IT’S A BEST BUY BECAUSE:

Soul delivers impressive passenger room, flexible cargo space, and lots of upscale available features in a tidy, a ordable package.

BUT…

Fuel economy trails subcompact-class leaders, and most optional features can only be had by purchasing pricey option packages.

WORTH NOTING:

With its slightly elevated ride height and tall “box-on-wheels” body shape, the Kia Soul straddles the line between a subcompact car and a subcompact SUV. Since it doesn’t offer all-wheel drive, we’ve placed it in our subcompact-car class.

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.

WHAT’S NEW?

The Soul sees just a few updates for 2016. Forward-collision warning and lane-departure warning are available in a Premium package for the top-line Exclaim model (which now comes standard with leather seats). The Premium package also includes amenities such as heated and ventilated front seats, a panoramic sunroof, and a navigation system.  A Designer Collection appearance package includes 18-inch black-spoke wheels and a two-tone paint scheme in either white with a red roof or red with a black roof.

FUEL ECONOMY

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 of the most compelling vehicles in its class.

BASE PRICE RANGE $15,690 – $21,090
BODY STYLES 4-DOOR WAGON
AVAILABLE ENGINES 130-HP, 1.6-LITER 4-CYL.; 164-HP 2.0-LITER 4-CYL.
DRIVE WHEELS Front
BUILT IN South Korea
EPA FUEL-ECONOMY RANGE 24-31 MPG

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