By on July 18, 2018

Annual sales of this upright little Kia regularly crest 100,000 units, despite casting roughly the same shadow since its introduction 10 model years ago — though it did grow slightly in wheelbase and width during its 2014 restyle.

Its early marketing efforts, featuring life-sized animated hamsters that frequently haunt my dreams, were actually inducted into the Madison Avenue Walk of Fame. The people who decide such things deemed the hamsters such a hit they now reside along the Aflac Duck and Tony the Tiger as advertising superstars. Hmm.

With robust sales, the Soul is doing anything but spinning on a stationary hamster wheel, particularly in base trim.

Entry-level models of the Soul (refreshingly titled Base, by the way) are powered by Kia’s 1.6-liter inline-four, making 130 horsepower and hooked to a six-speed manual as standard equipment. New drivers should appreciate the Hill Start Assist Control, preventing them from introducing their car to the vehicle astern while they’re still learning the finer points of a manual ‘box. The automatic is a $1,600 option, a hundred more bones than last year.

A rear camera is hardly worth mentioning these days, given that it appears on just about every car and soon will be required to appear on every car. Still, it is a feature enjoyed by your humble author, allowing him to avoid flattening wayward debris and line up the rear bumper just-so with painted parking lot lines. Yes, I could do the same by deploying the line-up-the-sideview-mirrors-with-your-neighbour trick, but parking lots around here are not often packed to the gunwales, allowing one to park their new ride in a secluded part of the lot.

One needn’t be concerned with flat-black mirrors and steelies announcing their frugality to fellow motorists; color-keyed power units and natty sixteen-inch alloys are standard equipment. The rubber is sized 205/60, zoomier than most base cars but should still bear a price tag within good reason at replacement time. Inside, one finds touchscreens and USB plugger-inners, plus the all-important air conditioning.

Speaking of color, the typical shades of grey are available, along with a jaunty hue called Alien Green. Your author would definitely select the bold and obnoxious color but, in a fit of practicality, realizes that a more muted shade would likely make the thing easier to sell at trade-in time. Shadow Black hides the base car’s funereal bumper inserts quite nicely.

Incentives are rarely mentioned in this series given they are a fickle thing, dependent on region and time of year. It is worth noting, though, that Kia is offering a not-insignificant $2220 lease cash in some markets on a 24-month term, carving a significant chunk off its $16,490 price tag for the 2019 model year. Given its standard level of kit, that’s a pretty good value play.

[Image: Kia Motors]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones that have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and is priced in American Dollars.  As always, your dealer may sell for less.

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40 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2019 Kia Soul Base...”


  • avatar
    ernest

    +1. I think the Soul is one of the most underappreciated vehicles in the marketplace. Cute, affordable, quirky enough to appeal to the hipsters, but not so much that it’ll turn off other demographics. Small enough to adapt to an urban environment, big enough to be used every day. The interior is more useful than the exterior would lead you to believe, and ther dollar value is hard to beat. Good call, IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      Sub-600

      These cars appeal to “plastic hipsters”, I’ve never seen anyone under 65 years-old get out of one. Boomers love these things. B-52…Bingo!

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        My sister is about half that, and she picked up one a year ago. Functionally, it’s more or less a Mini with some ride height baked in.

      • 0 avatar
        MoparRocker74

        In my area (PDX) these have a strong 20s-40s owner demographic. But a LOT are still owned by oldsters for some reason.

        • 0 avatar
          Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

          Easy to drive and park, chair-like step-in height, lots of features, cheaper than a comparable small CUV. The oldster demographic may also be less influenced by badge perception, just as long as the vehicle works, and works for them.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          I see plenty of the non-AARP crowd driving these. One of my good friends has another friend who has one, she loves it. She’s our age (mid-30s) and has two children. Its practical, was affordable, and gets decent mileage. She could have done a lot worse, IMO.

          If looking only at the Hyundai-Kia lineup with a budget in mind, these would be at the absolute top of my list.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Around the time the second generation debuted, my grandmother bought a 2014 Soul in Alien Green II. She got the Plus model, with the sound and navigation package, so it’s pretty mid-spec.

