Subcompact car; Built in South Korea
  • 4-door wagon
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $5,100 – $17,900*

2010 Kia Soul front

2010 Kia Soul

2010 Kia Soul

2010 Kia Soul

  • Entry/exit
  • Maneuverability
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Acceleration
  • Quietness
  • Ride quality (with 18-inch tires)

Like the Scion xB and Nissan Cube, Kia’s funky urban truckster combines quirky, hip styling with efficient passenger and cargo space. Soul is more stable and relaxed than most subcompacts in highway driving, but it is no less noisy or underpowered. Its fun-to-drive character shines through best in urban driving. We also applaud the Soul’s comprehensive list of standard safety features.


Launched for the 2010 model year, the Kia Soul was a new subcompact car from this Korean automaker. Soul was a front-wheel drive, four-door wagon, slightly larger than Kia’s Rio. Four trim levels were offered: Soul, Soul+, Soul!, and Soul sport. Base Soul models were powered by a 122-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that teamed with a five-speed manual transmission. Standard on all other versions was a 142-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder that paired with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. Standard safety features included antilock braking, traction control, an antiskid system, front-side airbags, and curtain-side airbags. Power windows and locks were standard on all models. The base Soul had 15-inch wheels. Soul+ added 16-inch alloy wheels, remote keyless entry, and a wireless cell-phone link. Soul! had a sunroof and 18-inch wheels. Soul sport got unique 18-inch wheels, a sport suspension, and specific interior and exterior trim. An uprated audio system was optional on Soul+ and standard on Soul! and Soul sport. Added during the model year were four special-edition models: Denim Soul, Ghost Soul, Shadow Dragon Soul, and Ignition Soul. Based on the Soul+, the Denim version had specific paint and wheels and included the uprated audio system. Soul had two principal box-shaped rivals: the Nissan Cube and Scion xB.

Yearly Updates

2011 Soul
The manual-transmission Soul! and sport were discontinued. Leather upholstery with heated front seats was newly optional on the Soul! and sport. Two new Special Editions went on sale, based on the Soul+. Otherwise, the 2011 Soul saw few changes following its introduction for 2010. For 2012, Kia is giving the Soul a fresh appearance and new powertrains.
2012 Soul
Along with freshened styling, the 2012 Kia Soul got more power. The base 1.6-liter engine went from 122 horsepower to 135, and the 2.0-liter went from 142 hp to 164. Transmissions were also new. The previous 5-speed manual was replaced by a 6-speed, and the 4-speed automatic gave way to a 6-speed.
2013 Soul
Kia gave Soul a pretty thorough makeover for 2012. However, there were some small changes for 2013 too. The grille surround was finished in dark chrome, and better-quality hides were used on leather-wrapped steering wheels. A Bluetooth wireless cell-phone link was standard for all models, along with steering-wheel-mounted radio controls. Soul+ (plus) models with manual transmission added standard cruise control, and Soul! (exclaim) got power-folding side mirrors. An Eco package with an idle stop/start function and low-rolling resistance tires was only available on Soul+ models equipped with the automatic transmission.


transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Prior to 2012, a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 122 horsepower went into the base Soul, offered only with a five-speed manual transmission. Other models got a 2.0-liter four-cylinder developing 142 horsepower, teamed with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. For 2012, the 1.6 was rated at 138 hp, while the 2.0 was rated at 164 hp. Both were available with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. All Souls have front-wheel drive.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.6/98
Engine HP 122
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 115
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual


dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.6/98
Engine HP 138
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 123
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
6-speed automatic
dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/122
Engine HP 142
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 137
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/122
Engine HP 164
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 148
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
6-speed automatic

Road Test

Pre-2012 models with the 2.0-liter engine are fine in around-town driving but struggle to provide adequate highway passing power. Models with a manual transmission are slightly peppier than those with automatic. One test manual-transmission model suffered from ragged shifter and clutch action. Other manual test cars were smoother. The four-speed automatic transmission is reasonably alert and smooth, but the engine’s prolonged high-rpm operation during acceleration suggests that a fifth gear would be welcome. For 2012, both the 1.6- and 2.0-liter engines got more power, and they were mated to either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. These cars are much peppier around town, though the 1.6 runs out of breath in highway passing.

Fuel economy is appealing. In Consumer Guide testing, pre-2012 manual-transmission 2.0-liter models averaged 26.3 to 29.1 mpg. An automatic-transmission Soul averaged 27.7 mpg. A couple of 2012 Souls with the 2.0 averaged 24.8 to 26.4 mpg, but that was in mostly city driving. Souls use regular-grade gas.

