Vital Stats

Engine:
2.0L I4
Power:
164 HP / 148 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Auto
Drivetrain:
Front-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
2,778 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
53.4 CU-FT (max)
MPG:
26 City / 34 HWY
Now that I really think about it, it turns out I actually know quite a few Kia Soul owners. Three of my friends have them, a friend's mom just bought one, and even my building's maintenance guy has one. Every time I talk to any of these people, they make a point of telling me just how much they enjoy owning a Soul and how the quirky Kia is just about perfect for their respective needs. When this red Molten one showed up in my parking lot, the maintenance guy spent a good 15 minutes inspecting it from top to bottom, seeing how it compares to the last-generation Plus model that he holds so dear.

There's good reason for all the commotion, too. The Soul offers an interesting package that offers good looks, functionality, technology, efficiency and refinement in droves, but does so in a way that attracts people who like vehicles with good ground clearance and a commanding seating position. Wrap all that in an incredibly affordable package, and there's indeed a recipe for success here.

Driving Notes
  • The uplevel 2.0-liter inline-four got a much-needed massaging during the 2012 model year refresh, and as a result, power has been upgraded from 142 horsepower and 137 pound-feet of torque to 164 hp and 148 lb-ft, meaning...
  • There's ample power on tap without a huge sacrifice in efficiency. Even with this more potent powerplant, fuel economy is rated at 26 miles per gallon in the city and 34 mpg highway. The base 1.6-liter engine that we previously tested is down by 26 hp and 25 lb-ft but only offers one extra MPG in both the city and highway cycles.
  • Kia's new six-speed automatic transmission offers smooth shifts, even when jumping down a couple of gears for passing on the highway. The transmission will run a gear up all the way up to its redline before changing cogs, but if you insist on doing so, you'll be punished with lots of buzzy engine noise.
  • The 18-inch wheels of this tester look really sharp and help drive home the funky/cool design of the Soul, but combined with the P235/45R18 Nexen tires, they can make for a harsh ride on less-than-ideal surfaces.
  • Having an upright windshield and large greenhouse might be great for visibility, but wind noise takes a hit. Thankfully the upgraded Infinity stereo has no problem offering good sound quality when it's turned up – you'll be doing that often to wipe out the wind noise on the highway.
  • This top-level ! model – that's pronounced, "Exclaim" – offers leather seats (heated up front) as part of the $2,500 premium package. My test car had just under 500 miles on the odometer and the hide already looked worn in places, especially on the rear bench.
  • However, those rear seats are comfortable and quite spacious. I had no complaints from passengers and though I'm admittedly only five-foot, seven inches, I found ample amounts of headroom and legroom. Fold those seats flat and you'll be rewarded with 53.4 cubic feet of cargo space, too.
  • That said, the rest of the interior looks and feels top-notch, with nicely grained plastics in a two-tone black-and-tan color palette throughout the cabin. Specific elements like the leather-wrapped steering wheel and padded leather trim on the doors give an added element of luxury, too – welcome niceties in a car with a sub-$25k price tag.
  • Actually, make that sub-$24k. Even this fully loaded Soul ! with the premium package and accessories like a cargo net, rear bumper applique and auto-dimming mirror only stickers for $23,575, including $775 for destination. With a price like that (not to mention Kia's 10-year/100,000-mile warranty), it's no wonder this car continues to be an enormous success.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 89 Comments
      TruthHertz
      • 2 Years Ago
      The 2.0L is not a GDI engine! The 2.0L is a larger version of the engine found in a Hyundai Elantra. It is MPFI. Only the 1.6L is GDI.
      gardengroveguys
      • 2 Years Ago
      To the guy who said he'd take an "Accord, Fusion or a Camry instead"...good luck finding your car in a crowded parking lot at Walmart among all the rest of the Clones! At least the Soul stands out, has a roomy interior, tons of standard features, and yet gives incredible value for the price, is top rated for safety and owner satisfaction, has the 10 year 100,000 mile warranty and 5 year free roadside assist for flats or if you lock yourself out. Go ahead and drive a "toaster" if you want...and be like all the other robots out there driving the mundane, vanilla, mind numbing "I've got the same car as everyone else" Camhondas!
      FIDTRO
      • 2 Years Ago
      Whenever I look at the Soul I'm always reminded of a storm trooper helmet.
      FuelToTheFire
      • 2 Years Ago
      No wonder Kia and Hyundai are doing so badly. Ugly styling, lying mpg and hp claims, and terrible reliability.
