Even if you don’t consider yourself a car person, it’s impossible to miss the 2013 Kia Soul. First of all, it’s the car in all the commercials with the dancing hamsters and the LMFAO song. Like it or not, you still remember that ad and that tune.
As befits a car that transmits its presence so loudly, the Kia Soul isn’t for shrinking violets — this boxy, modern-looking urban crossover will turn heads. It’s, in a word, cute, but don’t let that adorable profile fool you. The Kia Soul is brimming with a long list of features, solid city driving performance, comfortable interior appointments, strong safety equipment, and good city mileage. Also, while the Kia Soul may be marketed toward the — ahem — younger buyer, its mix of frugality, practicality, and good looks will appeal to anyone who wants a reliable, versatile automobile that’s at home on city streets or interstate stretches. What are you waiting for? Pack in your family, your pets, your supplies, your groceries — the Kia Soul can carry any of them without taxing your patience or your wallet.
If you like the Kia Soul’s exterior, there’s plenty to appreciate inside too. Keep in mind, this is an economy car — don’t expect rich Corinthian leather across the dash. But you can look forward to big, distinctive gauges; a huge glove box; plenty of headroom and legroom; comfortable seats; and cup holders in both the center armrest and on each door. Two passengers can sit in front, while the back can accommodate three, albeit possibly snugly. You can opt for dual front seat warmers. With a flick of a button, you can put down the rear seats for more cargo space or take advantage of the underfloor storage for extra room.
The Kia Soul is as electronically minded as it is economically minded. As standard, the Soul comes loaded with hands-free Bluetooth connectivity, iPod/USB integration, satellite radio, several power jacks, and air conditioning. In any other car, these features would quickly jack up the price tag, but they’re all included on the Soul, which practically screams convenience.
In case you think this is all window dressing, rest assured the Kia Soul values the safety of your and your passengers. Antilock brakes, stability control, and a full complement of airbags (six in all) are included. There is no rating yet in the US, but the Kia Soul aced Euro NCAP crash tests. The Soul scored five stars on the NCAP frontal offset, side impact and pole crash tests.
You can also opt for a rear-view video camera system for a clear look at your surroundings when you are backing up, and watch on the moniter on your dash, though the large windows offer great overall visibility.
Fire up the Soul and you’ll be rewarded with a steady, zippy ride. The Soul handles more like a lower hatchback than a tall SUV — so take those U-turns and corners with confidence. The Soul is no sports car, and you may feel a bump or two on rockier roads. The Soul likely won’t win any races, but it’s at home on long trips or short errands, especially if you make use of the Bluetooth, satellite radio, or iPod connectivity to keep yourself entertained.
In fact, drive as much as you want. The Kia Soul’s gas mileage rates 27/35 mpg — right up there with most compacts. To sweeten the deal, the Soul now comes with the Idle Stop & Go (ISG) technology, which automatically cuts off the engine when it’s idling for no reason, such as at a stoplight. The motor starts up again when your foot leaves the brake.
Sure, no one expects to drive a car hawked by giant hamsters, but no one expected Korean automakers to gain so much ground in so little time against the big-name competition. The Kia Soul delivers on that surprise, not only through its advertising campaign, but with its actual features and performance. This fresh take on a small SUV/tall hatchback/boxy sedan/what have you is certainly eye catching, but it also promises a long list of standard features, solid handling, enviable mileage, beefy safety measures, lots of interior room, and an emphasis on the electronics that seem to dominate all our lives these days. If you hadn’t considered the Kia Soul before, now is the time. This youthful-looking auto is wise beyond its years.
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Written by Jane Emery