2012 Soul New Car Test Drive
The 2012 Kia Soul boasts new engines and fresh styling. The Soul is an inexpensive box-shaped runabout aimed ay Gen Y but perfectly suitable for anyone young at heart. Youthful styling ranks high with these buyers, but so do fuel economy, daily practicality, useful standard features like Bluetooth, and good warranty protection.
Lest the Soul doesn't stand out enough for you Kia offers plenty of personalization, with many accessories and ways to attach your identity to your Soul. Their goal with the Soul is to stand out in a sea of sameness, though the basic shape goes some way to that end.
Kia makes no pretenses about what the Soul is: a car. It's not a compact utility, aka cute-ute, SUV, crossover or van. The mechanical basis of the Soul is similar to a small sedan, and no all-wheel or four-wheel drive is offered.
For 2012, the styling has been freshened.
The big news for the 2012 Kia Soul, however, is under the hood. Two new engines are the same size as their predecessors but deliver more horsepower: 138 hp for the 1.6-liter (up from 122) and 164 hp for the 2.0-liter (up from 142). New transmissions help improve mileage by 1-4 mpg whether automatic or manual, to 27/35 mpg for the 1.6-liter and 26/34 mpg for the 2.0-liter.
Pricing for the Soul has increased because of the new engines and transmissions and we think the upgrades worth it. The base Soul uses the 1.6-liter engine with manual transmission; an automatic adds $1,800 because other equipment is included. The 1.6 is a viable alternative, offering the power of last year's 2.0-liter, but a Soul with the 2.0-liter manual is just $600 more than the base Soul automatic, and many buyers will find the slight mpg and cost penalties well worth it.
We found the Soul felt nimble and light, fun to drive. The lines are smooth and stylish, for a box, and the interior is notably clean and functional. Standard equipment includes six airbags, ABS, and electronic stability control to help keep you safe. The Sport model has been dropped for 2012 but this leaves no hole in the lineup.
The 2012 Kia Soul comes in three models: Soul, Soul+ (pronounced Soul plus), and Soul! (Soul exclaim).
The Soul ($13,900) uses a 138-horsepower 1.6-liter engine and comes with air conditioning, power windows and door locks, 15-inch steel wheels, black trim, body-color door handles and mirrors, AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 stereo, USB and auxiliary inputs, Bluetooth with steering-wheel controls, 6-way manual drivers seat, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, 60/40 split folding rear seat, remote keyless entry, and variable intermittent wipers. The base Soul comes with a 6-speed manual transmission, but it's available with a 6-speed automatic ($15,700).
Options include alloy wheels and an ECO package that includes idle-stop-and-go start-stop system, power mirrors, alloy wheels, luggage under-floor tray, illuminated visor mirrors with extensions, and low rolling resistance tires. Accessories include illuminated sill plates, cabin lighting, auto-dimming mirror, floor mats, cargo net and rear spoiler.
The Soul+ ($16,300) uses the 2.0-liter engine and adds 16-inch alloy wheels, stereo tweeters, leather-wrapped steering wheel, Soul logo inserts on upholstery, and metal-finish trim. The 6-speed manual is standard, but it's available with the 6-speed automatic ($17,300). Options available only on automatic versions include a moonroof and fog lights ($800), 350-watt Infinity/UVO by Microsoft entertainment system with rear camera and HD radio, and an ECO package (start-stop ISG system, special tires).
The Soul! ($19,600) is 2-liter and 6-speed automatic only, and adds 18-inch alloy wheels, body-color trim, LED running lights, projector headlights, sand and black interior with houndstooth upholstery inserts, standard UVO, and so on. The primary option is a premium package ($2,500) with navigation, XM traffic, leather seat trim, heated front seats, climate control, and push-button start/Smart Key.
Safety equipment on all models includes six airbags, active front headrests, LATCH seating system, electronic stability control, antilock brakes, and a tire pressure monitor.