    It has the bigger 2.0-liter, instead of the 1.6-liter, which is only on the base model. I hate the way it drives on the highway, where it usually has to downshift two or three times to get any passing power, but around town (where she drives), it’s great. Plus, the cloth seating looks like new despite many soda spills, including the time I spilled root beer in it.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Count me a fan of Soul. When on biz trips, I intentionally seek to rent these. I find them roomy–lots of head and shoulder room, easy entry and egress–while still within the lower tiers of daily rates. The last one I rented, from Hertz in Detroit, was a 2018 midlevel version with the 2.0 engine.

    These cars have two demerits: A ride that is a bit bouncy, due to its low-rent rear suspension, and a bit thirstier than its sedan counterparts—that shape takes a bit of power to push through the air.

    My next car purchase will likely be the turbo 1.6 version…after they have had a chance to depreciate. These are great used car values.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      The Fortes don’t get spectacular mileage, either. The 2012 Koup SX auto (2.4l) my daughter drives gets 20 mpg around town, and the 2010 Koup EX 5-speed manual (2.0l) she had before couldn’t manage more than 23. Not very impressive.

      • 0 avatar
        R Henry

        Hmm..not sure why that is. I had a 2011 Forte LX sedan(base) with theta series 2.0 and 6-sp manual..and averaged 32.5 mpg in mixed driving over the 84,000 miles I drove it.

        • 0 avatar
          tankinbeans

          Seconded, I had a 2011 LX 6MT for awhile and I was legitimately irked the few times it didn’t crack 30 in mixed driving. It was usually closer to 35.

          I’ve always been amused by the Soul and wouldn’t necessarily turn one down if it were offered.

        • 0 avatar
          Carroll Prescott

          Henry, it is because you didn’t drive it like a Ferrari. People who get horrible gas mileage in small vehicles think they can drive at 75 mph on the highway, rush to a stoplight, gas it at the green light, and drive like they have no common sense.

          I know from careful driving that you can always beat the EPA number. But you have to drive with your head out of your backside and resist driving OVER the speed limit and racing to stoplights. I’m no hypermiler, but I batch my trips in a logical sequence so that I use the car once that day and keep the car warmed up so it gets better mileage throughout the trip for the next stop.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            I don’t know man…I’ve been beating the snot out of my Fiesta for 2 weeks and I am 1 mpg under the epa combined rating. I’ll take that.

      • 0 avatar
        Max Weiss

        Loved my 2011 Forte Koup with the 2.4 liter, 6-speed auto. Would average 24-27 mpg around town and 32-34 mpg highway, sometimes 35-37 mpg.

        These averages were greatly dependent on road and weather conditions as well as speed and driving skills.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Alloy wheels as standard? Nice.

  • avatar
    gtem

    Best and most fitting Ace of Base yet IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Bet ya, Mazda does better

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        There’s nothing Mazda sells in the US that is similar to this car. Maybe the CX3 comes the closest, but it’s base price is way more than this car.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          geozinger, I mean, Mazda Base cars are really good being loaded. the comment was for “most fitting Ace of Base”. In mazda6 base I have navigation, mirror turn signals, leather-stitched dash, lumbar support… and list goes on. Mazda base cars really good for base cars.

        • 0 avatar
          Featherston

          @ geozinger – I can’t vouch for the second-gen Soul, but the first-gen definitely has the CX-3 beaten on back seat comfort. The first-gen Soul is a “four of me at 5’10” could ride in this all day” car. The CX-3, OTOH, has a “wouldn’t want to go further than a ride across town” back seat. The Kia is 2.4″ taller, and all of that seems to have gone to headroom. Furthermore, the Kia’s rear seat seems mounted further back from the front seats.

          Factor in a very significant price difference, and I agree that these two models are not comparable.

          I’ve only ridden in them; I haven’t driven them. Maybe the CX-3 trounces the Soul in dynamics. I’m not necessarily saying it’s a terrible vehicle.

  • avatar
    salmonmigration

    The Kia Soul is today’s PT cruiser.

    When it’s gone it will be remembered horribly, but that’s a shame.

    Its styling is distinctive and will be regarded with disdain in the future, but when it debuted it was decidedly cool.

    In reality it’s exceptionally practical for a vehicle its size. It gets decent fuel economy, it’s affordable, and has no real downsides.

    Can’t wait for the next cool big hatchback from a second-rate automaker!

