By on October 24, 2011


“You know,” editor Ed told me, “that would be, about, like, a Take Four on the Soul, we’re not gonna do that.” I’d rented a 2011-vintage Kia Soul for a LeMons race in Houston and had been quite impressed. Although the powertrain (the traditional two-liter Hyundai/Kia four-banger and a lackluster four-speed auto) hadn’t been stellar, the rest of the car was just awfully useful and pleasant besides. Nevertheless, Ed wouldn’t let me review the thing. Oh well. If you want to know what we thought about the Soul, collectively speaking, (zing) you can read Ed’s 2010 Sport review and Frank Williams’ Take Two.

To ensure that I would have a chance to talk about this very interesting little car, however, Kia went through the trouble of thoroughly revising the Soul just a few months after my initial drive… and they were kind enough to have just one six-speed manual version available during the press introduction. I snagged said manual-transmission Soul with ferocity and am ready to convey all the details to you. For those of you too diffident to click the jump, here’s the sum-up: Great car, shot in the foot at its launch by a rather unfortunate decision on Kia’s part…

Although the Soul hasn’t been in production very long, its “reverse halo” position at Kia, along with its recent (and unexpected) domination of American subcompact sales charts, dictates that some of the weak points be shored up sooner rather than later. So welcome a new nose, tail, and revised dashboard. LED running lights and taillights make an appearance on the top-line “!” model, the new Microsoft UVO infotainment system is an option, and the lineup has been rationalized to eliminate the top-shelf “Sport” with its individual suspension tuning.

More importantly, the old 1.6 and 2.0 have been replaced by direct-injection, new-generation efforts. The 1.6 is the same engine as found in the Veloster, Accent, and Rio; the 2.0 is a 164-horsepower Elantra transplant. Fuel mileage has improved considerably; the two-liter automatic is now rated at 26/34 city/highway. Choosing the “eco” package with stop/start technology bumps that to 27/35. The base Soul comes with the 1.6 and a manual transmission at $13,900 plus destination or $15,700 for the automatic. The “+” trim adds the two-liter, some shiny stuff inside and out, and retails at $16,900 for the manual transmission. That’s the car I drove. The top-end “!” trim is an automatic only at $19,600. Leather is an option as well. It’s possible to spend well over twenty grand on a Soul, if you’re so inclined.

At seventeen grand or so, however, the six-speed “+” makes a solid argument for itself. The interior is high-quality, the metal trim is convincing, and the “SOUL”-logoed cloth seats look durable. Despite the Soul’s barn-door aerodynamic profile, it’s remarkably quiet inside and rides very well. It won’t fatigue or annoy you; Frank Williams’ suggestion that the Soul was meant for middle-aged men won’t get any contradiction from me. Both rows of seats continue to be spacious and comfy. The doors click shut with precision. If your last experience of a cheap Korean car was a 2001 Elantra or something like that, you will be amazed.

Unlike its Rio cousin, the Soul has a perfectly adequate sound system and the Bluetooth integration is very easy to use. I made a few calls and had no trouble understanding or being understood. Although temperatures at the Austin, TX press event were in the 98-104 degree range (F, not C!) the Soul had no trouble cooling the cabin. It has to help that there just isn’t that much glass in the car.

Dynamically, the Soul is a real pleasure. A few of my fellow journos complained that the aluminum-topped shifter was “long-throw”. Maybe in comparison to a Grand-Am BMW. Regardless, it’s swift and sure to operate. Clutch effort is about nil; the first few times I engaged the pedal I was afraid something was wrong with the car. Once underway, the direct-injected two-liter pulls along with authority. The ratios are wide, and sixth gear is tall enough to effectively prevent acceleration up even a mild hill, but let’s keep things in perspective here: this low-priced Korean box is still about as quick as Tom Selleck’s Ferrari 308GTSi. It won’t encourage any high-g antics, but surely that isn’t the point of these boxy subcompacts. The engine note is more cultured than thrashy, and it doesn’t sound terribly direct-injected. At idle, the Soul isn’t subjectively much louder than a Lexus ES.

