed to receive basic maintenance. Driving this vehicle takes some getting use to as the 4 cylinder engine can be under powered at times, but once you get used to the engine, it will always respond. For short trips/city driving the car is excellent, it turns nearly on a dime, is quick to accelerate/decelerate and is tiny enough to fit into small spaces and not be obtrusive. Gas mileage may not be great in today's market, but it's nothing to sneeze at, as I average 25-27 mpg daily (including both in-town and freeway, 30+ freeway alone) Problems I've had with the vehicle have been slight, but noticeable after enough time. The vehicle sometimes has trouble shifting in to high gears when at highway speeds (increasing from ~65 - ~85). It does shift, but at times it can be clunky. Road noise is a pretty consistent problem with this vehicle, especially at highways speeds, causing occupants to talk louder or music to be up higher than it needs to be. The vehicle could have used a few different upgrades taht feel like they should have been included, but unfortunately were not. i.e. Tire sensors, distance to empty, oil life tracking, avg gas mileage etc The only displays are the odometer/trip counter and the radio display. The car could have definitely been improved with a few more extra features that feel like they would have been intuitive in a car touted as being full featured, but were left off at the drawing board."

Excellent small utility vehicle

By on Saturday, November 28, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,600

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
Not Rated
Reliability
Not Rated
Quality
Not Rated
Performance
Not Rated
Styling
Not Rated
Comfort
Not Rated

Pros: "Cute, fits into small parking space, good on gas"

Cons: "wish it has a back up camera"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"Bought the car used in 2012. Purpose was to drive the 12 miles to and from work and haul some things that wouldn't fit in the trunk of the Honda. It has served me well. Recently rear brakes have been replaced, both front struts in the past year, all 4 tires are new. No repairs other than those stated have been needed. Oil has been changed regularly by garage where we purchased it. There are some minor dings, nothing significant. The car still looks very nice."

8 people out of 12 found this review helpful

the only problem is that it has no lumbar

By on Wednesday, November 04, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 48,000

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
3/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
4/10
Performance
5/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
1/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5

"great gas milege but very uncomfortable on the driver side and passanger side. Once we bought coushins to sit on it was ok."

3 people out of 7 found this review helpful

I have had a blast driving this car.

By on Sunday, November 01, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 37,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "styling, ride, fun factor"

Cons: "gas tank is too small"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"I looked at the Soul for 2 years before buying a plus. It has been from south Florida to Ohio and Kentucky in the dead of winter and had no problem. On the open road it would run at 80 to 85 mph all day long."

4 people out of 6 found this review helpful

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