        NightFlight
        • 2 Years Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        Ignore the troll. Hyundai and Kia are doing better than they ever have.
        sick of stupidity
        • 2 Years Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        simply a hater...both companies sales are through the roof and surveys are doing fine. with such ha spike in sales there is a spike in complaints...but % are on tap with acceptable. MPG on the Sportage and Optima are fine from our experiences...with a 10 year warranty someone will be backing the drive train. Interior is on par with other Asians and american crap in the same price range while ride is a bit harsh on most models compared to Euro and American. Just a hater...
        • 2 Years Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        [blocked]
      RL to RL
      • 2 Years Ago
      24k for this car. LOL I'd just get a fusion/camry/accord instead. What a joke.
        Travisty
        • 2 Years Ago
        @RL to RL
        Idiot. 1) It starts at $14.4k but can be *optioned* up to 24k. You know, just like your Camry can be *optioned* up to $36k+. 2) Why the heck would I want a mid size car? My parents own 2 new Accords (~'07 and '11?) and they're boats, wallowing around in the slightest corner. And even though they both have the v6, they're worthless at accelerating in just about anything except highway situations...
          RL to RL
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Travisty
          Oh look! I can't make a comment without resorting to name calling. How old are you anyway? And you drive a tC. Based on that alone your comment about V6 cars not worth crap other than highway is automatic is just BS. I said "I" NOT "everyone". Guess you can't read either. LOL
        tagberto
        • 2 Years Ago
        @RL to RL
        Besides the price difference pointed out by Tavisty.... those other cars are sedans! Boring.
      Joe
      • 2 Years Ago
      I drove one of the last gen models, it was my grandpas rental, it rode like crap, had no power and wasnt very comfortable.. Somehow tricked myself into taking it to pre prom on account of the fact that it would take up alot less space in my friends driveway than my Pilot.. As i backed it into the driveway EVERYone looked at it
      Joe
      • 2 Years Ago
      I drove one of the last gen models, it was my grandpas rental, it rode like crap, had no power and wasnt very comfortable.. Somehow tricked myself into taking it to pre prom on account of the fact that it would take up alot less space in my friends driveway than my Pilot.. As i backed it into the driveway EVERYone looked at it
      GN
      • 2 Years Ago
      This thing shouldn't pass the $15K.
        S.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @GN
        It's 2012 - you can't get much of anything south of 15k
      zoom_zoom_zoom
      • 2 Years Ago
      $24K. LOL. Sorry, for that much money, I'm buying something that's NOT a toy. A Mazda CX-5
        Vinuuz
        • 2 Years Ago
        @zoom_zoom_zoom
        Or perhaps a Honda Accord Sport with the 6 speed manual..
        BB79826
        • 2 Years Ago
        @zoom_zoom_zoom
        This starts at $16k. A $24k CX-5 won't have half of these features. And it'll take you nearly 3 seconds longer to get to 60. Looks like I'll be zoom_zoom_zooming right past you on the on-ramp, dude.
          Roger
          • 2 Years Ago
          @BB79826
          Amen. These things are all over the road where I live. Like them or not, they're popular as hell and apparently a heck of a lot of value and fun in one package. And love or hate the styling, they don't look like everything else on the road these days.
        whatamooseiam
        • 2 Years Ago
        @zoom_zoom_zoom
        There's always a fool here who comments about the fully loaded price and starts comparing it to another just because its price starts under it. 1. These two cars are targeted to different buyers. The CX-5 is for people who are cross shopping with a CR-V, Rav-4. The Soul is for people cross shopping with the Cube, Element and Xb. 2. The CX-5 weighs over 3200lbs. The Soul weighs under 2800lbs. 3. The CX-5's 2.0L engine takes about 9.5 seconds to go to 0-60. The 2013 Soul 2.0L takes about 7.5 seconds. 4. The CX-5's 2.0L mileage is 26/32mpg. The Soul's 2.0L is 26/34mpg. 5. The CX-5 starts at $23.4k for auto and goes up to $30k fully loaded. The Soul starts at $16.2 auto and goes up to $23.5k fully loaded (Actually, I picked the top model and checked EVERY option plus destination, and I still got only $22.6k). 6. It's like saying why would anyone buy a Civic when the Accord's pricing starts under a fully loaded one...
