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After just four years of being on sale, the Kia Soul has come into its own. In a class of cars that depend entirely on kicky looks and athletic appeal, the Soul's punchy attitude has been its foot in the door–and its bulldog nose, boxy tail and edge roofline just work.
It helps that the Soul is more practical, too, than the other style-driven machines in its segment--cars like the Nissan Cube, Hyundai Veloster, and Scion xB.Understandably, the Soul has seen very few changes to its design or package. Last year the Soul became a little quicker and a little more fuel-efficient, thanks to revised powertrains, but it's stuck to its formula in hitting the sweet spot for U.S. commuters looking for a second (or first) car with style, flexibility, and frugality. There's still nothing else quite like it.
The base 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine now has 135 horsepower, while the upgraded 2.0-liter has 164 hp. With six-speed manual and automatic transmissions, and a new Eco package (including an engine stop-start system), the Soul's fuel economy should hit a new peak. And with an eager, frisky feel in terms of handling and low-speed responsiveness, the Soul works very well as an urban runabout.
The 2013 Kia Soul doesn't take up any more space than a subcompact car, yet its tall roof and boxy shape promise a lot more usefulness. Inside there's nothing so radical about the design; you'll find a roomy, versatile, almost minivan-like layout; there's enough room for up to five, or plenty of cargo if you fold the rear seats forward.
The Soul has a standout design and fashionable look inside and out, all for a price that's about the same as less exciting small cars. So it's all the more surprising that the Soul's feature list has what it takes to woo shoppers seeking value as well. Unfortunately a navigation system still can't be had if you also opt for UVO, Kia's voice-activated control hub for phone and audio. But at about $20,000 for a well-equipped Soul, this is still quite the deal for those who want a little wagon-like utility, but with the driving feel and fuel budget of a small car.
- Crisp, charismatic design
- Nimble, eager driving feel
- Roomy interior
- Strong safety scores
- Fuel efficiency
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- Road noise
- Navigation means no UVO
- Long throws for manual shifter