For once in my life, I feel sorry for American Toyota dealers. Scion had this market pretty much sewn-up with the original xB, but the successor to that vehicle just isn’t compelling or focused enough to bring those buyers back. Instead, they are flocking to Souls at the rate of about ten thousand new owners per month. (Last month’s sales were down to about 7,000 units; Kia PR folks assured me that was due to reduced 2011-model inventory.) The Soul has true multi-generational appeal. Fifty-year-olds appreciate the high seats and quiet freeway ride. Twenty-five-year-olds like the features, the look, and the hamster marketing. Everybody likes the price.

What’s not to like? Well, there isn’t much real cargo space available. Four friends can roll in a Soul, but only two amigos will be able to travel in one. Parking is a bit more difficult than one might think; the rear corners aren’t easily discernible. I’d also have some concerns as to the durability and service needs of these first-effort direct-injection engines from the Hyundai/Kia group.

Do we have room left in this article to make an Eldridge Cleaver joke? Yes we do. This new Kia is so hot… that the dealers may be forced to keep their Souls on ice. (Oooooooh.) Unfortunately for said dealers, however, there’s one little bitty problem with the manual-transmission models. Many of the people who ordered 2012 Souls, or took early delivery from dealer stock, were under the impression that they were getting a car with cruise control. This was because Kia’s marketing materials seemed to indicate that the manual-transmission Souls, like their automatic-transmission counterparts, had cruise control as standard equipment. According to Kia owner forums, many Souls were delivered to the dealer, and from there to their new owners, with cruise control listed on the Monroney sticker. The official line from Kia is that there was a “last-minute” change. This owners’ forum thread details a lot of disappointment and anger on the part of early adopters — and Kia isn’t doing a lot to make things right.

It’s difficult to imagine Toyota or Honda making a mistake of this magnitude, but they’ve had a few decades’ more practice at controlling the specifications of imported vehicles, communicating with dealers, and resolving issues with the end users. This isn’t good news. As a former car salesman, I can attest that it’s not a promising sign when buyers feel they have to verify every feature on the window sticker. Though it affects a small percentage of Soul owners, it’s an issue that Kia needs to address pronto.

It’s also simply ridiculous that Kia doesn’t feel that it can or should include cruise control on a manual-transmission vehicle. The buyers want it, the technology has been available for a very long time, and the actual cost of such a feature on a modern direct-injection engine is almost zero. If you can live without cruise control, the manual-transmission Soul is an entertaining, useful vehicle. For those who can’t, perhaps the Scion xB isn’t such a ridiculous choice after all.

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91 Comments on “Review: 2012 Kia Soul+ (6-Speed Manual)...”


  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    The Kia Soulster, which rhymes with hamster – is definitely cleaning up the niche formally occupied by Scion and then some. I saw one with the rear seats folded down being loaded with garden supplies. Not too bad for a B-segment in my opinion.

    The optional 2.0 makes this B-segment re-bodied Rio a more interesting choice versus a Fiesta or a Fit. 148 ft / lbs of twist on a 2700 lb coupled to a 6-speed should be adequate to move two people and luggage down the road. I’d gladly downshift into 5th gear for the hills.

  • avatar
    Banger

    “If you can live without cruise control, the manual-transmission Soul is an entertaining, useful vehicle. For those who can’t, perhaps the Scion xB isn’t such a ridiculous choice after all.”

    Or perhaps the Nissan Cube warrants a look, too. Just sayin’. You can get a Cube S with manual transmission, and the cruise comes standard. But you’ll probably have to custom-order it because the take rate on manual transmissions is so low. Expect to pay $16-17k.

    We looked at a first-gen Soul last year and weren’t overly impressed as compared to the Cube. Admittedly, we didn’t drive the Soul. But the seating materials looked and felt cheaper, and though the interior dimensions listed online say otherwise, the rear seats *felt* less roomy in the Soul than in the Cube. We didn’t like the larger blind spots in the Soul, either. The Cube does have its blind spots, too, but not quite as bad as the slash-cut windows of the Soul.

    In the end, we went with our Cube and haven’t been happier with a vehicle we’ve owned. It’s the most useful small car we’ve ever had, it’s comfortable as all get-out, and it gets better fuel economy than the EPA sticker (honest to God) on the highway. We’re fans of the small boxy cars now, after initial trepidation when the Honda Element and later Scion xB came to the U.S. market. They are ultra space-efficient, which appeals to “function over form” nerds like me.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      I would need to have an operation on my foot w/o cruise control. And I would lose my license.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      I’d take the Cube over the Soul, too, except for one thing – price. Street-price, the Kia undercuts the Nissan by at least a grand (maybe two).

