We had an 01 Maxima that needed too many repairs. I didn't want a payment, but the wife wanted something new. I essentially went into the dealer and said "I want a Soul, manual transmission, white, and no options." The "no options" thing is just to give you maximum leverage, because nobody makes a vehicle with "no" options. I was almost wrong. Kia had a white Soul, manual trans, and floor mats (option). All said, it has been awesome. Only $245/mo payment, 37mpg, and plenty of room.
The Kia Soul is the best of the econoboxes, and it's not really that close. I took a very hard look at the Scion XB, as I'm a fan of most things Toyota (particularly the original MR2), but it was an odd combination of too quirky yet too heavy and grown up. The Honda Element is all of the same traits amplified, but with worse still gas mileage. The Nissan Cube is quirky too, but very light and efficient with great gas mileage. However, it's not large enough for passengers, at least not in comparison to the Soul. The Cube also has poor visibility out and an uncomfortable seating position, IMO. Then comes the Kia Soul, which simply does everything right while looking great and driving sweetly. One can opt for the 2.0 liter with a manual for a healthy dose of sport, but I prefer the better mpg of the 1.6. It still accelerates strongly due to its low weight, but keep it out of the revs and you can return 31 mpg in Suburbia-type traffic with lots of stop and go. This is my first manual with 6+ forward gears, and the Soul really makes the most of them. I haven't done any 60 mph highway drives, but I would fully expect this to get 40 mpg in true highway driving. What else? The stereo with Aux in, USB for charging (or a billion songs on a thumb drive), bluetooth for phone audio or calls, great ergonomics, a huge glovebox, great visibility all around, and a very comfortable drive. I also do my own maintenance and repairs, and was blown away the first time I popped the hood. Room! Room galore for hands and wrenches. The only criticism I can imagine is that there is some road noise, but no more than my wife's very comfortable Odyssey. Some of that is likely tire noise, but you can tell that they left off some noise dampening to keep the weight and price down. It's not bad by any means, but it's the only thing I can think of that is less than ideal with the Soul, even with the base. Ebay has sheets of sound deadening material for sale, and I'm doing that next. This car is highly recommended. I'll be shocked if I don't have at least one Soul in our driveway 10 years from now.
The Soul is a vehicle with great potential. Good looks. Nice interior. Lots of room (I'm 6'4"). Good entertainment system in my base model. BUT, with just 12000 miles on the odometer, I've got a rattle in the front suspension AND the steering column. The big negative for the Soul is the suspension. Everyone describes it as firm. I'd say brutally, and unnecessarily stiff. If you are fortunate enough to drive nothing but new pavement, you will love this vehicle. Real world roads bring out the worst in the Soul's road manners. I drive 22 miles to work, and I've been introduced to every pavement fault along the route. You soon learn to avoid the big ones, or suffer the bone jarring consequences. But, even the small irregularities are magnified to uncomfortable proportions. Lots of road noise...suspension rumbles...now I know why the hamsters have the music cranked up. If you are considering a Soul, give it a good real world test drive, or rent one for a weekend.
I have a 2013 + (plus) with 2 liter automatic. It's a pretty nice car, well built, not too cheap on the fit and finish. It's really big on the inside. visibility is good except for the rear corners. The pillar is kind of thick. The car is short, about 10" shorter than my Honda Civic, but it is really tall.
I bought my Kia Soul ! In white back in November of 2013 and I have never been happier with a vehicle. