Nuts & Bolts
Complaint: Kia should have put as much work into the Soul's suspension design as it did in the wagon's hip stuff, such as lights in front speaker enclosures that blink in rhythm with music played on the sound system.
Ride, acceleration and handling: Good ride and excellent handling on smooth roads. Marginal ride comfort and vehicle handling on bumpy streets. Highway acceleration is competent, meaning that the Soul can change lanes without venturing into eternity for its driver and passengers.
Head-turning quotient: "Is that the Scion xD?" No. Kindly read the badge. It's the Kia Soul, specifically the Soul!--which is more upscale than the Soul Base and Soul+, but less compelling than the top-of-the-line Soul Sport, which probably has a better suspension than the tested Soul!
Body style/layout: The Soul is a compact, front-engine, front-wheel drive urban wagon with four side doors and a rear hatch.
Engine/transmission: The 2-liter, 16-valve, inline four-cylinder engine in the tested Kia Soul develops 142 horsepower at 6,000 revolutions per minute and 137 foot-pounds of torque at 4,600 revolutions per minute. The engine is linked to a four-speed automatic transmission. A five-speed manual gearbox is available.
Capacities: There are seats for five people. It can carry several bulky packages and long items -- exact payload capacity is unavailable at this writing. Hauling capability is minimal. Fuel tank holds 11.5 gallons of recommended regular unleaded gasoline.
Mileage: The Environmental Protection Agency says the Soul gets 24 miles per gallon in the city and 31 miles per gallon on the highway. But we averaged 22 miles per gallon city and 29 miles per gallon highway.
Safety: Standard equipment includes ventilated front-discs and solid rear-disc brakes with antilock protection; side and head airbags; and, thankfully, electronic stability control.
Price: The 2010 Kia Soul with automatic transmission has a base price of $17,900. Dealer invoice price on that model is $16,775. Price as tested is $18,595, including a $695 destination charge. Dealer's price as tested is $17,470. Prices are sourced from Kia; Edmunds.com; and Cars.com, an affiliate of The Washington Post.
Purse-strings note: A very decent urban runner. Just keep it off of lousy roads.