Non-sport models are generally stable and composed in both city and highway driving. Most road imperfections are well muted; only sharp bumps pound through. The body structure feels solid. If installed, 18-inch wheels take a heavy toll on ride quality; some test cars suffered from annoying, loud thumping over even modest bumps. Soul sport adds a sport suspension, which brings a stiffer (though not uncomfortable) ride.

Soul is reasonably nimble, with some noticeable body lean in turns. Direct, accurate steering provides good road feel. Brakes are smooth and strong. Compact exterior dimensions and a reasonably tight turning radius make for good close-quarters maneuverability. Soul sport is only slightly sharper overall.

Quietness is not a Soul strong point. Tire noise is always prominent, joined by wind rush at highway speeds. The engine groans loudly in acceleration, and its note never fully recedes in constant-speed cruising.

Clearly marked main gauges are tunneled and backlit for good visibility in all light conditions. All audio and climate controls are within easy reach. The audio system has large, clearly marked buttons; climate controls are large, handy knurled dials. Auxiliary audio/USB jacks and a 12-volt power outlet are conveniently grouped together at the bottom of the center stack. All but the base Soul have steering-wheel-mounted audio, cruise-control, and wireless cell-phone link buttons–a nice feature at this price level. Interior details are on par with class competitors; cabin materials are price-appropriate and well assembled. Dashboard controls move smoothly. Interior plastic doesn’t look cheap, but all of it is hard and unpadded, including the door- and center-console armrests.

Front seats provide ample headroom and legroom for most adults. Seat foam is a bit spongy, but seats are comfortable and decently supportive. Forward visibility is excellent thanks to a large upright windshield and thin roof pillars. A large rear window and generously sized rearview mirrors provide fine rear visibility, but large rear roof pillars hamper the view to the rear corners. Tall doors and a high seating position make entry and exit a snap.

Rear occupants get adult-size headroom, foot space, and legroom, even with the front seats all the way back. However, the back seat is a bit too narrow for comfortable three-abreast adult seating, and it lacks a fold-down center armrest. Rear entry/exit is easy.

Rear seatbacks fold without removing the headrests in a 60/40 split to provide ample cargo space. The rear cargo area includes a handy under-floor cargo organizer. Generous front-seat storage spots include a large two-tier glovebox, a small dashtop compartment, two console cupholders, a console armrest bin, and ample door pockets with cupholders. Rear-seat passengers get only front seatback nets and door-mounted cupholders.


Model Tested: 2011 Kia Soul! w/auto.

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 4
Fuel Economy - 7
Ride Quality - 4
Steering/Handling - 5
Quietness - 4


Controls/Materials - 6
Room/Comfort Front - 7
Room/Comfort Rear - 6
Cargo Room - 7


Value - 7

Total: 57


4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
100.4 161.6 70.3 63.4
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
53.4 12.7 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.2 39.6 42.1 39.0
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2010 Soul 4-door wagon


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Front Passenger Injury - 5

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Rear Passenger Injury - 4


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Engine misfire
Description: Oil Control Valve of Constant Variable Valve Timing may cause rough idle and poor acceleration. (2010)
Steering noise
Description: Power steering pump noise is often caused by a dirty screen in the fluid reservoir causing partial starvation of the pump requiring reservoir replacement. (2010-11)
Tail/brake lights
Description: Stoplight/taillight bulbs have short life expectancy and improved bulbs that last five times longer have been made available. (2010-11)
Electrical problem
Description: Low profile mini fuses (without protruding blades) used in these vehicles may be currently difficult to find at retail stores. (2010-11)
Transmission problems
Description: Vehicles equipped with 2.0L engine may have hesitation or delayed shifts unless the transmission control unit is updated with more recent software. (2010-11)

Recall History

Description: Wiring harnesses for advanced lighting speakers in front door trim panels on some vehicles manufactured from September 7, 2009 through July 30, 2010 may have been improperly soldered. When lights are illuminated under certain conditions, an electrical short may occur that could result in fire.
2010-11 Soul
Description: The stop lamp switch in the affected vehicles may malfunction and cause the brake lights to not illuminate when the brake pedal is depressed or may cause the brake lights to remain illuminated when the brake pedal is released. A stop lamp switch malfunction may also affect the operation of the brake-transmission shift interlock feature so the transmission shifter would not be able to be shifted out of the park position. Dealers will replace the stop lamp switch free of charge.
2010-13 Soul with sunroof
Description: A headliner plate may detach during deployment of the curtain side airbag.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.

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