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve looked at the Cube, but can’t get over the weird even by its segment’s standards styling.

      • 0 avatar
        Toad

        When looking for a new car for my bride we had agreed on an urban commuter “box” shaped car. After looking around were ready to take delivery of a Soul; I liked everything about it but at the last moment my wife backed out…and shortly thereafter fell in love with the Cube.

        I hated the look of the Cube, and the oddness did not appeal to me at all, but it was her car and her decision. Fast forward one year and 90+% of our local driving is done with the Cube. It is huge inside and incredibly fuel efficient. Easy to park, drive, huge windows vs. the Soul, and the CVT is kind of cool (the 120k warranty also helps).

        To Jack’s point, I also warmed to the Nissan because they historically hold their value better. Very few used car buyers worry about Nissan reliability.

      • 0 avatar
        VanillaDude

        The Cube tries too hard and ends up looking just plain goofy. It’s styling is contrite and forced. Really embarrassing in an Aztek sort of way. Totally beta male. Like it is embarrassed to be a car or something.

    • 0 avatar
      Les

      I tried test-driving a Cube, and just everything about it screamed ‘Wrong’ at me. Those vertical A-pillers out in front and the windscreen so far forward are very distracting from the road and remind me I’m not on the road, I’m in a mobile stack of steel and glass that’s going down the road at a good clip.

      The soul also looks and feels like it has good ground-clearance, I feel like I could take on a bad road with a few pot-holes in it with confidence. The Cube feels like a big cardboard box on roller-skates.

  • avatar

    Is cruise control really that big of a deal?

    The amigos line made be semilol.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      It would be for me; I’m driving 40-45K a year on mostly unoccupied Midwestern freeways.

      • 0 avatar
        nikita

        I dont miss it in my Fit because you cant really use cruise control within 100+ miles of Los Angeles. While including it on the sticker and not the car is a really serious goof, B-segment are still considered city cars by the marketing folks.

      • 0 avatar
        kacutter

        OK…now I am freaked out….I am in the process of purchasing a new car…I am in NO WAY anything other than a novice…but have been trying to do my homework..I have test-ridden the Kia Forte SX hatchback, the Hyundai Touring, the Mazda3, etc..etc…
        I did drive the Soul+, and thought it was really fun..but for my new job, felt that it was a little too punky :-) So I then tried the hatchbacks…found the base models of the Kia and Hyundai to be somewhat cheap feeling…and the engines seemed unimpressive….but find the sport version to be fun and responsive. Are you familiar with the engine? I believe is a 2.4l…. do you know if this is a “new engine” line for Kia as well? I am nervous about getting a first generation of anything…can’t afford headaches down the line. Any thoughts?

        THANKS!!!!

      • 0 avatar
        Les

        I have Cruise Control on my Soul, but I got the one with the auto.

    • 0 avatar

      It is for me as well. I would be livid if it didn’t come with the cruise control I expected. I use it every day.

    • 0 avatar
      Philosophil

      I use cruise control all the time, so the manual would definitely be a no-go for me.

      I remember looking at the specs for the Canadian 2012 earlier this summer and was shocked to see no cruise control for the manual. I mentioned it to the local dealer and he couldn’t understand it either. Very strange.

    • 0 avatar

      I added an aftermarket unit on my ’05 xB manual; two hours of pretty easy work. And it works like a charm. I agree: can’t live without one.

    • 0 avatar
      confused1096

      Oh yeah. I put 60K miles a year on a company car. Cruise control is my ticket prevention device.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Nice review, nice car, thank goodness you can get the manual with the bigger engine, not just the lowest performance option.

    Jack do you know if this manual is related to the one in the Kia Optima and Hyundai Sonata? I haven’t seen anyone review a (manual trans) base model of those cars and I was wondering about the shift action on the base models.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      Same tech, lower displacement. 2.0 versus 2.4.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Anyone? Bueller… Bueller…

      • 0 avatar
        wagonsonly

        I test-drove a base Sonata with a manual right as the new ones were starting to come into dealer lots. I wasn’t impressed – long throws, imprecise gate, tacky faux leather around the shifter, and an artificially light clutch. I was much more impressed with the automatic. (This was when I was trying to dump my lemony ’09 Elantra Touring; I had no intention of buying another Hyundai, and still don’t, but I’m always game for a test drive.)

