Published on Mon, Mar 8, 2010
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By Roy Nakano Not too long ago, a consumer on a tight budget had two choices when it came to inexpensive cars: A plain vanilla subcompact, or going used. Recently, a third choice has arisen: The box car. Most of the Asian-based car companies offer them, and they provide a level of character not found in the subcompacts. Kia goes one better, and introduces a box car bursting with flavor in the form of the 2010 Soul. The Kia Soul is like a bag of honey mustard pretzels next to a rack of regular potato chips. It’s like throwing a Starburst in your mouth, or opting for garlic over plain nan. Kia thinks there’s a market for an inexpensive car that is the antithesis of boredom, and I’m inclined to think they are on to something.
What gives the Soul character is not 300 horses and swoopy styling. On the contrary, the Kia Soul is an upright econo-box with lots of room and good gas mileage. If you’ve seen the ads, you probably know about the striking two-tone interiors with the loudspeakers that glow to the beat of the music. Even more impressive, however, is how Kia sweated the details on this car. Open the black glove box and you find the interior of the compartment fully finished in red. The same with the black ashtray/coin box – almost as if the interiors of these compartments are alive (as in, this car has a soul).
On the traditional measures of acceleration, handling, ride, and braking, the Kia Soul acquits itself very well. It’s no sports sedan, but neither is it the wallowy slugmobile that used to pass as the bargain basement vehicle. This car feels solid and well-screwed together. It all adds up to a great package for not a whole lot of money. The Kia Soul is not for everybody. Those who want to stay in stealth mode need not apply here. This is a car for people who want a fun ride. It’s a car with character for people with character.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT The car for those who want their rides to have lots of flavor. For more information about Kia products, go to kiausa.com
SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2010 Kia Soul Price Base: $13,300 Plus model: $16,195 As tested: $17,195 (with audio upgrade, power sunroof and carpeted floor mats) Horsepower: 142 @ 2000 rpm Torque: 137 pound-feet at 4600 rpm Drive configuration: Front-wheel drive Steering: Speed-sensitive power-assisted rack and pinion Suspension Front: Independent MacPherson struts, coil springs, gas-filled shock absorbers, and anti-roll bar Rear: Torsion beam, coil springs, and gas-filled shock absorbers Brakes: Four-wheel disc, power-assisted, with ABS Wheels and tires 205/55-16 all-season tires and 16-inch alloy wheels Dimensions Length: 161.6 inches Width: 70.3 inches Height: 63.4 inches Curb weight: 2820 pounds