The Kia Soul is an inexpensive runabout with youthful styling, good fuel economy and utilitarian design and features. The goal with Soul is to stand out in a sea of sameness. In spite of its shape, the Kia Soul is a car. It is not an SUV. The mechanical design of the Soul is similar to that of a small sedan. All models are front-wheel drive; no all-wheel drive is offered.
2013 Kia Soul models are distinguished from last year's models by new color and trim choices and some minor content changes. The Kia Soul debuted as a 2010 model. 2012 models brought new engines and freshened styling.
Two engines are offered. A 1.6-liter four-cylinder comes standard, rated 138 horsepower and available with a choice of 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 25/30 mpg City/Highway for either transmission, so the choice should come down to how much you enjoy stirring gears. However, cruise control and a multi-adjustable driver's seat only come on the automatics.
A 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 164 horsepower comes with Soul+ and Soul! models. It's available with the 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic, but this time the manual enjoys a slight fuel economy advantage, at 24/29 mpg vs. 23/28 mpg for the automatic. That's unless you order the Eco package, which uses low-rolling-resistance tires and an extended-idle shut-off (called Idle Stop and Go, or ISG) to bump the automatic's EPA ratings back up equal to the manual's.
We think the standard 1.6-liter engine is a viable choice, offering plenty of power and the best fuel economy. The upgrade 2.0-liter engine delivers a bit more power, however, particularly important for the automatic, costs just slightly more and nearly matches the smaller engine in fuel economy.
Overall, we found the Soul felt nimble and light, fun to drive. It rides like the other economy cars in its class. And it's cute, with smooth and stylish lines, for a box, that is, and the interior is notably clean and functional.
Standard equipment includes six airbags, ABS, and electronic stability control to help keep you safe. Kia offers accessories to personalize your Soul and establish your own identity. How many car makers can offer that?
The 2013 Kia Soul comes in three models: Soul, Soul+ (pronounced Soul plus), and Soul! (Soul exclaim).
Kia Soul ($14,400) comes standard with air conditioning, power windows and door locks, black exterior trim, AM/FM/SiriusXM/CD/MP3 stereo, USB and auxiliary inputs, tilt/telescoping steering wheel with Bluetooth and audio controls, 60/40 split folding rear seat, variable intermittent wipers, 15-inch alloy wheels. Soul comes standard with the 1.6-liter engine. Opting for Soul with 6-speed automatic ($16,200) adds cruise control, rear privacy glass, power mirrors, remote keyless entry and a six-way adjustable driver's seat. Factory options for the base Soul are limited to 16-inch alloy wheels ($400), and those are available only with the automatic transmission. Port-installed accessories include illuminated sill plates ($250), cabin lighting ($450), auto-dimming mirror with compass ($275),carpeted floor mats ($115), cargo net ($50) and a rear spoiler ($325), among other items to enhance both style and convenience.
Soul+ ($16,700) uses the 2.0-liter engine and adds 16-inch alloy wheels, stereo tweeters, leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, Soul logo inserts on upholstery, power heated mirrors with turn-signal indicators, privacy glass, and metal-finish interior trim. The 6-speed manual is standard, but Soul+ is also available with the 6-speed automatic ($17,700). Standard equipment is the same for the manual and automatic, but only the automatic offers an optional moonroof with fog lights ($800), and a 350-watt Infinity/UVO by Microsoft entertainment system with rear camera and HD radio ($900). Offered only on Soul+ automatic without the previous two packages is the ECO package ($500) that combines Idle-Stop-and-Go with low-rolling resistance tires to boost both city and highway fuel economy estimates by 1 mpg.
Soul! ($19,900) comes with the 2.0-liter and 6-speed automatic only, and upgrades to sand and black interior with houndstooth upholstery inserts, power folding outside mirrors, sunroof, fog lights, body-color trim, LED taillights and front running lights, automatic projector headlights, Infinity/UVO audio, 18-inch alloy wheels. The primary option is a premium package ($2,500) with navigation, rear camera, SiriusXM 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 the mandated tire pressure monitor.