  • avatar
    geozinger

    H/K is on a roll. This is one of the few cars I would consider as a replacement for my current daily driver. I was thinking about a Chevy HHR, but this little box seems to have a lot more on the ball.

    Peter Schreyer’s cohesive exterior design really speaks to me more than the other competitors in this segment. It’s too bad they can’t get their signals straight about the cruise control, but I’d still consider one of these, even without cruise. Like other posters noted, it’s nice to be able to get the manny tranny without the penalty motor.

  • avatar
    ppxhbqt

    The 2.0L doesn’t sound direct injected because it’s not. Only the 1.6 L is.

    Also, to clarify, the 2.0L is of the Nu family, like the Elantra’s engine, but the Elantra’s is only 1.8L, so it’s not exactly the same engine.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    What? No V. McB. references in a Baruthian review? No paragraph about how many fenders strats can fit in it with the rear seat folded down? No angry rant stories from boyfriends or ex-husbands of women whom you have debauched?

    Who are you and what have you done with Jack Baruth?

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I’m double-dating in Nashville tomorrow night: V McB will be joined by Drama McHourglass for the TTAC meetup. And in November, I’m taking V McB and Melisa Mae (subject of a previous story) to Vegas to meet some random exotic cars and/or strippers.

      I guarantee you that no new standards of personal morality or responsibility are in effect. Regular service will resume. Women will be topless. Double-yellows will be disregarded. Spouses will be disrespected.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Hyundai/Kia has trouble combining stick shift with cruise across the board. My other choice was Elantra Touring, which also can’t be had with cruise and a clutch.

    Can you please report engine speed in top gear? My biggest issue with my ’05 xB is that 80mph requires 4000rpm, and that is *really* annoying on a long trip. If it wasn’t for that simple fact, I would keep the xB forever.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I no longer have access to the car but it wasn’t close to 4000rpm at 80mph. Maybe 3200 or so.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        That sounds right to me. At 80, and my Forte doesn’t see that often – not interested in more speeding tickets, my car is running right around 3k. At 70 it’s closer to 2500-2750. I’m not sure if the 2.0 litre in this car is related to the 2.0 litre in mine.

    • 0 avatar
      darex

      My Hyundai Veloster has both stick and cruise control, but it is missing the heated seats that the Canadian models have.

      I suspect I know why. We have Bluelink; they don’t. Given my druthers, I’d have told them, keep your [probably expensive] Bluelink, and give me power-folding mirrors, tilting seat bottoms and heated seats.

      I rarely get the opportunity to engage cruise control, so I have to say, I wouldn’t be too sad if it had been missing, but it’s nice to have it on-tap, I suppose.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I like the looks of the Soul, but I don’t think I’d buy one, because with so many being sold the novelty is rapidly wearing off, and most importantly, form hasn’t followed function on what should be a practical, utilitarian car.

    The majority of Americans seem to believe they need to drive around in an armored bathtub peaking out the top, or they’ll be killed. I feel safer with more glass, because I can see. The Soul reminds me of a tiny Hummer H2.

    The real challenge for automakers is to offer a practical car like this with styling that isn’t boring, yet offers visibility comparable to a BMW 2002, without making the agoraphobes feel unsafe driving it. Not sure that combination is possible, but that’s why it’s a challenge.

    Also, yeah, whoever made that “last-minute” decision to omit a feature listed on the car’s sticker should be fired, post-haste. Because frankly, that’s just bush league.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      Closest thing to that is a Subaru Forester, I think. I’ve been shopping new and sued cars this year, including two hours at the auto show, and the Forester was the only one I test-sat that impressed me with its overall visibility. Wide glass and thin pillars, just like I like it. Too bad the powertrains are thirsty and antiquated. D’ya know that the Forester’s B-pillars are reinforced by a bar of boron? It’s supposed to be a real challenge to “jaws of life” recovery efforts.

      • 0 avatar
        aspade

        The new Impreza wagon looks similarly airy and it has a modern green powertrain. Which is to say it’s dog slow with a CVT and a 100/0 AWD split until you’re already slipping.

        The Forester has a great greenhouse but that’s perched on top of a deep beltline in its own right. The driver’s seat is OK but the passenger’s is about 3″ lower and nonadjustable. Short passengers may complain.

      • 0 avatar
        VanillaDude

        Subarus are not in this market.
        They are overpriced within their own market as is.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Hamsters are dirty, disgusting, filthy rodents. Kia, if you REALLY want to impress the largest potential buyers, use dogs!

    On second thought, hamsters, being what they are, reflect that street culture very well…

    By the way, I like the Soul, but doubt I would buy one for myself, but one never says never.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Good to see Kia didn’t get overconfident with the sales numbers on this car and neglect the powertrains. I was not impressed with the 140hp 2.0 liter 4-spd auto combination in the 2009 model. But this revised engine/transmission looks like it will remove yet another reason to consider the xB.

    Having lost nearly all marketshare in this class to Kia, I wonder what direction Scion will take with the new xB.

  • avatar
    dolorean

    The Soul has to be one of the few Korean cars I would ever deem to look at seriously. However, being in the military it would creep me out to be driving around in a K-I-A.

    Hate to be nit-picky, but you really talked up the 6 speed, but the pictures clearly show an automatic. I’m assuming it was in the not-so-nice white Soul shown?

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Sharp eyes! The car I actually drove is the top photo… if you look you can see me in the passenger seat. My camera got left in a friend’s car the night before and I didn’t get it back until the evening after the drive, thus the stock photos.

  • avatar
    dwford

    My sister just picked uo a 2012 Soul base 6 speed manual. $14,745 gets you quite a lot. The only thing she wishes it had is keyless remote. There is no way into the htachback unless you open the drivers door and hit the unlock button. No keyhole on the hatch. Other than that nice car.

    If you want the cruise, you can get the Accent SE 6 speed manual for about $16,800.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Because there is central locking, I am fairly sure you can add a keyless remote entry system to the car for around $200. Or less, if you have the skills to install it yourself. My daughter has been saving up for one for her base model 2005 Accent with a similar central locking system.

      For that matter, cruise can be added as well, for around $300. Ebay might even be cheaper, she doesn’t care much about cruise.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    GM had this same issue with early production 2009 G8s – indicated Bluetooth in the literature and the sticker – no Bluetooth in the car. Seriously pissed off a small, but very vocal owners.

    It isn’t good PR – especially when the fix is probably easy.

  • avatar

    I got a bad, nay horrible back. I use the cruise even around town.

  • avatar
    Tuce

    What are the sound characteristics of a direct injected engine?

  • avatar
    A Caving Ape

    I would be livid if I ordered a car with cruise control and was delivered one without it. It’s one of my few must-have luxuries; I use it every day and go on a lot of long trips to boot. I would do everything I could to return the car, that’s a MAJOR omission.

  • avatar
    david42

    Hyundai made a similar equipment/marketing error with the Genesis: the 2011 materials indicated that cars with the Premium package would get HID headlights…. which was wrong. The Monroneys were correct, as far as I know.

    I care deeply about HIDs, so made sure to double-check my actual Genesis before buying it. And was disappointed to find dull halogens. However, I don’t care deeply enough about HIDs to pay the extra $4k (or was it $5k?) for the Tech package which actually includes them.

    Anyway. Hyundais/Kias are generally delightful vehicles, but every so often I run into a reminder of their not-too-distant past.

  • avatar
    Wraith

    Didn’t see it mentioned in the article or comments, but for those interested, the automatic is now a 6-speed (previously 4).

    • 0 avatar
      Banger

      Good to know. One of the reasons I overlooked the Soul was the old-school slushbox, which wasn’t getting good reviews at owner forums for either performance or longevity. My wife just flatly didn’t like the styling as well, and hated the windows/blind spots vs. the Cube. We both were indifferent to the Kia’s interior.

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    I was trying to decide between the 2012 Soul, an XB, and a slightly used Element to replace my old Jetta wagon. I really liked the Soul and would definitely have take it over the XB, but I found a great deal on a 09 Element EX that I just couldn’t turn down (18,000km or about 11,000 miles and the same price as a Soul!).

    Still, I think the Soul is a truly great little vehicle.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Cruise control was a dealer-add option when I bought my 05 xB1, but I purchased the very same unit from eBay for $200 and installed it myself. Perhaps the Soul has a similar solution.

