Kia Soul Review
The 2011 Kia Soul ranks 20 out of 33 Affordable Small Cars. This ranking is based on our analysis of 30 published reviews and test drives of the Kia Soul, and our analysis of reliability and safety data.
Having debuted in 2010, the little has changed for the 2011 Kia Soul. It still has a quirky exterior with fun color options, a hip interior and lackluster performance.
Other than the Scion xB and Nissan Cube, there are few cars that share the 2011 Kia Soul’s funky shape. Kia uses this box car’s hip style, unique exterior colors and affordable price to target young buyers. While the automotive press is wooed by the Soul’s fresh look, they complain about two characteristics: its small cargo space and its less-than-lively sport trim.
The Soul’s pep-less performance hasn’t inhibited its success in the industry. The Kia Soul has received a slew of awards. The insurance industry named the 2010-11 models “Top Safety Picks.” Popular Mechanics gave it an Automotive Excellence Award. AAA even named the Soul a Top Pick for Dog Owners.
In addition to its good reputation, the Soul also offers a range of interior features that distinguish it from class competitors. Depending on the trim and options you select, you can get flashy red accents, USB and auxiliary input jacks, SIRIUS Satellite Radio and Bluetooth hands-free technology.
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. Before you buy a Soul, check with the dealer to make sure the problem has been fixed.Other Cars to Consider
If you like the Kia Soul’s unique shape, there are other boxy cars on the market with the same appeal. Although it’s more expensive than the Soul, the Scion xB has bold exterior styling that reviewers like. At a base price of $16,000, some say it doesn’t drive as well as the Soul. Also at 22/28 mpg city/highway, its fuel economy is one of the worst in the class. But if you’re after space, the Scion xB has 13.5 more cubic feet of trunk space than the Kia Soul.
The Nissan Cube is another square lookalike. It’s a tad more expensive than the Soul — $690 to be exact — and has poor fuel economy. Its handling and maneuvering capabilities are better than the Soul’s, and it was also named a “Top Safety Pick” in 2010. The Cube’s exterior, however, is quirkier than the Soul’s and will turn off some buyers.
The Soul is a hatchback, but it doesn’t offer lots of storage space. The Honda Fit isn’t square in shape, but it’s a hatchback that’s cheaper than the Scion xB and has an impressive amount of storage: 57.3 cubic feet with the seats folded flat.
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.
“So throw the Kia Soul in with the other fun-to-look-at cars like the Chrysler PT Cruiser, Scion xB, Honda Element, and the Mini. Just make sure you know that the fun is in the styling and the price point, not the driving dynamics, much like most of its competition.” — Automobile Magazine
“The Soul isn’t the vehicle that will float all of Kia’s boats to fame and fortune — there’s a limit to what can be accomplished for less than 18 grand. But it is a practical, upbeat, errand hopper whose fun-to-drive quotient isn’t in the basement.” — Car and Driver
“It’s a pretty good road runner designed for a new breed of customer who wants enough head room to wear a fedora, good enough fuel economy to avoid weekly fill-ups and something cheap enough to actually afford.” — Detroit News
“For the Kia’s first-car audience, fun means being able to pile your friends in the back — and the vast rear doors and large back seat make that easy — and heading out for an affordable night of self-inflicted hearing damage. Fun means a warranty that won’t expire until after you get out of graduate school. Fun means being able to make your car payment. Fun means affording the gas.” — Los Angeles Times
“… a practical transportation option that is fun to drive within stylish packaging.” — San Francisco Chronicle
Soul Performance – 7.1 (Good)
The 2011 Kia Soul’s performance doesn’t match its quirky exterior, and most reviewers have mixed feelings about the Soul’s driving capabilities. However, the automotive press says that it’s not meant to be a performance car. The Soul, however, is somewhat fun to drive and is sportier than the competition. Detroit News says: “It never struck me as powerful. Zippy, maybe, but never potent.”
Soul Exterior – 8.6 (Very Good)
The 2011 Kia Soul is all about looks, and the automotive press has fallen for the Soul. It’s boxy and unique — even if it does resemble the Scion xB and the Nissan Cube. For an even more unique look, Kia offers fun colors and plenty of exterior add-ons.
Soul Interior – 8.8 (Very Good)
The Kia Soul’s interior packs just as much punch as its stylish profile. “Interior packaging is one of the Soul’s strong suits,” says AutoWeek. “The dash features a center switch pod with nice, big knobs. Some of the surfaces feel a bit hard, but the finish looks great for this price range, and the seats are impressive.” Read More
Soul Safety – 9.3 (Excellent)
The 2011 Kia Soul does very well in tests with the government and insurance industry, which named the Soul a “Top Safety Pick” for 2010. Read More
Soul Reliability – 5.0 (Mediocre)
The 2011 Kia Soul reliability score shown is the Predicted Reliability rating provided by J.D. Power and Associates. This score is based on trending the past three years of historical initial quality and dependability data from J.D. Power’s automotive studies, specifically the Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) and the Initial Quality Study (IQS). The 2011 Kia Soul comes with a five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty.