Should a Mini Cooper and Honda Element get together and produce an offspring, our guess is that it would be very much like Kia’s hot new urban passenger vehicle the Soul.

Let’s begin with its unique look. Soul’s low, wide stance is paired with an angled window line, rounded nose and large flared back headlamps, a friendly face and exuberant personality. Available in four trims, Soul, Soul+, Soul! (exclaim) and Soul sport, pricing for the versatile five door will begin at $13,300¹ for the base trim, while Soul+ starts at $14,950 and tops out at $17,100 when all options are included. Our test vehicle was the Soul Exclaim.

The base Soul offers plenty of standard features: a chrome-accented grille, clear lens auto-off headlamps, solar glass, black door handles and side mirrors, body-colored front and rear fascias with black inserts, black bodyside molding, rear wiper/washer, variable intermittent windshield wipers. The Soul! adds as standard equipment a power sunroof, fog lamps, 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped with P225/45R18 tires. The dynamic Soul sport builds off of the Soul+ features and adds side sills, rear spoiler, 18-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps and unique front and rear fascias, wholly personifying the sporty, urban look Soul embodies.

Inside the cabin is where Soul really shows its power to surprise. While Soul offers a relatively small footprint, it offers a surprisingly spacious interior. Passengers will find comfort in the roomy cabin that offers 40.2/39.6 inches of headroom (front/rear), shoulder room of 55.2/55.1 inches, 42.1/39.0 inches of legroom and a passenger volume of 102.3 cubic feet. All five adult passengers will really find ingress and egress simple and effortless, credited to tall doors and a high seating position. Each Soul offers its own personality credited to multiple options for interiors with different colors, fabrics and audio system packages available for selection.

Additional standard interior features that make the Soul stand out include air conditioning, tilt steering column, power door locks, power windows with driver’s side auto-down, external temperature display and digital clock in the radio, an upper storage bin, dual-level glove box, 12-volt power outlet, rear window defroster, cargo area light and a dome light with delay out. Soul is stylishly appointed with black cloth seats (ours was highlighted with a black and white hounds tooth). A 60/40 split-folding rear seat offers multiple seating and cargo arrangements depending on driver and passenger needs.

Soul’s base engine is 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine, mated to a five-speed manual transmission, which produces 122 horsepower and 115 pound-feet of torque. Our test Exclaim was powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. A five-speed manual is available. The 2.0 engine produces 142 horsepower with 137 pound-feet of torque, and is standard on Soul+, Soul! and Soul sport models.

The EPA rates the 2.0 engine at 24/30 mpg. As seems to have become the norm, our numbers were different. We never achieved 30 on highway runs, besting out at 29.9, but our city mileage was much better than EPA numbers, since we never saw below 29 MPG.

At first glance baby boomers and the like might over look the Soul. Don’t. Turn off the interior flashing red mood lights, get over the in your face styling and we think you will find like us, that the Soul is one happy car with an exceptionally affordable price, that is a real joy to live with on a daily basis. Plus it is backed by a 10 year, 100,000 mile limited warranty.

The highest complement we can pay a vehicle is that we hate to see it leave our driveway. We still have a sad look on our face, after the Soul’s departure.

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STATS:

  • Horsepower: 142 hp/ 137 lb ft of torque
  • Pricing begins at $17,900 $18,595 as tested.
  • MPG: 24 city / 30 highway
  • Regular fuel
  • Seating: Five