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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.
Although generally fitting the box-on-wheels mold, the front of the Soul is nicely curved, giving it a slightly more aerodynamic look.
Insetting the turn signals from the headlights makes for an interesting look.
The 2-liter four-cylinder engine only puts out 142 horsepower, and coupled with the four-speed automatic, performance is a little anemic.
By blackening the A- and B-pillars, Kia accentuates the hat-like look of the roof, with its forward slash.
The suspension of the Soul is more rigid than soft, which helps handling but translates bumps in the road to the cabin rather harshly.
The cargo area isn't huge, but the split folding rear seats allow for flexibility.
The cabin definitely has an economy-car feel. Although there are some exceptional cabin technology, GPS navigation isn't available.
The Exclaim is one of the top trim levels of the Soul and includes things such as this multifunction steering wheel.
As an economy car, Kia keeps the gauges simple. The little screen in the speedometer only shows odometer and trip miles.
The four-speed automatic transmission is a limiting factor with the Soul. The car might get better mileage with an extra cog or two.
The stereo controls are fine for radio but are too simple for browsing music on an iPod.
One delightful feature are these light-up speakers, mounted in the two front doors. They pulse to whatever music is currently playing.
Satellite radio comes standard in this top trim Soul.
The CD player can read MP3 tracks, but the small screen means lots of information scrolling.
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.
The standard audio system is very good, with a 315-watt amp, center channel, and subwoofer.
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.