The 2010 Kia Soul is a practical new four-door hatchback that provides copious passenger space in a well-equipped package that emphasizes value. If you enjoy some quirky exterior styling to go along with those pragmatic charms, the Soul will exude even more appeal. Frisky and with low-effort controls, the 2010 Kia Soul Sport joins a growing cadre of compacts that combine impressive function and frugality in an affordable set of wheels.
Though marketed toward a younger set with a host of colorful customizing options, the all-new Kia Soul will appeal equally to the young-at-heart crowd. Empty nesters will appreciate the extensive warranty and just-right elevated seat height. If boxy cars for less than $20K are your thing, the Soul's not your only choice in the segment, with the new Nissan Cube joining Scion's xB in the angular compact crew. If you prefer your economy and function with a little more swoop, Honda's Fit, Scion's xD and Suzuki's SX4 are also class players.
The 2010 Kia Soul is available with either of two inline-4 engine choices, a 1.6-liter producing 122 horsepower in the base model and a 142-hp 2.0-liter mill in the Soul Plus (+), Soul Exclaim (!) and our Soul Sport (sport) test car. The smaller power plant is available solely with a five-speed manual transmission, while the larger engine can be had with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. Our well-equipped Soul Sport arrived with the five-speed transmission and no options.
The five-speed tranny is functional and shift effort is light, but shifter feel is kindly described as vague. The steering is also light but is quick to respond to driver inputs. Complementing the low steering and shift effort, the 2010 Kia Soul has one of the lightest clutches in recent memory. For a tallish vehicle, body roll is noticeable but not excessive, and the standard 18-inch tires on the Soul Sport provide a secure sense of grip. When combined with the car's responsive steering, this playful tuning adds to the Soul's spritely feel.
At the test track, our Soul Sport scooted to 60 mph in a class-competitive 8.8 seconds, though it feels a bit breathless at higher freeway speeds. It also produced solid braking numbers, halting from 60 mph in 128 feet.
Quick moves at an interstate pace can make the Soul feel twitchy, requiring consistent attention at the wheel. At elevated speeds, the Soul never feels hunkered down, but the Soul Sport's flinty freeway traits pay dividends when it comes to carving up surface streets in the daily grind.
In town, the Soul Sport's quick reflexes make it a responsive and fun machine to squirt through traffic. At low speeds, the Soul's 2.0-liter mill is peppy, with a throttle tuned for energetic stoplight leaps, and the gearing of the five-speed seems well matched to the engine's power band. On the open road, the Soul has plenty of urge to run in the fastest freeway lanes, but a driver's calls for more speed once at this pace are met more with engine sounds than meaningful acceleration.
The 2010 Kia Soul does reasonably well at the pump, earning a 26/31/28 (city/hwy/combined) EPA mpg rating for the base 1.6-liter engine, and an only slightly worse 24/30/26 rating for the 2.0-liter mill. During its brief stay with our staff of leadfoots, the 2.0-liter Soul Sport still averaged 23.4 mpg.
The Soul features wide, tall doors that make it notably easy to enter/exit, and the generous openings also ease child safety seat installation. The elevated roof line gives the Soul loads of headroom, even for rear passengers, allowing a chairlike height for all seats. The rear bench is plenty comfy for two, though three abreast should be limited to kids or short trips.
Legroom is adequate even for rear-seat occupants, with much appreciated toe space under the front seats. The front seat's cushioning is on the soft side, which works well for quick trips, but lacks the support for longer stints behind the wheel. Cabin noise on rough freeway surfaces is on the high side, even for cars in this class.
Ergonomic layout within the Soul's cabin is sensible, with all the major controls logically arranged and within easy reach of the driver. The analog gauges are clean and legible, and with a simple three-knob climate control setup and two-knob audio system, there are no fancy interfaces or navigation systems to decipher. The 2010 Kia Soul Sport features an upgraded audio package with more power and a dedicated subwoofer cleanly cached in the rear cargo area. Audio quality is plenty sufficient for the MP3 generation or baby-boomer talk radio.
The stereo system's simple face with large source buttons hides some impressive functionality, including AM/FM/CD/MP3 capability, plus satellite radio and Bluetooth phone integration. The lower front console features both auxiliary audio and USB inputs for your MP3 player or iPod. Also impressive at the Soul Sport's price point is a leather-wrapped steering wheel deftly peppered with audio, cruise control and Bluetooth phone controls. Full iPod control is available via the head unit or the steering wheel controls.
