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.