$6,483 - $7,558

2012 Kia Soul Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Kia Soul was new.


Performance: 7.3

Overall, reviewers say that with better highway performance and higher fuel economy ratings, the 2012 Kia Soul will satisfy drivers who need a practical vehicle that can handle passing and merging.

  • "Models with 2.0-liter engine are fine in around-town driving, and confidently merge onto the highway. The 6-speed automatic transmission is smooth and alert." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Of course, the competition is every bit as lethargic, yet unable to deliver the same impressive efficiency." -- Autoblog 

Acceleration and Power

This year, the 2012 Kia Soul gains updated powertrains, and the automotive press says that with these updates, all Soul models are significantly more powerful. The base model is equipped with a new 138-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and a six-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic transmission is optional. The next step up is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 164 horsepower. It’s available on the Soul Plus, with the choice between six-speed manual and automatic transmissions. The Soul Exclaim, the highest trim, has the same engine, but is only available with an automatic transmission. Regardless of transmission choice, models with the 1.6-liter engine average 25/30 mpg city/highway, according to the EPA, and models equipped with the 2.0-liter engine average up to 24/29 mpg. There’s also an Eco Package that increases fuel economy, and those models will average up to 26/31 mpg.

Test drivers are impressed with the improvement in performance from the 2.0-liter engine, and most report that it has plenty of power for highway passing and merging and driving around town, though it’s not the most fun-to-drive model in the class. They particularly like that all the transmissions have six gears.

  • "The six-speed auto is a vast improvement over the four-speed. It shifts quickly-although we did note a slight delay during some downshifts-and its taller final-drive ratio keeps the engine quieter (and more efficient) when cruising." -- Car and Driver
  • "Due to the number of passes performed on the motorways, the six-speed auto stayed busy, gracefully changing to fourth from sixth before shifting into fifth and back into sixth. The process repeated itself numerous times with no fuss, save for more furor from the wailing four-cylinder." -- Motor Trend
  • "Acceleration is decent from a standstill, but still unimpressive on the highway when gearing and aerodynamic drag is working against it - despite the power increase. The six-speed automatic capably keeps the engine in its power band and it climbs grades without wheezing, but there isn't much on tap in the reserve bucket." -- Autoblog

Handling and Braking

Reviewers are pleased with the 2012 Kia Soul’s handling and braking capabilities. They say that the brakes are smooth and confident, and that the Soul hugs corners when it turns, making it a good car for navigating city streets.

  • "Soul is reasonably nimble, with some noticeable body lean in turns. Accurate steering provides good road feel, and the brakes are smooth and strong. Soul's small size and reasonably tight turning radius make for good close-quarters maneuverability." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The steering, in both feel and weight, is light but not overly boosted. Again, this is an economy car and not a track star." -- Autoblog

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