    Scion has long lost me as a future customer because their products have lost my interest. My xB1 is nearly perfect – no problems at all, but the xB2 and xD, etc., just don’t catch my eye.

    BTW, the line about the 2001 Elantra is funny – I have one as a 3rd car. It’s not bad for 162k miles.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    With a tall boxy shape, and light weight, I would be worried about rollover. Did it feel at all tipsy?

  • avatar
    inamishland

    Do the rear seats fold flat? Also is it possible to add cruise control? I was told on GM trucks for several years to save costs and simplify part orders for the factory, a standard wiring harness that included cruise control was installed regardless if the vehicle was ordered with cruise control or not. Checking cruise control on the purchase sheet just added the dash switch. One could install the switch themselves and add cruise control for free.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    But…why?

    Why buy these boxy hard to back-up/hard to park square boxes IF theirload values really aren’t that big a deal?

    I still think hot hatches are better, especially if their prices are going to be around the same area.
    Can’t you get Mazda3s or Hyundai or Kia hatches in the 17 to 18 grand areas? Even this one fully loaded is hitting the 20 grand mark.

    These give the storage AND better drives all around. Not to mention you don’t feel that odd driving one.

    Next thing we will see is a Ford Transit review.

    • 0 avatar
      Banger

      “Next thing we will see is a Ford Transit review.”

      I think you mean Ford Transit Connect, which is the only Transit we’re getting in the North American market right now, but nonetheless I say to the TTAC gods: Bringeth us thou small utility van review, tout de suite!

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        I went back in time and did it for you! :)

        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/one-thousand-miles-thirteen-guitars-and-one-night-in-a-transit-connect-verse-one/

      • 0 avatar
        Banger

        “I went back in time and did it for you!”

        Ah yes, the 13 guitars piece. Nice to read that again.

        I’d love to see a review on the “XLT” version of the Transit Connect. If any of you TTACers have an offspring or two to schlep around, all the better to test out its small-family hauling prowess.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The erstwhile hot-hatches aren’t nearly as people friendly as this or the Cube. They have a little more storage, but not much, and it’s moot if you’re only carrying two people and really moot if you don’t care how they drive in extremis.

      Plus, they’re easy to get in and out of. Not having to duck and squat is important to many people. Its why I bought a Fit (and not a Civic or Accord) and why I would have bought a Cube had one been available.

      Comparing prices is kind of meaningless. Yes, you can get a bigger car for the price of a loaded Soul, but you get less content, lower chair height and less usable people space. Not everyone buys cars on the basis of EPA cubes per dollar.

      • 0 avatar
        Banger

        ^This hits just about every reason why the Cube was perfect for us.

        We knew we were wanting to have a baby soon (and though we didn’t know it at the time of purchase, my wife was actually a couple weeks pregnant!) so something that would make for easy wrangling of an infant safety seat was essential. The Cube’s “park bench” height seat cushions make this a lot easier than it would be in, say, a Hyundai Elantra Touring, Ford Fiesta, or Toyota Yaris. The tall doors and high roofline help a great deal, too.

        I say “just about” every reason because the one important consideration for my wife couldn’t be met by most jellybean-shaped cars and so-called “hot hatches” on the market today: She wanted to be able to clearly tell where all four “corners” of her car were located when parking. Traditional sedans make her feel blind when trying to back up, because she’s quite short and has a hard time seeing over the decklid. Ditto for upward-swept rear glass in hatches and wagons (a’la Kia Soul). She also likes to be able to see the nose of the car when pulling into a parking space or garage, and that’s something fewer and fewer cars today offer, in the eternal quest for a better drag coefficient and higher fuel efficiency.

        I’m so chuffed with the Cube that I’m honestly debating whether to buy a stripped manual transmission Cube or a V6 manual transmission Ford Mustang for my next daily driver. Wrap your head around that. Both fun cars, and both appealing rides to yours truly, for vastly different reasons.

  • avatar
    darex

    Not mentioned, but highly relevant: A back-up camera appears on the 2012 model (not sure with which configurations though).

    It all but eliminates the parking difficulties or other rearward viewing issues.

  • avatar
    segfault

    “It’s possible to spend well over twenty grand on a Soul, if you’re so inclined.”

    Zing!

  • avatar
    TAP

    Why buy these boxy little square boxes? Because they fit my body type perfectly- tall, wide torso and short legs.

