By David Colman
Hypes: Rocks the Cute Scale
Gripes: Bouncy Ride, No Manual Available on !
The happy Soul enters its 4th year of production in mildly revised form. This year, you can opt for the base model Soul, a step-up version designated Plus (+), or the full featured Soul Exclaim (!) which I tested.
In view of the fact that top shelf Souls have escalated in price from $17,190 in 2011 to $23,575 for this year’s loaded !, your exclamation might be limited to the steep price creep. But once you’ve spent a couple of days behind the slightly raked, multi-function steering wheel of this best Soul Kia makes, you’ll look at the entry price as a bargain rather than a hurdle.
Unlike the base model, which utilizes a 1.6 liter straight 4 to make 138hp, both the + and ! models bump displacement to 2 liters worth of inline 4 making 164hp. Ironically, the base motor is technologically more sophisticated than the optional version because it boasts direct fuel injection rather than multi-point injection. The base and + versions are available with either 6-speed manual or automatic transmissions, while the ! offers only the automatic. The base Soul weighs just 2,615 lbs. compared to the automatic ! which scales in at 2,778 lbs.