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regfootball

2011 Kia Soul Sport

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Test- black 2010? Kia Soul Sport, black, red interior. 4 speed auto. Price was like close to 21 grand.

Highs

Terrific driver and passenger space and seat comfort. Rear seats are even comfortable and seem to have good space.

Nice interior materials and plastics....even the red color looked fantastic in bright sun, textures looked rich and detailed and very little offensive gloss.

Ergonomics, everything is laid out nicely and all switches and buttons felt great. Climate controls are very nice! Radio fairly easy to search songs on the flash drive when using SWAC and buttons on the radio. Seating position is nice, not SUV high, and a more chairlike than a car.

Interior design is very detailed and not a single bad line. This is what is called 'following the design all the way through the details'. I know it helped tremendously having a two tone interior here. The all black interior may not be as handsome to some.

Visibility is very strong all around.

Styling - it's your call, it's perky without being overboard. I'd redo the rear taillights and less of a Chimpokemon headlight design. But its more cheeky than say, a Nissan Cube (which is just slightly perverse).

Cargo space.....when you fold down the back seat. Otherwise cargo room is not bad if one were to take out the tray on top of the space and drop down a new bottom liner to make the trunk well go down deeper. In any event, grocery bags will fit nicely.

Handling / ride was a mild surprise, this was the 18" wheels doing I think. Not that it's a sports car, but it felt sorted out for the little bit I drove it. It did feel secure and stable. Strangely felt more buttoned down the Sportage just before.

Cupholders and armrest, usually neglected in cheaper vehicles, were good and unexpected.

Gauges I found to be pretty nice, again for this class.

Steering, kind of not bad, see the lows part for the disclaimer.

Interior noise was less than I expected and actually the vehicle seemed to have a higher level of NVH tuning than the Sportage I drove right before this. You COULD take this vehicle on a trip if........

LOWS

there were a bit more cargo space without folding the rear seats. I know its a short box, but more cargo room would help.

if........the engine had more go juice and the tranny had more than four gears.

speaking of 4 gears, I am not sure a manumatic really has any benefit in a four speed. Despite that, the manual shift worked decently.

BACK TO THE HIGHS

because it sets up the next low. the engine, for such a low power output and only having 4 gears, did not totally accost itself in driving, either in town or on the short freeway jaunt. I was surprised that it pulled as decently as it did for the listed power. But.....

BACK TO THE LOWS

it still was a reminder of why people put 5 and 6 speeds in cars now. And why a little more power is never a bad thing. Its not like the Soul has stellar mpg numbers. The optional engine from the Kia Forte with its 170hp +/- could only help the matter.

In fact, with that much power and a 6 speed manual or auto would REALLY make this a funky little ride. I would like to a see a high mpg version of this car too, one with a simple engine and perhaps a CVT tranny to get the rpm down on the highway and the epa up.

The Soul by design is nose heavy with such a blunt back end. The reality of it is more apparent when driving, its very nose heavy and you feel it when turning the vehicle. I only really felt that at low speeds. I am not sure you can 'unbake' that out of a car which inherently has so little actual physical matter beyond the rear wheels. Perhaps the power steering needs some fine tuning.

Car felt heavier than its actual curb weight, sometimes this is good, but here I think if it felt more its light weight, it could even feel more sprite. Another remnant of having so much of the vehicle over the front and not much behind the rears.

SUMMARY

Since this was a short test, I feel I have to be a bit moderated here, but I really liked this vehicle and found it to be just the right amount of 'cheeky'. While scoring big in some aspects (driver and passenger space and comfort, as well as interiors and ergonomics), I found the two things that make you feel bad that they didn't fully score on (bigger trunk and more modern powertrain) leave you wondering how much nicer it would be if they had included those things.

But, all things considered, I really can't claim either as a deal breaker. The price class this is in, not many other vehicles will have sizable advantages in powertrain or trunk space. Perhaps the Xb might? but you know the Xb interior is horse's ass and I doubt the toyota powertrain is much if at all better.

This is still a relatively new class of vehicles in the US. We have the Xb, the Soul, the Cube, perhaps someday the GMC Granite (this is the packaging direction the HHR should go too, BTW). I think I could like this kind of vehicle.

