Consider the Kia Soul the mid-point between compact hatchbacks and compact SUVs. It's priced and sized liked a hatchback, but you sit up higher and it can haul bulkier items like SUVs. Importantly, though, it has a lot more style and character than you'd expect from either.
You also get lots of stuff and cabin quality you wouldn't expect from a Kia Soul. Even the base Soul has Bluetooth, satellite radio and an iPod interface. This loaded Soul includes the, I'm not kidding, Whole Shebang Package, which piles on cooled leather seats, a heated steering wheel, a panoramic sunroof and more.
Now, this Soul's price is hefty, but an equally equipped compact SUV would be 5-10,000 more. How much is extra trunk space or all-wheel drive worth to you?
You don't have to get the Whole Shebang to get access to Kia's excellent electronics. The navigation system's enormous screen looks great and its audio controls couldn't be easier to use. There's also a smaller screen available without nav that makes doing even complicated tasks relatively simple.
The audio system also boasts some style with these dash-top speakers and the multi-color speaker lights that pulse to your music. Small details, but they add character. You can't get them in a Honda CR-V or Toyota Corolla.
The Soul feels more like a small SUV to drive than a compact hatchback. And, there are two engines available. The base Soul gets a 130-hp four-cylinder and the Soul + and ! get a 164-hp four. Since both engines get 26 mpg, price would be the only reason to get the smaller one. However, 26 mpg is actually lower than some compact SUVs, let alone compact hatchbacks and sedans.
Fuel economy aside, there's a lot to like about this Kia Soul. Whether you're looking at a compact car or SUV, it's worth checking out. For more information about the Kia Soul and its rivals, go to Edmunds.com.