NEW FOR 2010:

– All-new model

An all-new model for 2010, the Kia Soul is a “tall wagon” that arrived at showrooms almost unchanged from the concept vehicle originally shown.

Based on the Kia Rio, the Soul is available with a 1.6-litre four-cylinder that comes strictly with a five-speed manual transmission, or with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder with five-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic transmission. The 1.6-litre comes in a single trim line, with optional air conditioning; the 2.0-litre comes as the 2u, 4u, 4u Retro, and 4u Burner.

Features on the 1.6-litre include 15-inch steel wheels, heated power mirrors, body-colour exterior door handles, front and rear mud guards, heated black cloth seats, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, tilt steering column, external temperature gauge, power locks, CD/MP3 stereo with four speakers, auxiliary input and wheel-mounted controls, Bluetooth connectivity, power windows with express driver’s down, rear cargo under-floor storage tray, anti-whiplash active front head restraints, variable intermittent wipers, and rear washer/wiper. Air conditioning can be added as an option for $1,000.

The 2u adds 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, electronic stability control, traction control, roof rails, fender-integrated turn signals, privacy glass, “Soul” pattern seat inserts, driver’s seat height adjustment, keyless entry, dash-mounted tweeter speakers, cruise control, three 12-volt power outlets, and cargo net. The optional automatic transmission also includes a driver’s seat armrest.

The 4u adds 18-inch alloy wheels, sport-tuned suspension, power sunroof, fog lamps, chrome exterior door handles, leather-wrapped wheel, metallic interior accents, premium audio with subwoofer, door-mounted LED mood speakers, and Sirius satellite radio.

The 4u Retro adds hounds-tooth pattern seat inserts, and two-tone black and beige dash and door trim.

The 4u Burner builds on the 4u and adds rear spoiler, front and rear “Burner” style bumpers, “Eyeline” front turn signals, red seat inserts, and two-tone red and black dash and door trim.

The first of the new “square” compact cars to the Canadian market, the Soul will be joined by the Nissan Cube and Scion xB. Its shape makes the most of its tiny footprint, while its long list of features combined with an inexpensive price-tag makes it very appealing. It’s also aimed squarely at younger buyers, with an emphasis on music and connectivity, and the available and very cool “mood” speakers that pulsate with the stereo.

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