The 2013 Kia Soul earns an above average Total Car Score for the Economy Cars segment.
Kia’s quirky, funky Soul went through a significant freshening last year, gaining a 2.0-liter engine option and a new look to the front and rear sheetmetal. Changes, then, for 2013 are minor, for the most part – new exterior colors, redesigned Kia badges front and rear, and the addition of Bluetooth and audio controls to the steering wheels of base models.
We say “for the most part” because there is a new engineering feature for the model year: An Eco package for Soul models equipped with the 2.0-liter engine and automatic transmission adds a stop/start feature and low-rolling-resistance tires to bring the bigger engine’s fuel economy ratings up to those of the base 1.6-liter.
Kia has been wise not to mess too much with a good thing. The Soul is one of those rare cars that appeals to all kinds of buyers – young, old, singles, families, in fact anyone who needs a budget-minded runabout but wants something that stands out from the crowd.
But it would be wrong to think of the Soul merely as another econobox in, well, a unique-looking box. The Soul is nicely appointed, even in base trim, and can be ordered with high-end options like navigation and leather upholstery. Its warranty coverage is outstanding, crash-test scores are excellent, and its road manners are good enough to please most critics – uncommon traits in a vehicle with a starting MSRP of less than $15,000.
The 2013 Kia Soul is a four-door front-wheel-drive hatchback that seats five passengers and is available in three trim levels.
The base Soul model is powered by a 1.6-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engine that makes 138 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque. It can be paired with either a standard six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic transmission.
The engine offered in Soul+ and Soul! models is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder producing 164 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. It is backed by either the standard six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic in the Soul+, while the Soul! trim gets just the automatic transmission.
Base Soul models roll on 15-inch steel wheels and are equipped with cloth upholstery, air conditioning, a tilt/telescope steering column, power door locks and windows, and an AM/FM/CD/MP3/satellite radio audio system with USB and auxiliary input jacks.
The Soul+ adds 16-inch alloy wheels, power mirrors, remote keyless entry, Bluetooth connectivity and tweeter speakers for the audio system.
The Soul! is equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a power sunroof, automatic headlamps, the UVO infotainment system, a backup camera, and an audio upgrade to a premium Infinity system.
A Premium Package available for Soul! models bundles leather upholstery, heated front seats, automatic climate control, push-button start and a navigation system (which replaces the UVO system).
The EPA rates the 2013 Kia Soul with the 1.6-liter engine and either transmission at 27 mpg city, 35 mpg highway and 30 mpg combined. The 2.0-liter Soul with either transmission dips just a bit to 26/34/29, though the optional Eco package brings those numbers back up to 27/35/30.
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