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Automotive Addicts had the chance to test drive the new 2010 Kia Soul+. After an extensive drive and rigorous analysis of the “Korean Scion”, as we like to call it, we walked away very pleased in several aspects of this new-generation-x automobile.
When Kia first hit the shores of the US over 15 years ago, everyone had a serious gag reflex when confronted with this new make. We had never seen such a vehicle that was in need of some serious back-to-the-drawing-board design improvements. There was great doubt in almost every American’s mind if Kia Motors would be here long. Well, over the past 15 years they have shown America that when you attack a specific market and obtain some noteworthy credibility, you can always improve, in such a length of time. The new Kia Soul is physical proof that they have reached a credible status in such a critical time in history with the current economic down-turn.
Not only does the Kia Soul add to the market of affordable vehicles, it’s backed by a “caring warranty”, and it brings some lively steps to the youth market. Although these steps are not exactly lively by means of performance, it is perfect in the terms of affordability for the young American. Toyota’s Scion division offers the Scion xB and while you would naturally compare the Kia Soul to such a vehicle, since they share many characteristics, they come from two totally separate origins.
Kia has offered a new SOUL and stepped into the youth and affordability market with some firm steps. The new 2010 Kia Soul+ gets good marks from us with only a few minor faults that we want to highlight.
The 5-passenger Soul is very stylish and offers quite a lot with the price starting at $13,995 (or the “plus” (+) edition starting at $15,900). Our test vehicle came in at $17,890. To justify the price on our test vehicle, the options list included an external amplifier, subwoofer and center speaker, also known as the upgraded audio package. This particular audio option comes with Satellite radio and colored LED speaker lights inside of the front door speaker housing. In addition to the “flashy” audio system, a power sunroof and fog lights were added to the list.
The Soul is rated at 30 to 31 miles per gallon on the highway which makes this a great gas miser whether you’re solo or out on the town with 4 of your friends. The base Soul gets an 122 horsepower 115 lb-ft of torque 1.6-liter inline 4-cyl engine. Our Kia Soul+ test vehicle receives a stronger 142 horsepower 137 lb-ft of torque 2.0-liter inline 4-cyl engine. When compared to other small vehicles such as the Honda Fit, The Soul+ offers a bit more power but suffers in the fuel economy area. Although 24 mpg in the city for the Soul+ is not a bad figure, others can save you a bit more when facing heavy traffic conditions.
Driving the Kia Soul+ made me really feel like the hamsters in the commercial until you hit second gear. That’s when the music hits the slow tempo. Although the Kia Soul+ is rated at 142hp, it seems you get all of it in 1st gear while the tall 2nd gear does not give you much of a smooth transition of power to work with from the 4 speed automatic transmission. For the Kia Soul+ being a small vehicle, the drivability is great. With electric stability control keeping all 4 P205/55R 16inch tires planted to the surface you get a since of security when traveling at highway speeds. With the front stabilizer bars, torsion beam rear suspension, standard ABS and ESC, this hamster wheel was never uncontrollable or unpredictable. I am sure with the optional 18 inch wheels you could have “the look” with even more stability.
With ample room for 5 youthful humans, a 6 foot 4 inch adult is unfortunately feeling a bit cramped in the driver’s seat. For the targeted market of the younger crowd, a Kia Soul should provide plenty of room. The rear seats are rather comfy without other passengers to share the rear split folding backs. Cargo room for the Kia Soul topping out at 53.4 cubic feet with the seats folded down is a bit on the small side when compared to the Scion xB (69.9 cubic feet) and even the Nissan Cube (58.1 cubic feet). Customers who may be concerned with cargo space may want to allow some additional time for car shopping.
I have to honestly say, I almost felt like I was driving a Lamborghini from the onlookers while driving the Kia Soul+ through a prestigious area of Jacksonville, FL. Unfortunately after pressing the gas pedal once I immediately came to my senses. If you are a customer looking to buy this new boxy car, then performance is probably not on the top of your “needs” list.
Price: MSRP $15,900
Type: Compact Wagon
Where Built: South Korea
EPA Class: Small Station Wagons
Length: 161.6 in.
Width: 70.3 in.
Height: 63.4 in.
Wheel Base: 100.4 in.
Ground Clearance: 6.5 in.
Curb Weight: 2820 lbs.
Front Head Room: 40.2 in.
Front Hip Room: 53.3 in.
Front Shoulder Room: 55.2 in.
Rear Head Room: 39.6 in.
Rear Shoulder Room: 55.1 in.
Rear Hip Room: 52.7 in.
Front Leg Room: 42.1 in.
Rear Leg Room: 39 in.
Luggage Capacity: 19.3 cu. ft.
Maximum Cargo Capacity: 53 cu. ft.
Maximum Seating: 5
Base Number of Cylinders: 4
Base Engine Size: 2 liters
Base Engine Type: Inline 4
Horsepower: 142 hp
Max Horsepower: 6000 rpm
Torque: 137 ft-lbs.
Max Torque: 4600 rpm
Drive Type: FWD
Turning Circle: 34.4 ft.
Fuel Tank Capacity: 12.7 gal.
EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway/Combined)
Automatic: 24 mpg / 30 mpg / 26 mpg
Range in Miles:
Automatic: 304.8 mi. / 381 mi. / 330.2 mi.
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