Apparently, funky is going mainstream in the auto industry.
What began as a unique phenomena over at a little startup division of Toyota has now spread across other Asian automaker model lines. Nissan challenged the squared Scion with a Cube and now Kia has put their heart and “Soul” into the mix.
(Sorry, had to work the pun in somewhere.)
The new Kia Soul began to capture attention with its amusing commercials on TV of the hamsters riding around town with the stereo jamming the latest tunes. That message sort of carries over to the production models. During my week behind the wheel I felt like I had a couple of hamsters running on their wheel under the hood of the vehicle while I was cranking up the stereo to see the lights in the speakers glow to the beat of the music, and the more bass, the more glow. Sweet, I have been waiting for this feature in a car since the early 1980s when all we had were a few LEDs on the face of a Tancredi power booster hanging under the dash.
Kia’s tagline for the new Soul is “A new way to roll,” and while an urban passenger vehicle is not totally new to the marketplace, Kia says Soul is the first of a line of next-generation vehicles coming from them.
“Soul offers the perfect combination of style, value and personalized options,” said Michael Sprague, vice president of marketing, KMA. “It defies categorization and has a long list of features and available accessories that really speaks to today’s consumer.”
The Soul is built on an all-new platform for the automaker and features a low, wide stance paired with an angled window line, rounded nose and large flared back headlamps, apparently designed to present a “friendly face with exuberant personality.”
Soul is a five-seater with ample head- and legroom. Entry and exit requires minimal effort as do the other vehicles in this segment. This is a vehicle perfect for folks with knee and hip problems, if they can warm up to the fresh styling.
The vehicle rides well around town and is offered with two engine options and four trim levels. A base 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine produces an acceptable 122hp by many will opt for the 2.0-liter I-4 upgrade with power output boosted to 142 ponies. The 1.6 is only offered with a five-speed manual gearbox while the 2.0 is available with either five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. The smaller engine is rated at 26/31 mpg while the larger is set to deliver 24 city and 30 highway with either transmission.
A full host of safety equipment is standard including active front seat headrests, front, side impact and full-length side curtain airbags, ABS brakes with electronic stability control, traction control and tire pressure monitoring system.
Inside the Soul is a pleasant, modern environment that is not quite as polarizing as say the Scion but does feature all the latest comfort and convenience offerings including that cool adjustable lighting system that works harmoniously with the audio system.
I enjoyed my time in the Soul. It is no sports car and does not pretend to be one. This is a solid vehicle for the new urban commuter, young or old.
Pricing for the 2010 Kia Soul begins at a competitive $13,300 and tops out at $18,600 for a loaded sport model with all the trimmings. And all Soul models feature Kia’s 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.