      Zcd1
      • 2 Years Ago
      Unlike most commenters here, we actually OWN this car and it's a GREAT little car for what it is. If you drove the pre-2012 model and comment based on that car, the comments don't apply to the 2012 and newer models. Kia added not only the more powerful engines, but also TONS of sound-deadening material AND the 6-speed auto transmission, all of which add up to a much more refined driving experience. Yes, the ride can get choppy over really broken pavement, and above about 75 mph the wind noise does become more pronounced, but the car remains stable and comfortable. Also the Infinity stereo system ROCKS, and the UVO system is a model of user-friendliness. It's a near-perfect little runabout, with cool styling, tons of passenger room and even a surprising amount of cargo room with the back seats folded down. I'd buy one again in a heartbeat. For reference, our other 2 vehicles are a 2011 (STaSIS-fettled) Audi S4 and a current-generation Acura MDX.
        Teleny411
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Zcd1
        Good points. I don't own, but like this vehicle. It'd cute, practical and efficient: it's not designed to be a sports car. But I think a few folks don't get that.
        ishmaelcrowley
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Zcd1
        I think its a great car. The + version I had for a couple of weeks had lots of power and got reasonably good mileage. The ride is a little too choppy over potholes (IMHO). I think you really need that optional backup camera (those rear posts are wide) and the seats in the + were a little thin and flat in the cushions. I had the optional spare tire in the back. These are all nit picks but could make a very good little car even better. They're selling very well. So much for Americans not wanting hot hatches.
        msspamrefuge
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Zcd1
        I don't own a Soul, but I don't get the negativity, either. The pre-2012 reviews I read generally opined that it was a promising runabout that could stand for the kinds of refinements Kia has made in earnest here, save for rough surface ride isolation. And I'm willing to bet that the OEM Nexens are just as, if not more culpable than the suspension since cinderblock rubber can exaggerate firmness.
          Zcd1
          • 2 Years Ago
          @msspamrefuge
          Haters gonna hate, I guess.... Regarding the tires, our Soul Exclaim arrived with Hankook Optimo 456s, and for the car's purpose, they're fine. They possess decent dry and wet grip, and are quiet. I also bought a set of snow tires, because after 10+ years of driving only AWD cars, I want all the winter traction I can get with this FWD car.
        ladynytemyste
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Zcd1
        My husband was in need of a new car, so we bought a Kia Soul 2012 and love it. He's a tall guy, so headroom was really important for him and this car delivers in that. It's comfortable to sit in, gets good mileage, looks good and so far we've had no problems with it. The ony problem I personally have, as another poster mentioned, is that the back post are wide making it hard to see sometimes so I have to be extra careful. But otherwise we really like it.
      Carpinions
      • 2 Years Ago
      I think the Soul is probably the biggest hit Kia's ever had. I'd love to have one, and I drive an MS6. I'm sure I'd modify the suspension to change its road manners, and I'd probably add a turbo too, so it had 200-230 hp. But, this thing has to have been giving Scion designers cold sweats each night since it came out. It far surpasses the xB in desirability, it probably drives better, it's lighter and better on gas, and it nails its market segment while enticing older buyers. It can't carry much but it looks like a great commuter. And to top it off, it is annihilating the xB and Cube in sales. Awesome job Kia.
      Neutral President
      • 2 Years Ago
      I have no strong feelings one way or the other, but I had a good look at the Kias at the Toronto Auto Show in the spring, and all of them – without exception – had interiors that were showing the wear and tear of the show ciruit far worse than anything else i looked at. Especially the leather interiors, which were wrinkled and stained worse than a perma-tanned 1980s porn star. No other vehicle i saw on the show floor was even close to that level of wear, except for the Honda CR-V with a leather interior that had also reached a similar level of accelerated decrepitude in a presumably short time. Kia's design and level of equipment are fantastic, but they definitely seem to cut corners on the quality and durability of the interior materials to get such high content for such a low price.
        John
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Neutral President
        I have to add a second opinion here... Judging the wear of a cars interior at an auto show is a little shallow minded... considering that auto shows see thousands of visitors a day and the cars that are the most accessible to the attendees are always the brands like Kia and Honda... they will see the most traffic and because Kia's are a super value for the money then people really bang on them and don't care how they are treated. The same people who use a Kia like a jungle gym will then go over to a BMW and even if you are allowed to sit in it then people treat that car like it's made of gold. I don't know about you but my Dodge Challenger is my prize possession and I treat it like it's the baby Jesus. However, even after 6 months my leather seats are showing early signs of wear. So go ahead Kia and let people inspect your products thoroughly at auto shows so everyone can really see how well you guys are doing. I'd buy a Soul! in a heartbeat for a fun city car when I don't want to take the Challenger out or I can't fit a chair in it from Ikea.
          A Danforth Wilkins
          • 2 Years Ago
          @John
          +1 about the car show stuff. Please tell me you drive an R/T.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @John
          [blocked]
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