One automaker that has over- achieved in the past few years is the Korean manufacturer known as Kia. Once the target of frequent jokes relating to its vehicles’ appearance, performance, and other attributes, Kia has responded not by defending itself, but by doing what a manufacturer should do: building more attractive and better performing vehicles for a lower price than most other manufacturers. One Kia vehicle that will easily fit within the most confining budgets is the 2012 Kia Soul
. Vehicle Facts and Figures:
The 2012 Kia Soul is a four- door hatchback vehicle with a box- shape design. It is offered in two engine sizes: 1.6 liter, 138 horsepower; and 2.0 liter, 164 horsepower. In addition, there are three trim levels: Base, Plus, and Exclaim. The smaller, 1.6 liter engine is available only with the Base trim level. The other two are offered with the more powerful 2.0 liter engines.
The Kia Soul offers most all of the additional features expected in a modern vehicle, plus a few more. The car is decked out in such sophisticated- sounding features as Electronic Brake- Force Distribution, Electronic Stability Control, Brake Assist for Emergency Stops, Traction Control System, Vehicle Stability Management, and Hill Start Assist Control. These are standard on all models Vehicle Exterior:
The 2012 Kia Soul sports an interesting appearance. Its rectangular box- shaped body slants downward from back to front and the vehicle is certainly an attention- grabbing visual spectacle. The headlights are larger than those of other vehicles and they give the vehicle a distinct look that, combined with the shape of the body, could scare some and intrigue others.
The back of the 2012 Kia Soul features a hatch and again, two very large lights. Privacy glass helps to hide what’s inside the vehicle and the 18- inch alloy wheels (standard on the Exclaim) are attractive and befitting of a vehicle that stands out as a little edgy without going overboard. Vehicle Interior:
Inside the 2012 Kia Soul one will find seating for five with a good deal of comfort for long- range traveling. The vehicle offers push- button starting, automatic headlights, power windows and locks, Bluetooth stereo with USB, and a telescoping steering wheel with audio controls for better convenience. And in the area of safety, the 2012 Kia Soul shows its concern by providing three- point safety belts for all five passengers, dual front airbags, and a full length side curtain airbag.
Those who select the Exclaim trim level will enjoy several extras such as a navigation system, backup camera, Infinity sound system, Sirius Radio, and more. This trim level is priced only a few thousand dollars above the base and many will agree the added cost is worth it. Driving Around:
The 2012 Kia Soul isn’t a vehicle made for speed and fun. Its 1.6 liter and 2.0 liter engines are designed for a more consistent, steady drive, which is exactly what you get. It takes some time to reach highway speeds (relatively speaking, of course), but once there, the vehicle cruises like a charm. The only area that takes getting used to is the steering. With the electronically assisted steering feature, the vehicle tends to want to adjust itself to the straight and narrow. Still, the driver is in control and once you accept this feature, you won’t even notice a difference between it and the car you are driving now.
Braking is swift in the 2012 Kia Soul. With minimal effort, the vehicle comes to a complete stop. The antilock brakes keep the vehicle in check and when you feel the need to stop quickly, you have a feeling of complete confidence. Fuel Economy:
Gasoline efficiency is quite good with the 2012 Kia Soul. The 2.0 liter engine offers city/highway MPG of 26/34 while the 1.6 liter engine is only one MPG better on both counts, with a 27/35 rating. Those who wish to push the fuel economy to higher levels should consider the Eco Package, which increases the MPG levels to 29/36. Final Thoughts:
The 2012 Kia Soul is yet another improved vehicle in the Kia lineup: A parade of vehicles that continue to answer the call from customers and critics for better, more fuel efficient, and more luxurious vehicles sold for a lower than average price. Kia Soul has improved its vehicle from that of 2011 and has made significant improvements since the Kia Soul made its introduction to the United States market a few years ago.
I have only recently become to know the Kia lineup of vehicles and have enjoyed driving around different models of Kia for a week at a time. In days gone by, you couldn’t have paid me to drive a Kia and I wasn’t alone in my feelings. They were so plain, so dull, so less than average that many consumers were hard- pressed to find anything (aside from the price) appealing. But I am here to say that Kia has undergone a complete overall of its vehicles and today, they stand out among the better vehicles on the road for many different reasons that range from appearance to features to price and beyond.
