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Sunday, February 20, 2011

2011 Kia Soul

2011 Kia Soul
2011 Kia Soul
As far back as 2005, Kia tasked itself with becoming Korea's sporty automaker, leaving parent Hyundai to become a more affordable luxury brand.

Since that time, Kia has steadily introduced a slew of greatly improved products, but nothing remotely "sporty" has hit showroom floors. At first blush, things aren't promising – the Soul is front-drive, modestly powered, tallish, and squared-off in an economy-car-tall-wagon-crossover-looking sort of way. Most people will probably find the Soul either irrepressibly cool or simply fail to "get" its style altogether – there's no middle ground to be had. Quite literally, this is by design – Kia has architected its Soul to elicit the same strong love/hate emotions that went on to fuel blockbusters like the Chrysler 300 and the original Scion xB. Us?

Step inside, and oh, my... there's that club kid again. Funky shapes, patterns and retina-flambéeing colored plastic abounds inside. Like a skate punk that hides a straight-A report card from his mates, there's a practicality streak inside the Soul. The Soul's boxy form also pays dividends in the form of good usable interior space, with spacious accommodations for two up front and belts for three in the second row. Total interior cargo space is good at 53.4 cu-ft (rear 60/40-split seats folded flat), but others, like the Scion xB trounce it (69.9 cubes). Soul Power(train)

So the KIA Soul is a utile, fashion-forward device, but what's under the hood? Side Note: the engine compartment looks a bit unfinished and agrarian, without so much as a plastic cover to hide the oily bits.

For the record, Kia is also offering a base 1.6-liter four-cylinder model paired exclusively with a five-speed manual transmission, and that combination is good for 122 horsepower (at 6,300 rpm) and 113 lb-ft of torque (at 4,200 rpm).

Having debuted in 2010, the little has changed for the "2011 Kia Soul". Other than the Scion xB and Nissan Cube, there are few cars that share the 2011 Kia Soul’s funky shape. The Kia Soul has received a slew of awards. AAA even named the Soul a Top Pick for Dog Owners.
Before you buy a Soul, you should know that Kia recalled about 24,000 Soul vehicles to fix interior lighting panels that can cause fires. Although it’s more expensive than the Soul, the Scion xB has bold exterior styling that reviewers like. The Soul is a hatchback, but it doesn’t offer lots of storage space. Details: 2011 Kia Soul

The Soul comes in four well-equipped trim levels -- a base edition, the Soul Plus (+), Soul Exclaim (!), and Soul Sport. The Soul was new for 2010, and the "2011 Kia Soul "is very similar to last year’s model.

Inside, the Soul isn't nearly as groundbreaking. Most Soul wagons will sport a four-cylinder engine with 2.0 liters of displacement, 142 horsepower, and 137 pound-feet of torque; but there's also a 1.6-liter four-cylinder making 122 horsepower and 115 pound-feet of torque. All Souls ride atop a conventional MacPherson strut front and torsion-beam rear suspension, and they have four-wheel disc brakes. Base and mid-line Souls wear 15- and 16-inch wheels. The Soul Sport leads the performance pack with 18-inch wheels and different suspension tuning. The boxy exterior of the 2011 Kia Soul promises a versatile, roomy, almost van-like interior, and it delivers on that promise—with interior space for five (or four adults) or, with the back seats folded forward, some very impressive cargo space. Dimensionally it checks in at 161.6 inches overall, 70.3 inches wide, 63.4 inches high, and it has a 100.4-inch wheelbase.

The front seats also have active head restraints, which help curb whiplash. The awesome-sounding (optional) 315-watt sound system and well-integrated Bluetooth add to that impression. Options on various Soul models include a sunroof, that sound-system upgrade, and more than 60 accessories, from styling add-ons to interior trim. Two different Special Edition Soul models will be offered in the "2011 KIA Soul" model year; both will be based on the Soul+ trim and include automatic climate control plus unique exterior styling and special accessories.

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