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The Kia Soul: A Lot of Spirit in a Small Package

Updated on February 16, 2011
2011 Kia Soul
2011 Kia Soul

I have never been one to buy expensive cars, and in today’s economic climate, a brand new twenty thousand dollar plus car is even less practical for me. I don’t make that much money as a freelancer, and my other career…let’s just say it is not a field known for making people rich! So, economical cars with high safety ratings are very much my speed. Last week, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and trade my little compact car in for something new. I have two kids and several dogs, so what I was driving just didn’t have enough space. After doing a ton of research and quite a few test drives, I settled on a boxy, crossover vehicle, the Kia Soul. After having it a week, I am still thrilled with my choice. Here’s why.


Ø      First, with its distinctive shape, the Kia Soul just looks cool! The vehicle is a hatchback wagon with a box shape, similar to the Scion xB and less, well, cube-like than the Nissan Cube. I love the smooth lines, unique contour, and overall design. The base model comes with a limited number of color options, which is usually a deal killer for me. I refuse to pay the price of a new car for something that has no personality. Well, the Kia Soul has personality even if the base doesn’t come in Killer Red! The bright silver of the model I chose pairs well with the black trim and looks flashy even if it isn’t an upgraded color.

Ø      Second, the base model Soul has more bang for the buck. It was the only base model I found with air conditioning, power windows and locks, electronic stabilization, antilock brakes, and a cd player to boot. It even has Sirius satellite radio, which may hook me before my 3 months free subscription runs out. With most economical cars, the base models had no air-conditioning, which is just prohibitive in my area. I live in Florida, and I don’t see how buying a new car without air conditioning is practical for anyone, unless they are moving north immediately after the purchase.

Ø      On the inside, there are a few little plusses that I just like. I love the dual level glove box. It is a much more convenient place to store items like a spare umbrella, in addition to the normal paperwork and owner’s manual. The back seats are 60/40 folding seats, so even though the storage area isn’t spectacular with the seats up, fold them down and I could get surf boards inside. The steering wheel has a tilt column, which I love, and my kids love the drink holders in the doors.

Ø      The Soul comes equipped with iPod and USB ports, another nice option on a base car. I can hook my iPod up and the tunes come flowing out the stereo speakers. The speakers are remarkably good for a car in this class, and my sons are pleased with the ones in the back doors. I look back and even the toddler is jamming in his car seat.

Ø      Driving the Kia Soul is a blast. Although most models all have an automatic option, the base Soul only comes in manual. I wanted base, so manual was the only way to go. Now, I have a confession to make--I needed a refresher course in driving a manual shift. I had been ten years since I owned, and drove, a stick shift, and I was a slightly uncomfortable at first. But after a little practice, I felt like I could win the Daytona 500! Kidding aside, this little car has some zip—on a level I would not expect for a little compact engine. It may not be a performance car, but it sure is fun to drive! Even says that the Soul “is the most sprightly small car the Korean automaker has produced.”

Ø      Fuel economy wise, I have been pleased. There is a neat little gadget that shows the average miles per gallon achieved. I am usually getting around 32 miles per gallon, and that is with a substantial amount of city, stop-and-go travel. Interestingly, this is better than the projected 26/31 miles I had expected. Compared to most similar cars, the Soul leads the pack.

Ø      The Soul has been named a Top Safety Pick by the insurance industry, which is important to me as a parent. Especially since this may well be the first car my teenager drives (Heaven help us all!) The base model comes with a number of high rated safety features as standard. These include: electronic stabilization, antilock brakes, front airbags, and side curtain airbags. As a result, the cost of my monthly insurance policy took a nose-dive, so much that my monthly car payment and insurance payment combination is actually $30 lower than what I was paying with my previous car!


Overall, I love my little Soul. Does the interior look less polished or expensive than a luxury vehicle? Sure. But, I am not paying for a luxury vehicle, either! In its class, the Kia Soul gives me the most for my money.

2011 Kia Soul


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    • Eve Foss profile image

      Eve Foss 6 years ago from Florida

      Thanks for the comment! I did a bit of double checking and found that the recall was only for certain models of the 2010 Soul. Some of them had wiring harnesses in the advanced speaker lighting that was a fire hazard. Thankfully, the issue was resolved before my little Soul rolled off the manufacturer's floor!

    • Pagelift profile image

      Pagelift 6 years ago

      Thanks for the useful review! My ex had a Kia soul, I liked it. The lights on the side were cool too, but they're a fire hazard! You should look into it, Kia made a recall on the lighting mechanism, they can catch fire. Did you get yours replaced already?