IT’S A BEST BUY BECAUSE:
Soul delivers impressive passenger room, flexible cargo space, and lots of upscale available features in a tidy, affordable package.
Fuel economy trails subcompact-class leaders, and most optional features can only be had by purchasing pricey option packages.
With the discontinuation of the Nissan Cube for 2015, the Kia Soul is only “box-on-wheels”-type vehicle in the subcompact class—the Scion xB moved to the compact class when it was redesigned on a larger platform for 2008.
WHAT IS IT?
The original Soul joined Kia’s lineup as a 2010 model as a quirky, unconventionally styled subcompact with boxy proportions that gave it surprisingly good passenger and cargo space within its small overall footprint. Soul’s practical packaging, memorable marketing, a high feature-per-dollar ratio, and Kia’s strong warranty helped make the Soul a marketplace success.
A redesigned Soul debuted for 2014 on a slightly larger chassis that was 30 percent stiffer than the original model. The styling was all-new too, though the new Soul retained the same boxy profile and exuberant design spirit of the original.
The base-model Soul is powered by 130-horsepower 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine, while the midline Plus and line-topping Exclaim models get a 164-hp 2.0-liter four. A broad range of optional equipment is available, including rare-for-the-class features such as a panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, and a cooled glovebox.
The Soul was redesigned last year, so its updates for 2015 are limited to an interior-trim package on top-line Exclaim models and an updated UVO multimedia system with new UVO eServices features and smartphone-app features. Kia is also introducing an all-electric version of the Soul for 2015 called Soul EV.
During Consumer Guide® evaluation, a Soul Plus with automatic transmission returned 23.4 mpg; a Soul Exclaim with automatic averaged 22.8. Both tests consisted of mostly city driving. All Souls use regular-grade gas.
VALUE IN CLASS
It’s easy to see that the Kia Soul has a lot of personality, but it’s also one of the most comfortable and refined subcompacts around—particularly in optioned-up form. The ride is decently absorbent, the handling is reasonably nimble, and the cabin is surprisingly spacious. The engine can grow a bit noisy at times, and the sticker prices escalate quickly as options are added, but the Kia Soul is still one the most compelling vehicles in its class.