  • avatar
    iNeon

    Did they pad the center armrest, or is it hard plastic like the last one? So many words about cruise control + stick shifts(completely unnecessary,) but not a peep about this?

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      Didn’t TTAC already beat to death the center armrest and cruise control debate back in 2007 with the Saturn Astra review?

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2007/12/saturn-astra-review/

  • avatar
    Les

    I almost never used cruise control on my previous car, though I can see the logic of offering it on automatic models but not manual ones.. I mean, I think the idea behind getting a manual is to have More control, not to delegate control to the car itself.

    I myself recently got a new Soul + with the auto and the audio upgrade.. oh, satellite radio, where have you been all my life. ^.^

  • avatar
    Jurgen

    My current vehicle is a GMC Canyon with manual transmission, manual locks, crank windows and no cruise control. As I tend to not commute in heavy traffic I still prefer the manual transmission. But, for road trips I WANT– cruise control and seats that recline. (for the occasional rest stop cat nap) I would like remote unlocking and automatic locks, especially with rear hatch. In this day & age no one, repeat no one remembers to lock the passenger door when getting out. Everyone has been trained by modern cars. So yep, I’d be interested– But give me cruise control and auto locks, maybe a rear view camera too?

  • avatar
    dolorean

    Cruise control should be a standard option on cars now. Every car I’ve owned either had it at purchase or, if used, I pulled one out of a junkyard to retrofit. I find it amazing that people don’t use it very often and always end up behind someone on the highway who is incapable of maintaining a set speed. Riding with someone who doesn’t use CC can make you sea-sick with the back-n-forth between the speed limit and 10 mph over. Not sure about the level of control, love the fact its set and forget. Never accidently over-speed cause I’m not paying attention. Can plan exactly how long it will take for me to travel having a set rate speed. Lots of good things. For the KIA Soul to not offer it standard would be a deal-breaker for me, though I bet the dealer would be thrilled to add it if asked for.

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      Likewise, nothing worse than mantaining a steady speed(without needing cruise control) 15-over, only to have some troll start pretend fusking your rear bumper in a rage.

  • avatar
    ZCD2.7T

    A timely review for me, Mr. Baruth, despite the TTAC overlords not really wanting to publish it.

    Tomorrow I expect to take delivery of a 2012 Soul Exclaim in Titanium Silver, and I’m pumped about it. I’m trading a 2008 Chevy Malibu LT2 V-6 with only 19K miles. (it was my late mother’s, and though a “nice” car, I really don’t enjoy driving it.)

    I’ve been back and forth on this deal, trying to decide if it was a good move or not, but after a 2nd test-drive, I decided that the Soul was too much fun all the way around NOT to buy it. The extra stuff on the Soul will be cool (sunroof, back-up camera, iPod integration, side air bags, rockin’ Infinity sound system, better headlights with LED running lights, etc.), and the funky looks, practicality and much better MPG are also big bonuses.

    I appreciate the confirmation of my choice from a fellow car-guy.

    Signed – I *might* be crazy.

  • avatar
    mcarr

    I can see why Kia would hesitate to put cruise on a manual-equipped car that can’t pull a small hill in 6th gear. They probably have visions of owners lugging their engines and eventually stalling on the freeway and getting rear-ended. Which is probably why the Scion spins at 4000 at 80 in top gear. Actually, I’ve noticed that in general, most manuals have a shorter final drive then their auto counterparts. Designing for the lowest common denominator, I guess.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Any manual with cruise control has safeguards to stop this. Generally, you can’t engage cruise at <50km/h, and it will automatically disengage if it starts to lug.

      And again, that's at 50km/h. There is no car for sale in North America that would drop in speed that dramatically on a modest incline.

      • 0 avatar
        mcarr

        Well, you learn something everyday! My limited experience with cruise/manual was before the disengage was widely available apparently. Obviously, there’s no good reason not to have cruise as standard equipment on all vehicles. That along with A/C are my personal minimums.

    • 0 avatar
      nikita

      Manuals have always had shorter final drive due to the torque multiplication of an automatic at launch. Why top gear is not more of an overdrive on the Scion (if its an xB) may be wind resistance combined with the lack of engine torque at low rpm.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Interesting take on the manual. I say this because, whgen this car came out, it had the same awful stick that the Rio was cursed with at the time.

