The 2013 Kia Soul proves that you really can get a lot for a little. It offers two praise-worthy engines that blow the competing Cube and XB away. The base model gets a 1.6-liter four-cylinder paired to a six-speed manual transmission to offer 138 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque. It may be a little poky, but those on a tight budget will appreciate that fuel economy is at 25 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. Higher trims are equipped with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that offers a lively 164 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. This may not seem like much, but this lightweight car sprints to 60 mph in 8.8 seconds, which is definitely a strong time. Equipped with the manual transmission it yields 24 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. The automatic transmission decreases these numbers by 1 mpg. Soul is fun to drive. It is not super agile like other competitors, but it does remain composed, even on the highway. That being said, if you do a lot of highway driving, you might feel more confident constantly merging with the bigger engine.
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• Audio - Although the base audio system only has four speakers, it does include a CD player, audio jack, iPod interface, and satellite radio. Still, it is hard to pass up the Audio Upgrade package that gives you an Infinity sound system with eight speakers, HD radio, tricolor speaker lights, and the Uvo media player interface.
• Navigation - The available navigation system in the Premium package includes a touchscreen interface and real-time traffic.
• Bluetooth - This handy telecommunications system comes standard on all three trims. It allows you to answer, send, and end calls without taking your eyes off the road.
Despite its low price, Kia did not skimp on safety. Soul receives top safety scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in roof, front, and side-impact crash tests. Braking ability is equally as impressive, stopping from 60 mph in a short 120 feet. Hill-start Assist is now standard across the lineup. Additional safety features include:
• Rearview camera
• Antilock brakes
• Emergency braking assist
• Tire pressure monitoring
• Rear door safety locks
• Traction control
• Dusk sensing headlamps
• Turn signal mirrors
• Electronic brakeforce distribution
• Stability control
• Child seat anchors
• Front seatbelt pretensioners
• Whiplash protection in head restraints
You really cannot help but be smitten with the funky exterior of this wagon. It is modern, fresh, and cool without coming across obnoxious like some over-the-top competitors. This four-door hatchback gives you low-profile 15-inch steel wheels standard with attractive 16-inch alloy ones optional. Top-of-the-line models get 18-inch alloy wheels, power-folding outside mirrors, fog lamps, upgraded headlamps, and a sunroof, and it really does not cost that much more.
There is a whole lot to love about the interior of this ride. It is modern and attractive yet comfortable and functional. Surprisingly high quality materials are used throughout to make Soul look far more expensive than it is. This is especially true if you get the -!- model with the two-tone houndstooth upholstery. The Uvo infotainment system is easy to use, gauges are simple to read, and controls seem to be at your fingertips. If all this is not enough to get you excited, the leg and headroom will. Both rows offer more room than most will ever need. It even has a generous amount of acoustic insulation to ensure a quiet ride.
There is no shortage of cargo space here. Behind the rear seat, Soul gives you 19 cubic feet. If you fold the rear seat down, you get an impressive 53 cubes.