Cooley's Logbook: 2012 Kia Soul

Perhaps the leader in its microclass of small, boxy, fashionable urban vanettes.

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I like the Kia Soul more than its minibox rivals. It's cheap and cheerful, crisply styled in a way the doughy Nissan Cube should emulate. But I was disappointed in the newly revised power train. It's more advanced in terms of engine tech, output figures, and number of gears yet it all added up to a pretty gutless and vague driving experience. I don't recall that from the 2011 model. The automatic transmission is probably a poor choice for this car if you know how to shift.

It's also no small matter that Kia burdens the Soul with a bunch of dowdy colors and the alien green they sent us. Aside from Alien, all the rest are drab or black and do this car no favors. It needs a red, a light metallic blue, and a bright, shiny silver on the palette. (CORRECTION: Kia pointed out to me that a lovely red is available on higher trim level Souls. And while they do offer it in silver, it strikes me as a rather drab silver!)

Also, check out CNET's full review of the 2012 Kia Soul.