I still want to try this vehicle with a stick. It might be the ticket that way, but even with the gives me pause 4 speed auto, I didn't think it was punishment to drive. Like I said, it has just a slightly cheeky feel to it, not overdone, that for many people looking for cheap transport, something different, and the means to carry an occasional box of above average size with....could find happiness with.

The pleasantries of a low montly payment would just be icing on the cake.

GRADE

B+ (if the powertrain were fixed I would probably give it an A-).

Edited by regfootball

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And once again the Koreans hand the Japanese their ass in a basket....this is just so much better than the Cube it's not funny....

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I haven't driven a Cube, I don't think I will. It seems quite flimsy. Bits and pieces on the inside of the Cube even are loose and flimsy. The Soul feels very sturdy. Even has the door 'thunks' going for it. The climate controls even move with a slick 'glide' and a definite 'click'.

The iconic styling should allow a long shelf life on this vehicle. Perhaps yet we will see a little more go juice and a 6 speed.

I think this segment will bust open, especially if more players come to the table, aka Granite.

I sorta see the Element in with this group too aside from it actually being too large, seemingly.

-edit-

some Kia Soul forum posters claim 2011 Soul will have 6 speed trannies, and available backup camera, auto climate control, and pushbutton start. We'll see if any of that comes true.

Edited by regfootball

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I've test driven a base-ish model with only 16" alloys and a manual. It definitely feels like a solid, well-constructed car that's bigger than it actually is. The clutch was super light, if a bit vague, and the gearing seemed well-suited for driving around town. It would work as a surprisingly competent family vehicle.

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Our xB is a pretty competent family vehicle....and again, the Soul is the pick of the pack as far as current mini boxes go...

Knight...why did they trade the MINI, too small?

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I've always wondered about these, since I see so many of them...but have yet to drive or even get inside.

Regarding the Cube, I've never thought of it as flimsy, and having driven them daily, they're extremely comfortable and smooth. They have that whole couch on wheels with very little road/wind/engine noise and are very, very smooth. The space is the impressive part, and yes, even I like driving them.

This is an interesting class of vehicles.

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A member of the family owns one of these. Traded a Mini to it, actually. I can sort of see the appeal.

Me too as I have considered trading in my MINI for a diesel Soul... Kia's crap residuals kept me from taking the plunge.

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I've always wondered about these, since I see so many of them...but have yet to drive or even get inside.

Regarding the Cube, I've never thought of it as flimsy, and having driven them daily, they're extremely comfortable and smooth. They have that whole couch on wheels with very little road/wind/engine noise and are very, very smooth. The space is the impressive part, and yes, even I like driving them.

This is an interesting class of vehicles.

Is there a Nissan salesman amongst us? :P

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Let's just put it this way, Z06...my teenage daughter has threatened some interesting things if I bring a Cube home. It is the car the whole family seems to love to hate....

And yes, methinks we have a Nissan salesman among us.

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I sell several lines. I give everything equal respect, and just in my experience, having driven the Cube quite a bit, found reactions to it vs. the Kia, etc. interesting. Not sure if I'd buy any of them.

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My mom loves her moss green Cube. She's turning 66 today, and it is perfect for her. Nice step-in height, plenty of room, very comfy, flat seats, smooth ride. We also drove a Soul. It rode harder and the bucket seats were narrower and too contoured for her comfort. It also seemed louder inside. It took her about a year to decide which one to get. She loved those hamster commercials, but the more serene Cube ruled the day in the end. The "pebble in a pond" headliner is an appropriate crowning touch to the gently funky little "transportation device". Every time I visit her, she tells me of the positive comments she gets from the public regarding her car. And she keeps it spotless.

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thanks for the real world info, blu. the rippled headliner and shag dash top are a couple of the things about the cube i find pretty cool.

any idea what her mpg is?

Edited by regfootball

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reg OMG isn't it a bit personal to ask about my mom's measurements?:o

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is she built for comfort, or built for speed?

my guess is if she is driving a Cube, she is built for comfort.

Does she like the feel of the shag rug on the dash? LOL sorry blu, couldn't resist.

I think its cool that your mom likes cool cars. My mom just likes whatever 7 year old cadillacs my dad brings home......

srsly though i would be interested to know what real world mpg is on the Cube. there is not much spread between the city and highway mpg on it.

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