    • 0 avatar
      John Scott

      Soul as neo-PT Cruiser? I don’t recall people on waiting lists for a first gen Soul or anyone, ever, paying MSRP+ for a Soul. A lot of the hindsight animosity toward the PT has more to do with it’s fall from being a “perceived” premium car to the reality that it was really just a funky looking Neon wagon. If the PT had stayed a Plymouth as planned and been sold as a low-priced entry to the retro car world of New Beetles, Teutonic MINIs and post-New Edge Mustangs (or first step on the ladder to a retirement fund financed Prowler) I doubt it would be held in quite as much contempt as it is today. Or if it had been as solidly built and reliable as a Soul that could’ve changed things as well for the lowly PT Cruiser.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        “Or if it had been as solidly built and reliable as a Soul that could’ve changed things as well for the lowly PT Cruiser.”

        Agreed, I see relatively new/low mileage ones with major issues going for pennies. They were junk.

        Yes, they were a sensation when they came out, but once the newness wore off, they were seen as exactly what they are.

        I’d argue that their sales should have been higher in the recession, given their cheaper price and better fuel economy vs many other cars. But, the cat was out of the bag by then.

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

      I’m relatively confident that history will remember the Soul more fondly than the PT Cruiser, because the Kia remains far more popular than the PT Cruiser at this point in their respective histories.

      Last year, Kia moved 115,000 Souls in the nameplate’s ninth year in the U.S. and looks to be on a similar track for 2018; by comparison, in the PT Cruiser’s ninth year (2008) Chrysler managed to sell just 51,000 of them, with that number plummeting to less than 18,000 the following year. (Source: carsalesbase.com.)

      The 2008-2009 recession can certainly be blamed for some of that discrepancy, but it’s also worth noting the second-gen Soul successfully continued the design language of the original, while also adding content, and without obvious cheapening – all unlike the revamped 2006-2010 PT Cruiser.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        In defense of the PT Cruiser: It was released for Y2K just in time for it’s division to be shuttered. In the late 90’s we were all nuts about retro cars, there just weren’t enough. The PT was a decently utilitarian car that could be dressed up fairly well. It hit just about where the public reached a saturation point with retromobiles (but still not as late as GM with the HHR). But we had no idea what was about to happen to Chrysler Corporation as a whole. There were few updates, and once the Daimler disease really set in, the car was super cheap and far from cheerful. It was left on the vine to die and Daimler couldn’t have been any happier. Cerberus clearly had no clue what to do with a whole corporation much less one car line. It soldiered on until the end.

        Hyundai/Kia on the other hand, is not trying to suck the life out of the Kia division and are actively investing in keeping the car line alive. These are not being dumped wholesale into the daily rental and blown out of the lot with zero percent financing. A stout warranty seems to help the decent reputation and resale values.

        I still have to wonder how Chrysler would have turned out with Bob Lutz running the show instead of Bob Eaton…

        • 0 avatar
          John Scott

          I liked the idea of the PT – even the retro style didn’t hurt it too much as far as function went – but the continual cheapening on top of the inherent weaknesses of the Neon platform lead to what happened: as soon as all the people swept up in retro mania bought theirs the only thing the PT had going for it was its cut rate price. If, like Geozinger inferred above, Daimler had actually put some effort into developing a PT Cruiser 2 things might have turned out better. Maybe a real alternative to the RAV4 and Escape in wagon form could’ve changed things for Chrysler…

  • avatar
    Russycle

    With the Scion xB gone I’m glad there’s still a cheap, roomy box on the market, these are great for people who want a lot of room and don’t want to pay the CUV premium. But I’d much rather have the Toyota 2.4, lots more oomph and nearly the same mpg.

  • avatar
    mjd1001

    I think the title should be 2018 Kia Soul…the 2019 Soul isn’t out yet..and there is supposed to be a slight refresh for the 2019 model year.

    As far as the car goes overall, we bought a 2017 Turbo Soul right when they came out..and have 55,000 miles on it already. Like the car a lot. As others have said…it is one of the easiest cars out there to get into and out of..as well as park. The ‘boxy-ness’ of it makes it seem to have as much room in the front seat as cars that are a full class size above it.