    Did it improve along with the rest of the powertrain?

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Toyota messed up the xB with the bigger has to be better theory which in this case failed miserably, they should have increased the size only a bit, kept the weight low and used the Corolla 1.8 engine.

  • avatar
    confused1096

    Still thinking of going to the Kia dealer and taking a look. These things are growing on me.

    Why in the world are they having an issue with cruise on a stick? I have a 25 year old Z31 with this feature for God’s sake.

  • avatar
    geolmo

    I have owned 2 Kia Souls. My first was a 2010 plus, very basic as it was the first year. I fell in love with it the moment I sat in it. Unfortunately my son totalled it 2 weeks ago. But not just loving this car but seeing how it held up in this accident made me a believer. He went airborne and landed in a ditch, the outside was damaged, airbags went off but the cabin did not collapse. Everyone was fine. This sold me. When I went to get another car I knew it would be a Kia Soul, I got the 2012 +with the UVO in it, same Ailien green. Everything is beefed up, the seats etc. It is the same car but more and better of it. And anyone that calls it a cube, NO WAY. It is just about the size of my husbands Mecury Mariner and the roominess inside does not say cube…..It says comfort. I don’t sit on the floor like a car and I am not a small women and I have lots of head and leg room. This car get an A++++ from me. My only dislike is the interior of the Exclaim, yuck.

    Love my car!

  • avatar
    Paulie

    Based on the reviews and discussion here at TTAC, I actually just went and purchased a 2012 Soul 4u Luxury (yes, the models are different in Canada).

    It’s a lot of car for the dollar, and should do well on the bumpy winter roads of Saskatoon!

    Does anyone know the difference in functionality between UVO and the Nav system that comes in the Luxury?? We didn’t really need Nav, but we couldn’t change around options the way we wanted to delete it without going to the regular 4u or the Burner.

  • avatar
    ZCD2.7T

    [QUOTE]ZCD2.7T
    October 25th, 2011 at 10:01 am

    A timely review for me, Mr. Baruth, despite the TTAC overlords not really wanting to publish it.

    Tomorrow I expect to take delivery of a 2012 Soul Exclaim in Titanium Silver, and I’m pumped about it. I’m trading a 2008 Chevy Malibu LT2 V-6 with only 19K miles. (it was my late mother’s, and though a “nice” car, I really don’t enjoy driving it.)

    I’ve been back and forth on this deal, trying to decide if it was a good move or not, but after a 2nd test-drive, I decided that the Soul was too much fun all the way around NOT to buy it. The extra stuff on the Soul will be cool (sunroof, back-up camera, iPod integration, side air bags, rockin’ Infinity sound system, better headlights with LED running lights, etc.), and the funky looks, practicality and much better MPG are also big bonuses.

    I appreciate the confirmation of my choice from a fellow car-guy.

    Signed – I *might* be crazy.[/QUOTE]

    Turns out I’m probably not crazy.

    Took delivery of our “Shadow Black” Soul! in mid-November, and 2K miles later, I can report that’s it’s just as fun to drive, comfortable and cool as I thought it would be. It’s WAY more refined than I’d expected, being amazingly quiet and smooth particularly for a small car. The toys are fun, and the visibility and maneuverability are a welcome benefit. As someone who has never owned a truly small car before, I’m seriously impressed. FWIW.

  • avatar
    danman27

    If one of these front wheel drive Kias is fitted with snow tires, how will it handle in the snow? I was always under the impression that FWD cars generally perform well in snow. Is this a bad car for someone living in Vermont given the lack of AWD?

    • 0 avatar
      ZCD2.7T

      I just had a set of snow tires put on our Soul last week. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) we haven’t had any snow to test out the setup yet. I’m expecting it to do well when the white stuff finally falls.

      For what it’s worth, I went with 205/60/16 General Altimax Arctic tires on 16″ x 7″ Momo “Winter 1″ wheels, purchased through Discount Tire.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    Does anyone know how/if this differs from the model offered in Brazil?

    My sister-in-law pointed this out to us (we are looking for a car in Brazil). Although starting at $31,500 USD and going up to $35,000 USD is too expensive for us, we’d take a look here just so my wife can see it’s not $15,000 USD better than what we are looking at.

    Calling Marcello…


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