Thanks to the higher seating position and large greenhouse, overall visibility is excellent. Rear visibility is decent even through the smallish rear glass, and the large side mirrors are eminently functional. The Soul's ride height will appeal to many. A just-right elevated position gives you a secure sense in traffic without making you feel as if you are teetering above the pavement or blocking the sight lines of smaller vehicles.
Unlike several of its competitors, the Soul's interior feels as if it was optimized more for real-world passenger comfort than cargo flexibility. Storage nooks are adequate, with each door getting a shallow bin and bottle slot, and the split-level glovebox is surprisingly deep. The rear load floor is at an easy height for loading, though space behind the rear seats is limited to a very vertical 12 cubic feet. The rear seats tumble forward in a 60/40 split to create more cargo area, but do not lie completely flat.
Design/Fit and Finish
The 2010 Kia Soul's boxy exterior shape provides styling cues that add just enough sass to make it compelling, and help hide the Soul's height. The Sport's standard 18-inch wheels are a perfect fit for its arched wheelwells. Though it may remind you of a giant roller skate, the Soul's odd stance grows on you, as it always looks ready and willing to go romp around the neighborhood.
The Soul Sport's bright two-tone red-black dashboard should be witnessed firsthand before committal, but it's an effective way to cheer up what would otherwise be an expanse of hard black plastic. Panel gaps on the Soul's dash are impressively tight, and Kia has done a fine job of creating the impression of more expensive materials.
The dashboard materials appear soft to the touch (they aren't), but the hard surfaces feel durable and appear likely to maintain their finish. The Soul's switchgear lacks any real sense of heft, but slick little touches such as the rubber-ringed climate control knobs lend a thoughtful appeal.
Who should consider this vehicle
With the Soul Sport's sub-$18K sticker price, recent grads will appreciate the funky styling and impressive tech lineup (iPod, sat radio, Bluetooth). More mature shoppers will likely be swayed by the comfortable seating position and full-coverage warranty.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
Is the 2010 Kia Soul a good car? Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2010 Kia Soul and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2010 Soul featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
Our Review Process All of our reviews are written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.
How do people like the 2010 Kia Soul? Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2010 Kia Soul and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2010 Soul 4.6 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2010 Soul.
Review I love my Soul Plus. It's a blast to drive. It's comfortable. Great sound system and I'm getting between 39 and 41mpg.
How can Edmunds help? Edmunds has deep data on over 6 million new, used, and certified pre-owned vehicles, including rich, trim-level features and specs information like: MSRP, average price paid, warranty information (basic, drivetrain, and maintenance), features (upholstery, bluetooth, navigation, heated seating, cooled seating, cruise control, parking assistance, keyless ignition, satellite radio, folding rears seats ,run flat tires, wheel type, tire size, wheel tire, sunroof, etc.), vehicle specifications (engine cylinder count, drivetrain, engine power, engine torque, engine displacement, transmission), fuel economy (city, highway, combined, fuel capacity, range), vehicle dimensions (length, width, seating capacity, cargo space), car safety, true cost to own. Edmunds also provides tools to allow shopper to compare vehicles to similar models of their choosing by warranty, interior features, exterior features, specifications, fuel economy, vehicle dimensions, consumer rating, edmunds rating, and color
What options are available on the 2010 Kia Soul?
Available Kia Soul 2010 Submodel Types: Wagon
Available Trims: +, Base, !, Sport
Exterior Colors: Shadow Black, Clear White, Bright Silver, Titanium Gray, Alien II, Inferno Red, Alien 2, White w/Red Roof, Fathom Blue, Latte Brown, Wild Orange, Alien, Mysterious Blue, Shadow, Caribbean Blue, Titanium, Molten, Solar Yellow, Dune, Inferno Red w/Black Roof, Kale Green, Shadow Metallic, Cloud, Moss, Titanium Metallic, Bright Silver Metallic, Alien Metallic, Clear White w/Red Roof, Denim, Java Metallic
Interior Colors: Black cloth, Black leather, Gray Two-Tone cloth, Gray cloth, Gray Two-Tone leather, Black premium cloth, Sand/Black cloth, Sand/Black leather, Red/Black cloth
Popular Features: Aux Audio Inputs, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Rear Bench Seats, Stability Control, Tire Pressure Warning, USB Inputs, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Bluetooth, Trip Computer, Back-up camera, Auto Climate Control, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, Post-collision safety system, Upgraded Stereo, Navigation, Keyless Entry/Start, Sunroof/Moonroof, Power Driver Seat, Heated seats, Leather Seats, Blind Spot Monitoring, Cooled Seats, Electronic Folding Mirrors, Upgraded Headlights, Lane Departure Warning, Remote Start, Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-collision safety system