    If it were me, I’d like the engine to have a bit less turbo-lag, and for it to have the Kia/Hyundai conventonal 8-speed auto instead of the 7-speed DCT..but those are minor complaints.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I know several people with these. One is my brother-in-law whose on his second one. The first one was taken out by a deer (at speed!) in Indiana. Everyone but the deer survived with minimal injuries and they proceeded to get another one, this time the ! (exclaim) version. My BIL is not a car guy by any means, but he and his wife really like these. They run triathlons and etc., and use the car as their hauler and base camp. It works well for that purpose without having to pony up big bucks for a CUV.

    Another person I know that has one of these is a single mom of two teenage daughters, one of which is now learning to drive in it. I guess it’s not an intimidating car to drive, especially for the newbie. She’s had the car for three or four years now and it seems to be relatively trouble free, or at least I’ve not heard any complaints about it. She’s not making a million dollars, so it was a relatively basic car, but she likes it and that’s all that really matters to her.

    I’m helping a young man look for his first new car this summer, based on these experiences, it’s one I want him to look at.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    When my eldest daughter rents are car or reserves one from the car sharing service, the Soul is her first choice.

    Large enough inside for 4 to fit comfortably, with their shopping. Small enough to navigate city traffic and park. Decent visibility. The preferred ride and step in height.

    And for those purchasing it has a good reliability record and Kia’s warranty.

  • avatar
    MoparRocker74

    I hate the hamster thing, but that said, these make infinitely more sense than a comparable sedan in every way if you actually have hobbies/activities you enjoy. Whats lame is barely if any manual transmission availability and definitely not with the turbo which is a total boneheaded move…especially since these are getting a stigma as grannymobiles. That said, I do see a good many younger people driving these…just a bit outnumbered by the hip replacement set.

  • avatar
    fleeecy

    We actually just bought one. We chose the EV version to replace a thirsty ’13 Outback 3.6R as our family of 4’s errands/commute vehicle. It’s only been a month and 3000 km so far, but the car has been a pleasure to use so far!

  • avatar
    quickson

    One of my co-workers bought one when they first came out. She’s a single mother approaching 30 and drives all over creation. She’s still driving it and it seems to be holding up very well, certainly better than our Fords did/have.

    At this price point, it’s an excellent buy (IMO).

    The base model isn’t for me, though. I could probably be talked into the turbo Exclaim models of the last few years. Those have a solid power-to-weight ratio for the kind of Texas freeway driving I have to do on the regular.

  • avatar
    Carroll Prescott

    I absolutely loathe CUV’s and SUV’s – but this little Soul is efficient, pragmatic, and is not a bloated land yacht for one woman and two children.

    This is one nice vehicle and I applaud Kia for continuing to keep it real with this vehicle – they know what they have, they don’t mess with success, and don’t want to turn it into a snob mobile (like Honduh and Toyoduh have done with the CR-v and whatever that Toyoduh is called). Simple is a great thing. And it is not ugly like the Duh Sisters’ products.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Poignant comments Carroll, and then I get to the “duh” parts. We get it, you don’t like Toyota and Honda. But by continually doing the “duh”, it takes away from the the gravity of your comments, at least to me.

      Regarding the Soul, I’m glad it’s around. A refreshing shape (inheriting the original xB mantle), reasonable entry price, and apparently a good reliability record. I’d certainly consider a look at the EV model…

  • avatar
    IanGTCS

    I bought a used one over the winter as my winter/ferry my son/don’t want to drive the mustang car, and so far I’m really happy. I really like how good the visibility is and how roomy it is for being a small car. I’m 6’4″ and find it very comfortable inside.

    It isn’t a thrilling ride or anything, but it does the job especially when you consider the price. I completely understand why they sell so many of them.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    Just can’t get over the D-pillar looking straight from the designer of the AMC Gremlin.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    FWIW they sold 1.5 million Pet Rocks.

  • avatar
    ZCD2.7T

    My daughter drives a 2012 Exclaim that we purchased new. I still enjoy driving it whenever it’s around. It’s an honest car that does pretty much everything well (except for 80+ mph freeway cruising, because aerodynamics) and is actually fun to drive. The bells and whistles are all nice, too, and the infotainment is dead-easy to use. I’d happily daily drive one, and my usual DD is an Audi S6…


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