Look for plenty of heart in the Kia Soul

SHARE Look for plenty of heart in the Kia Soul
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2016 Kia Soul

Enthusiasts will like upgraded features and exterior tweaks

While the Soul maintains its distinctly boxy approach to an economy vehicle, a trait that has won it many a buyer over a vast field of competitors in this segment, the new 2016 is still appealing for what it is not — expensive.

The value and feeling of efficiency with the tiny engine output is a plus for Soul, which still offers both manual and automatic variations. The new model still maintains its cuteness statement inside the cabin and the same high headroom, tall stance and solid cabin materials to push the bar ahead.

At a base price of $15,900, you can land the Soul you always wanted — though options can push you up above $30,000.

The exterior of the Soul really does what very few vehicles are able to: it has a distinct exterior styling that sets it apart from the entire class. This gen-two design holds to the original DNA and has a tall-box outline but adds gradual, modern edges that are softer and sleeker than the first version’s. Add to the exterior charm a bit of alloy wheel spotlight and the infusion of high-tech HID lights, and you have a really great contemporary version to race about town.

The Soul is a city car at its core. Featuring a notably peppy 164-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, the Soul has plenty of heart getting up to speed with local traffic and easily blending into highway flow. Base models offer a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine delivering 130 horsepower.

All engines send power to the front wheels only. The 1.6 comes standard with a six-speed manual, while the 2.0 is exclusively available with a six-speed automatic. At 24 mpg city and 30 mpg highway, you can appreciate never really getting to know your local gas station attendant.

The cabin of the Soul begs for attention, and it would be very easy to suggest it may be more distinctly Soul that the exterior. Featuring a modern flow across the dashboard’s cylindrical pods, offering air ducts and speakers, the overall feeling is an attitude of active fun.

2016 Kia Soul

2016 Kia Soul

I found the fit and finish and plastic surfaces to be far better than average and attractive, with little “cheap” feeling in sight. Passenger space accommodates four; front passengers will enjoy tons of leg room, and everyone benefits from the tall pillars and high ceiling.

Storage space is at a premium in the Soul. While the rear seats fold down to offer flexibility for storage, it doesn’t take too big an item to force the rear seats into the horizontal setting.

A new Premium package bundles driving aids such as a lane-departure warning system and a forward collision warning system, two firsts in the nameplate’s history. Cars ordered with the Premium package also benefit from navigation, an upgraded sound system, a panoramic sunroof, ventilated seats up front and heated seats all around.

At the end of the day, the new Kia Soul keeps the core heartbeat going for fans of the economy car, while those who might like to step up the add-ons will be happy to see more options and more tech.

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