Auto Review: Kia’s affordable Soul
By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., May. 30, 2013
When it comes to all the media we digest, advertising is a difficult thing to categorize. As a part of our daily lives, it has become so pervasive in society (and so much an expression of the world around us) that you could make the argument that it’s an art form. Automobile commercials are some of the most perplexing we encounter, because they are forever trying to get us interested in a product in what is usually a very short time, either 30 or 60 seconds. The Kia Soul ads are a great example of this, as they’ve been very successful at creating a feeling of fun with the vehicle by having it cruise around town occupied by very hip, laid-back rodents. Hey, I don’t know exactly what species they are, but I like them, and as weird as it seems, the ad’s whole concept of a fun, versatile vehicle seems to fit the Soul when you spend time with the vehicle. For 2013, the compact wagon is available in three trim levels: Soul, Soul+ and Soul!, and we tested the last model that’s the top-of-the-line version (also known as the Exclaim).
The front-drive Soul! rides on a 101.2-inch wheelbase and is powered by a 2-liter Direct Injection Inline Four with 164 horsepower. The Exclaim comes standard with a six-speed automatic transmission (a six-speed manual is available also on the other trim levels). Acceleration is lively, with 60 mph arriving in an average of 8.51 seconds, and shifting is pretty much on a par with the current crop of six-speed automatics out there; i.e. smooth and reasonably crisp. With the Soul’s compact dimensions and “wheel at every corner” architecture, handling is entertaining and stable, and the tight 34.8-foot turning radius makes this machine an excellent urban vehicle for maneuvering through traffic and squeezing into tight parking spots. Braking performance is also laudable, and my only complaint is the hand brake placement that is a bit far aft and can be awkward for shorter drivers to access.
The interior of the Soul is a study in good space utilization, for while there’s not as much room as some of its direct competition, it is still comfortable for four adults. The Exclaim trim level includes very good interior materials and workmanship, as well as carpeted floor mats and a state-of-the-art Infinity sound system (with speaker lights in multiple colors that pulse to the beat of the music or add mood lighting). While the seats are fairly flat and could use more lateral support, the optional Premium package includes leather seating surfaces that are stout and comfortable. The Soul’s cargo-hauling abilities add versatility, with 19.3 cubic feet of space with the rear seats in use and 53.4 with the seatbacks folded.
The Soul is a very practical vehicle, but as the commercials portray, it’s also a fun ride for you and your pack. The 2013 Kia Soul Exclaim is EPA rated 23 MPG city/28 highway and has a base price of $19,900. With options, our sticker came to $23,575. www.kia.com