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OF MICE AND MEN
2012 Kia Soul !

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Thu, May 24, 2012

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

1-2012_Kia_Soul_front
2012 Kia Soul !

The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry, but not when it comes from the people responsible for the Kia Soul and those cute rodents on the Soul commercials. Both the car and the commercials with the mice (hamsters, chipmunks, whatever) have been a big hit. For the review, we commissioned former Disneyland chipmunk and current editor-at-large Doug Stokes to drive all week in Kia’s Soul kitchen. By Doug Stokes I am not a chipmunk, although I did play one at Disneyland many years ago. It was hot work for a summer job, but it paid well. Back then, we were all rounded up at sundown and led back to our underground lair, the “characters”, as we were called, were not allowed out in the park after dark. That, of course gave us the opportunity to walk about in our civvies and just hang out. But I digress. This is supposed to be a car review. A review drive of the Kia Soul, as Disneylike a car as they come from the outside, but a great little performer from within.

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Kia Soul ! (Doug Stokes)

First, the looks. Yes, this one is supposed to look that way. Klugey, squared-off, just a tiny bit off-kilter, obvious, happy, the Soul looks sort of like a giant straightened-out version of the cat in the hat’s chapeau. There is whimsy to spare in the vision, particularly with this little guy as it was coated in a gaudy, (way) over the top, in-yer-eye red that Kia calls “molten”, and standing tall in a set of 18-inch(!) tires wrapped around a set of custom wheels that shouted “Circus Wagon!” at the tops of their little alloy lungs. There was no mistaking, or loosing this one in a mall parking lot, let’s just say the Soul car “stood out”. And of course, that’s not such a bad thing, it is just that constantly! talking! with! exclamation marks! sometimes dulls the other senses and those were really the best thing about this machine. First thing is the fun and frisky acceleration. Variable valve timing (in this case noted as CVCT, for “Continuously Variable Cam Timing”) is a wonderful thing, and becoming available further and further downmarket, as evidenced here in mini-SUV form going for $22,950. This 2-liter engine (backed up by a close-ratio 6-speed automatic transmission) is flat out fast folks! I was better than surprised by the sort of strong lane change and outstanding overtaking power that this little guy had.

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The Monroney (window sticker) we were handed with the keys for this one for some reason did not give horsepower nor torque numbers for this engine, so I’m really going to guess here: 158 (no make that 159) horsepower and 137 pound-feet of torque. I will now look the real figures up. Excuse me for a second. Okay, I was close: 164/143. That’s really good for a 2-liter street engine with a 100,000-mile/10-year warranty. This is a truly a stalwart mill: I never felt out-gunned anywhere, anytime. Hey, one more thing about this one: The sound. Not THE reason to buy this one, but it really makes some great sounds when one gets with the program, and you’re the one who’s going to be driving it. So why not sound sporty? Let me ask you a question: When was the last time that you changed a flat tire? Take your time. If you’re an average driver, your answer goes something like: “Wait, wait, I remember, I was … no, the kids were … no, it was New Year’s 19…er… let me think.” I say that so you won’t be mortified when you find out that this Soul has no spare tire. No “spacemaker” spare. No spare tire whatsoever.

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What it does have is an inflation system that should allow a reasonable limp back to a repair station, but NOT (as we see many dolts doing) allow the owner to just slap a 550-15 compact spare on the hub and to drive as though there were four standard-size tires aboard. We’ve all seen them driving along a 70+ miles per hour on one of those tiny temp tires. That (really) dumb move is obviated by the Soul’s disuse of any sort of demountable spare tire. Porsche did it in their front-engine cars years ago, and no one (except the bean-counters) ever even noticed. Can you say, “Hello, Auto Club?” Our $22,950.00 model simply had it all: a nice power tilt and slide sunroof, nav system, rear back-up camera (which works even when the rear hatch is staring at the sky), Bluetooth, auto-dim mirror, remote keyless entry, auto-on headlights, Sirius satellite radio and a three-month subscription to set the hook deep. All of the above (and much more) is included in the first number on the sheet: $19,600. Our dee-lux example had a augmented Nav and Sirius traffic system, push-button start, leather seat trim, heated front seats, a cargo net, and a rear bumper appliqué. This package, along with a $750 “inland freight and handling” charge gives us the above-mentioned $22,950 number. The Feds rate the Kia Soul at 26/34. I would not be surprised if that’s exactly what one will see with this machine. Nice packaging, good accommodations for four people, clean handling, good ride, outstanding pep when asked, and styling that says: “I’m pretty darn comfortable with myself, and I’ve chosen a vehicle that I like, and that likes me.” One could go far further wrong.

1-2012_Kia_Soul_dash_Doug_Stokes
Kia Soul ! (Doug Stokes)

For more information about Kia products, go to www.kiausa.com SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: Kia Soul ! Price: $13,900 (base model) $16,300 (+ model) $19,600 (! base) $22,950 (as tested) EPA fuel economy rating (city/highway): 26/34 miles per gallon Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC CVVT four-cylinder engine

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Horsepower: 164 @ 6500 rpm Torque: 148 @ 4800 rpm Transmission: 6-speed automatic with Active Eco System Drive configuration: Front-wheel drive Steering: Power-assisted rack and pinion Suspension: MacPherson strut front independent suspension with stabilizer bar Torsion beam rear suspension with stabilizer bar Wheels and tires: 18 x 7.5 inch alloy wheels and 235/45R18 all-season tires Tire repair kit Dimensions Width: 70.3 inches Length: 162.2 inches Height: 63.4 inches Curb weight: 2778 pounds

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