I had the privilege of driving the 2012 Kia Exclaim model for a full week and mine had just about every extra available in this model. At first, I wasn’t sure what the trim level was because all I could find was an exclamation mark, which seemed more like an expression of the vehicle than its actual name. A little research showed that, yes, ! is the actual name of the trim level, but many simply go by the word “Exclaim” to keep things simple.
First impressions of the exterior of any vehicle are always important and when I first saw the 2012 Kia Soul, well, I wasn’t sure how to react. Let’s face it- the rectangular shaped body and those large, bulging lights in the front and back give the vehicle a very quirky appearance. Earlier, I referred to the appearance as “interesting” for lack of a better adjective and also because I just know the appearance is going to produce its share of fans and foes. Some will find the unusual appearance very modern and very cool while others will find it unattractive, even bordering on ugly. My initial feelings lie somewhere in the middle. I wasn’t turned on, but I wasn’t repulsed either. It would take driving the vehicle around for a while to determine whether or not it was worthy of ownership.
Stepping into the driver’s seat, I liked the accessories and the digital console with the backing camera for safer reverse movement. I took a little time to familiarize myself with the vehicle and what was where, then pushed the start button and prepared for takeoff. Adjusting the seat was somewhat surprising because I found that it doesn’t go back very far. At first, I thought the seat was stuck, but I learned that this is as far back as it goes and it is still sufficient for most drivers except, perhaps, those who are exceptionally tall or have very long legs. On the plus side, however, the fact that the seat can only go back so far is good for the rear passengers, for it helps improve rear seat legroom. And the comfort in the back seat is very good- better than that experienced in many other vehicles.
Driving the 2012 Kia Soul around town for a week revealed that it has the ability to easily handle my flat- terrain neighborhood and its design makes it good for making sharp turns. You feel like the vehicle is hugging the curb when you make a turn and it provides a feeling of security. The leather- wrapped steering wheel makes for some nice, firm gripping and the braking is very firm and confident. Taking the Kia Soul for a spin on the highway showed that it can ride with the best of them. Its acceleration isn’t lightning fast, but one must remember that the 2012 Kia Soul is an economy vehicle, not the next entry at the grand prix. Once you accept this fact, you are more apt to accept the acceleration as a part of the vehicle’s personality.
Storage is another area worth mentioning in the 2012 Kia Soul and that is because there is an equal share of good and not so good. You may not even realize it at first, but this vehicle offers additional storage that is out of sight, underneath the floor. There is also a storage compartment right in front of the gear shift and a bi- level glove box. About the only storage- related fact that could be cause for concern is the cargo space in the rear. With the back seats in the upright position and the hatch opened, there is very little space behind the seats- not even enough to haul grocery bags from visit to the supermarket. Fold the seats down, however, and the cargo space expands to more than 53 cubic feet. This is more than enough room to haul the things you would normally haul in a car and I guess the moral of the story is to not take the family along when you go to the grocery store or most anyplace else that will require hauling things back home. If you do, you will be stuck placing shopping bags on the floor of the front and rear seating areas and between or on top of passengers to fit everything inside.
The 2012 Kia Soul seems to have many things going for it, but the one quality that will catch consumers’ attention almost as readily as the appearance is the price. Let’s just say that you may experience the phenomena of sticker shock when you shop for the 2012 Kia Soul, but the shock will be of the reverse variety. Even the decked- out 2012 Kia Soul Exclaim, with all the electronics and extras, is priced below $20,000 and the base model is priced around $14,000. You just don’t find midsize vehicles with price tags like these anymore and the price alone will be reason enough for some to consider this vehicle. I remember inquiring on the price online and couldn’t believe my eyes. A new vehicle priced below $15,000 is almost unheard of nowadays and the price is low enough that many will be able to purchase this vehicle without the need for financing.
Overall, I find the 2012 Kia Soul another solid entry in the Kia lineup and another vehicle that earns enough respect to considering owning in the future. An interesting appearance, good comfort, nice accessories, and a low price tag- these are the qualities you get when you experience the 2012 Kia Soul. Yes, the appearance is an acquired taste, but like brussel sprouts, peas, and broccoli, the benefits to the body are very good once you get past the initial impression. Take the 2012 Kia Soul for a spin if you get the chance, and see how comfortable and inviting an under $20,000 vehicle can be. Be sure to click the links below to read reviews of other Kia vehicles: 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid
2012 Kia Sorento
Amount Paid (US$):
NewModel and Options:
Exclaim 6 Speed Automatic