The idea of a boxy four-seater with a hatchback isn't new, but Kia has done an excellent job styling its new Soul model, giving it a sporty look.

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Although generally fitting the box-on-wheels mold, the front of the Soul is nicely curved, giving it a slightly more aerodynamic look.

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Insetting the turn signals from the headlights makes for an interesting look.

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The 2-liter four-cylinder engine only puts out 142 horsepower, and coupled with the four-speed automatic, performance is a little anemic.

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By blackening the A- and B-pillars, Kia accentuates the hat-like look of the roof, with its forward slash.

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The suspension of the Soul is more rigid than soft, which helps handling but translates bumps in the road to the cabin rather harshly.

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The cargo area isn't huge, but the split folding rear seats allow for flexibility.

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The cabin definitely has an economy-car feel. Although there are some exceptional cabin technology, GPS navigation isn't available.

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The Exclaim is one of the top trim levels of the Soul and includes things such as this multifunction steering wheel.

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As an economy car, Kia keeps the gauges simple. The little screen in the speedometer only shows odometer and trip miles.

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The four-speed automatic transmission is a limiting factor with the Soul. The car might get better mileage with an extra cog or two.

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The stereo controls are fine for radio but are too simple for browsing music on an iPod.

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One delightful feature are these light-up speakers, mounted in the two front doors. They pulse to whatever music is currently playing.

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Satellite radio comes standard in this top trim Soul.

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The CD player can read MP3 tracks, but the small screen means lots of information scrolling.

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When playing music from an iPod, the menu button chooses artist, album, genre, and song, while the right-hand dial navigates through listings in those categories.

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The standard audio system is very good, with a 315-watt amp, center channel, and subwoofer.

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The Bluetooth phone system really stands out in the Soul, as it lets you make calls by saying a name from the paired phone's contact list.

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