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2010 Kia Soul
The Kia Soul is a new vehicle invented by its young designer, catering to the wants and needs of his fellow Gen Y types. It might be said that the Soul is an extension of the boxy little 2006 Scion xB, because the redesigned '07 xB drove off that track, and the Soul aims to steal that market as well as find its own.
Kia is heavily pitching personalization, offering many accessories and ways to attach your identity to your Soul. Everything from sideview mirrors in accenting colors, to seats that glow in the dark. Their goal with the Soul is to stand out in a sea of sameness.
The base model uses a 1.6-liter engine with a five-speed manual transmission for $13,300, but far more buyers will opt for the 2.0-liter with an optional four-speed automatic for $15,900, getting 27 combined miles per gallon.
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 keep you safe. There's a sport (lower case S) model, but it's mostly just trim, with slightly firmer suspension. You'll have to look to the aftermarket for a hot Soul.
The window sticker of our test model showed a new category: Environmental Performance. The Soul earned an 8 out of 10 for its Global Warming score, and 5 for its Smog score.
There are four Kia Souls: the base, the +, the !, and the sport. No, those aren't typos.
The Soul ($13,300) uses a 1.6-liter engine making 122 horsepower, five-speed manual transmission, and comes with rugged cloth seats, power windows and door locks, 60/40 rear seat, solar glass, rear wiper/washer, and an AM/FM/CD/MP3/SAT sound system with USB port and auxiliary input jack. It has steel 15-inch wheels with wheel covers, front disc brakes, rear drum brakes.
The Soul+ ($14,950) upgrades to the 2.0-liter engine making 142 horsepower, 16-inch alloy wheels, rear disc brakes, cruise control, remote entry, Bluetooth, steering wheel controls, and tinted rear windows. A four-speed automatic transmission is optional ($950). Options are a power moonroof and foglights ($800) and an audio package with five tweeter speakers, subwoofer and external amplifier ($400).
The Soul! ($16,950) comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, the premium audio package, power moonroof, and premium houndstooth accented cloth upholstery, with a leather steering wheel and shift knob, and metal-finish interior trim.
The Soul sport ($16,950) replaces the power moonroof with black front and rear fascias and side sills, a spoiler, black-and-red cloth seats and trim, metal pedals, and a sport-tuned suspension. The Sport uses the five-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic ($950).
Safety equipment includes six airbags, active front headrests, LATCH seating system, ABS, electronic stability control, and a tire pressure monitor.