The cleverly designed compact 4-door hatchback wagon is easy on fuel, keenly priced and packed with features…

The Kia Soul is a trendy styling concept that somehow makes a roomy and practical boxy shape look funky.

The cleverly designed compact 4-door hatchback wagon is easy on fuel, keenly priced and packed with features. Soul blew away its main (mini-box) competitors (from Honda, Nissan and Scion), when introduced for the 2010 model year.

Used buyers will also be pleased to learn that, so far, the Soul has proved to very reliable and there’s a reasonably good supply of them available on the market. You do have to be sold on its polarizing (love/hate) looks and appreciate the functional aspects of its design. On the inside, there is lots of room for taller passengers and 60/40 split-folding rear seats even allow you to stuff in a bike, or large golf bags.

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“Kia: Taking on the Small Cars from the Big Guys” from Zack Spencer, Driveway Canada (April 3, 2014)

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The base engine in a 2010 Kia Soul is a (122-hp) 1.6-litre four-cylinder and it only came as a single trim edition with a five-speed manual transmission. Far more popular is the (142-hp) 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, which came with a five-speed manual or an optional four-speed automatic transmission and in four trim levels 2u, 4u, 4u Retro, and 4u Burner.

Even a basic Soul comes with heated power mirrors, heated seats, a tilt steering column, power windows and locks, wheel-mounted audio controls, Bluetooth connectivity and rear washer/wiper. Moving up the trim levels can add 16-inch or 18-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, cruise control, patterned seat inserts, keyless entry, dash-mounted tweeter speakers, door-mounted LED mood speakers and all sorts of unique extras to enhance the funky-car experience.

Standard safety features include six airbags and anti-whiplash active front head restraints. Electronic stability control and 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes come with 2u or higher trim levels. Soul also got a “Top Safety Pick” classification rating, even though it was rated poor in its new “small overlap” crash test that simulates a front corner collision with a pole or another vehicle.

The base 1.6L model got four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control for the 2011 model year, making these features standard on all models. The outside door handles were also changed (from flip-up) to a grip type and a Luxury trim line was added. This new top-line trim added body-colour bumpers, a rear-view camera, automatic climate control, Smart Key with pushbutton start, leather upholstery and a centre console armrest.

Changes to Soul for the 2012 model year included interior and exterior styling enhancements, but were primarily mechanical. Even though displacement figures remained the same, the new engines are more powerful and a fuel-saving (hybrid-like) Idle Stop-and-Go feature was an option. New manual and automatic transmissions also came with six-speed gear ratios.

In addition to extra power a 2012 of newer Soul’s fuel consumption is lower. The 2.0 litre engine with an automatic transmission is rated at 7.9 L/100km city and 5.9 L/100km on the highway. While that’s a noteworthy improvement, a similar pre-2012 edition Kia Soul (rated at 8.5 city and 6.6 highway) is also a frugal fuel user.

Soul was essentially a carry-over model for the 2013 model year, other than a revised grille (with new chrome accents) and a re-styled “Kia” badge. This was also the last production year of the first generation Soul.

An all-new Kia Soul was introduced for the 2014 model year.

Though the Soul was designed to attract mainly attract younger buyers, the fuel efficiency and practical characteristics of a Kia Soul can appeal to any age of buyer – if they like its looks.

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Price Check: 2010 – 2013 Kia Soul (August 2014)

Year                    Edition                                                 Expect to Pay Today

2010                  2.0L 4U                                                     $11,000 to $14,000

2011                  2.0L 4U                                                     $13,000 to $16,000

2012                  2.0L 4U                                                     $15,000 to $18,000

2013                  2.0L 4U                                                     $18,000 to $22,000

Prices vary depending on a used vehicle’s condition, mileage, usage and history. A complete mechanical check should always be performed by a reliable auto technician prior to purchase.

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Safety Recalls: 2010 to 2013 Kia Soul:

2010:The wiring harness used for the Advanced Lighting Speakers located in the front door trim panels may have been improperly soldered and an electrical short may result in a fire. Dealers will replace the affected harness.

2010/2011: The stop lamp switch may fail and cause intermittent operation of the brake lights. Dealers will replace the switch.

Contact: bob [dot] mchugh [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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