The 2013 Kia Soul sees only a few minor changes, but those changes should appeal to just about any shopper. Most will recognize the Soul as the boxy, little cube-like wagon that brings thoughts of the MINI Cooper to mind; others will recognize it from the hamster commercials. No matter how you remember it, the 2013 Kia Soul offers an economical alternative to those looking for comfort and cargo space.
Pure speed, exhilarating handling, and thrilling power are not what you'll get from the 2013 Kia Soul (sorry if I got your hopes up), but you will receive one of the most economical alternatives to the compact sedan available today. It offers an array of vibrant paint choices which, coupled with its exceptional safety scores, also makes it a top choice among parents shopping for those first-time drivers.
"When it launched in 2009, the Soul sparked Kia's design revolution, and the 2013 Kia Soul still makes no apologies for its funky looks and brash attitude. Rather, the Soul touts its youthful nature and is proud of its status as a low-cost alternative to hatchbacks and traditional economy cars." (Kelley Blue Book)
"The Soul is particularly roomy considering its small footprint. Its 164-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder and six-speed automatic deliver decent acceleration and returned 26 mpg overall in our tests. But stopping distances were quite long. Cabin access is easy, with abundant head room and a spacious rear seat. Expect a noisy interior and a stiff ride. Handling is fairly nimble and secure." (Consumer Reports)
"The 2013 Kia Soul might be inexpensive, but this certainly doesn't mean it's cheap. Even for the entry-level model, you get solid build quality, a peppy direct-injected engine and an audio system that boasts satellite radio and an iPod hookup." (Edmunds)
"Like the Scion xB and Nissan Cube, Kia's funky urban box combines quirky, hip styling with practical passenger and cargo space. Soul is a bit more stable and relaxed in highway driving compared to some subcompacts, but its fun-to-drive character might shine through best in urban driving." (Consumer Guide)
While the economy of the Soul is praised, it seems that comfort is sacrificed as a result. "I purchased this vehicle back in October 2012. I put on a lot of miles on the weekends and needed the economy. I did not anticipate the uncomfortable seating. For short trips, an hour or less, [it's] not bad. Anything longer than that [is] very uncomfortable. Makes me dislike the vehicle because I hate sitting in it. Stuck with it now." (Owner review from Kevin in Minnesota, KBB)
Others find it suits their every need. "I just bought the Kia Soul...and am in love with it! Didn't have a problem keeping up with other vehicles on the highway, actually had to stop myself from going over the speed limit because the drive is so smooth that I didn't notice how fast I was going. The inside is beautiful with 2-toned leather seating and a large navigation/radio screen and there is more than enough room to accommodate my family of 4." (Owner review from Aly in Florida, KBB)
"The manual transmission on the Kia Soul is quite fun to drive. It is easy to switch gears there is even an indicator to tell you when to switch gears. I find it to be the right size. I am able to haul around groceries or large items. Its compact size makes it easy to park and navigate narrower streets." (Owner review from Edmunds)
The 2013 Kia Soul is available in three trim levels - Base, +, and !. No, those aren't typos. Kia's trim levels are punctuation-based and the features included mark the very significance of that punctuation. The Base model starts the shindig off with full power accessories, air conditioning, a trip computer, Bluetooth phone connectivity, cloth interior, and a four-speaker sound system with CD player, satellite radio, and iPod/USB/Aux connectivity. Opt for the automatic transmission and receive keyless entry, rear privacy glass, cruise control, and a height-adjustable driver's seat.
The next level up, the +, offers 16-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, interior accents, center console storage bins, and two extra speakers for the sound system. An Audio upgrade isn't standard, but its availability (at an extra cost, of course) will get you automatic headlights, a rearview camera, the Uvo hands-free media player, and an eight-speaker Infinity sound system with HD radio and tricolor speaker lights.
The highest model you can get in the 2013 Kia Soul lineup is the !. Yes, the !. Apparently that's the facial expression it's supposed to provoke upon seeing its available features. And while naming it the !!! may have crossed their minds, it would've just been too arrogant. As it is, the ! trim level gives 18-inch alloy wheels, sunroof, power-folding outer mirrors, upgraded headlights, foglights, two-tone upholstery, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and the Audio upgrade package. A premium package, available only on the ! trim level, adds keyless ignition/entry, leather upholstery, heated front seats, automatic climatic control and a navigation system with real-time traffic and a touchscreen interface.
The interior of the 2013 Kia Soul is exactly what one would expect from the economy class. It is festooned with hard plastics and sharper corners. However, it does possess more standard features than most competitors and cargo space is top of the class. The front seats offer ample head- and legroom for nearly all passengers, but the rearward-sloping roof cuts down headroom for taller riders.
The cockpit features a triple-eye tunnel display with well-lit gauges. The numbers on some of the gauges are rather small but most controls are otherwise easily read and quite accessible. Visibility is a major complaint among experts and owners alike, owing to the exceptionally wide roof pillars all the way around the vehicle. They create several blind spots, especially in the rear.
Behind the rear seats the Soul offers 19 cubic feet of cargo space. This number is bigger than just about any sedan you can find in any class, and it grows to 53 cubes with the 60/40-split rear seats folded down. This isn't quite as cavernous as the Scion xB, but it is still impressive for such a petite wagon. The Uvo infotainment system is a nice feature that provides phone, iPod, and other devices connectivity via voice command.
There are two engine options for the 2013 Kia Soul, both being small four-cylinders. The first, the 1.6L, gives 136 horsepower and 123 ft.-lbs. of torque. A six-speed manual transmission with hill-start assist comes standard, but a six-speed automatic is optional. The EPA estimates fuel efficiency to be 25/30 mpg (city/highway) and these numbers are backed up by several owners.
The second engine option is the 2.0L four-cylinder that runs on 164 horsepower and 148 ft.-lbs. of torque. Transmission choices are the same for this engine but the ! trim level offers only the automatic. While it is no speed demon, the Soul's precise handling and peppy acceleration make for a fun little jaunt around town. Steering remains tight at higher speeds but suspension has a tendency to get bumpier in those same situations.
The brake pedal is firm and braking capability is slightly above average for this segment. All in all, the Kia Soul offers exactly what it boasts to offer. It doesn't provide excitement, it provides economy. It doesn't provide fashion, it provides flair. And it doesn't provide speed, it provides security. It offers everything one would expect from an entry-level compact SUV.
Safety & Reliability
Standard safety features on the 2013 Kia Soul include four-wheel antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front airbags, side curtain airbags, hill-start assist, and active front head restraints. It earned honors as an IIHS Top Safety Pick, garnering perfect scores of Good in all IIHS crash tests. The government gave it a rating of four out of five stars overall and in front crash tests, but it did earn five stars in side-impact protection.
There are currently no major recalls on the Kia Soul, and it boasts one of the best manufacturer's warranties available at 5-years/60,000 miles and 10-years/100,000 miles of powertrain protection. MSRP on the 2013 Kia Soul ranges from $14,400 to a still-reasonable $19,900.
|4dr Crossover 6A||4 Cylinder||FWD||16200|
|4dr Crossover 6M||4 Cylinder||FWD||14400|
|! 4dr Crossover||4 Cylinder||FWD||19900|
|+ 4dr Crossover 6A||4 Cylinder||FWD||17700|
|+ 4dr Crossover 6M||4 Cylinder||FWD||16700|