$4,698 - $6,352

2010 Kia Soul Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2010 Kia Soul was new.


Performance: 7.2

Overall, auto critics say the Soul offers an adequate driving experience, but it's not very exciting or inspiring. Compared to competitors including the Scion xB, the Soul has a somewhat sportier feel. However, downsides to its performance include a sometimes choppy ride, weak engine and unpredictable manual transmission.

  • "The Soul isn't a bad car, but it isn't sporty, despite the fact that our test car was the sport model. The large wheels and stiffer suspension just accentuate its economy car roots on bad roads." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "It's not often that a car's name actually matches its personality. But for the $17,645 Kia Soul Sport, the name fits. The Soul Sport was easily the most fun to drive of the three boxes here." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "The Soul's saving grace is its surprisingly low 2875-lb curb weight, which could help it generate some more impressive numbers with a bump in power. Still, its performance is just behind the xB and ahead of the Cube." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The base Soul comes with a 1.6-liter 122-horsepower four-cylinder engine available only with a five-speed manual transmission. The other trims get a 2.0-liter 142-horsepower four-cylinder engine with a choice of the five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. Few reviewers have tested the smaller engine, but find the 2.0-liter engine adequate enough. However, some criticize the manual transmission. According to Kia, the base model achieves 26/31 mpg city/highway. Higher-end models achieve 24/30 mpg city/highway with either transmission.

  • "The 2.0-liter engine has decent torque and midrange punch, but don't try to rev it to the moon as all you really get is noise. Additionally, the five-speed manual gearbox has vague feel and first gear seemingly disappeared on more than one occasion during my drive." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The shifter is vague, sloppy, and notchy. Shifting is no fun, although clutch takeup is light and predictable." -- Car and Driver
  • "We tried out the five-speed manual and the four-speed automatic flavors, both equipped with the up-level, 142-hp, 2.0L engine. While the Soul proved relatively quick and nimble in city traffic, on the highway, the engine could use a bit more pluck and the automatic transmission an extra gear." -- Motor Trend
  • "We don't know how strong the 1.6-liter model is likely to feel, but the 2.0-liter is more than adequate, blessed with a broad spread of torque that makes high engine speed largely unnecessary." -- Popular Mechanics

Handling and Braking

The Soul's handling receives some mixed reviews. While some critics find it competitive with other hatchbacks, and even sporty by comparison, others say its handling is sub-par.

  • "With a short, 100.4-inch wheelbase, you'd expect harsh ride that makes logs of tar marks in the road. Nope. Soul minimizes bumps and bruises." -- Chicago Tribune
  • "Unfortunately, the Soul's cost-saving conception inflicts it with road manners that aren't too far removed from those of the fairly uncouth Rio. Initial damping has been tightened, but the resultant ride can verge on cruel over imperfect pavement. And although you'd expect such stiffness to pay off in the curves, the Soul's tallish, mini-minivan body wallows and wobbles during spirited driving." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Despite the sporty look and our tester's Sport trim level and retuned suspension, the Soul exhibited a bit more body roll than expected and posted an average grip of 0.83 g around our skidpad. ... One quibble we have is with the Soul's steering, which feels heavy at low speeds and lighter at high speeds -- not exactly a great combination." -- Motor Trend
  • "With strut suspension up front and a transverse torsion-beam rear axle, the Soul Sport model proved agile yet stable, giving it turning that made it somewhat harsh on normal roads, yet surprisingly compliant on knotty canyon routes." -- Popular Mechanics

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