2013 Kia Soul
2013 Kia Soul
2010 Kia Soul 4u Burner
2010 Kia Soul 4u
2013 Kia Soul, 2010 Kia Soul 4u Burner, 2010 Kia Soul 4u. Click image to enlarge

Review by Justin Pritchard

Vehicle Type: Compact hatchback

History/Description:  The original-generation Kia Soul was on sale to us Canucks from 2010 to 2013 model years inclusive, before a new, AJAC award-winning model was launched under a full redesign to advance the affordable, funky and flexible five-door model to new levels.

Basically, the Kia Soul is a five-door, four-cylinder powered hatch that thinks it’s a larger vehicle. With looks designed to stand out, and a surprisingly spacious interior with flexible seating and cargo room, Soul quickly became popular with pet owners, small families, single professionals and retirees alike. Key competitors include high-flexibility compacts like the Dodge Caliber, Honda Fit, Mazda 5 and Toyota Matrix.

Soul’s designers and engineers attacked wasted space on board, creating 2,890 L of passenger volume and over 1,500 L of cargo capacity with the rear seats folded. A low load floor, high-lift tailgate and quick-folding seatbacks made it easy to load up with gear or shopping, and a tall, commanding seating position and good outward visibility added confidence for many drivers.

Feature content included automatic climate control and heated seats, as well as hands-free, voice-commanded operation of numerous vehicle systems, premium audio systems, satellite radio, speaker-mounted mood-lighting, push-button start, remote entry, a sunroof and plenty more. There’s even a driver-selectable Active Eco mode that allows for even more fuel-efficient operation from Soul’s four-cylinder engine lineup.

Engines / Trim: In Canada, Soul was offered in no fewer than six trim levels ranging from the standard Soul 1.6L to the 2.0 4u Retro to the 2.0 4u Luxury. Each trim level is styled and equipped differently, creating appeal to a wide variety of shoppers and budgets. A full range of affordable factory add-on accessories was available, too. Translation? You’ll have no trouble finding a Soul that’s just right for your exact tastes in the used market. Engines included a 1.6L four cylinder with 122 hp, or a 2.0L unit with 142 ponies. Later, the powertrain lineup came in line with other Kia and Hyundai models, offering identical engine displacements but a rise in power to 138 and 164 hp, respectively. Look for manual or automatic transmissions.

Trim grade nomenclature saw the Soul range populated from basic to loaded with models including the 1.6, 2.0L 2u, 2.0L 4u, 2.0L 4u Retro, 2.0L 4u Burner and 2.0L 4u SX models.

What Owners Like: No surprises here. Owners of the Soul report positively on the styling, overall feature-content bang for the buck, fun-to-drive maneuverability, easy-to-park factor, and handy, flexible storage space. Heated seats are said to be powerful, and fuel mileage is even reported to be very decent, too. Some owners even say the Soul handles nicely and is fun to drive.

2010 Kia Soul 4u Burner2010 Kia Soul 4u Burner2010 Kia Soul 4u Burner
2010 Kia Soul 4u Burner. Click image to enlarge

What Owners Dislike: Common gripes include sometimes klutzy-feeling transmissions, smaller-than-expected rear cargo space, limited engine performance in the earlier, lower-output models, and higher-than-expected levels of wind noise.

Here’s what some owners on autoTRADER.ca are saying.

The Test Drive: Going after a model with the manual? Start your test-drive with a check of the clutch and shifter – ensuring there’s no slipping from the clutch and that the shifter moves freely between all gears with no issue. Coax slippage from the clutch by applying full throttle in third or fourth gear at low revs, which loads the clutch up heavily.

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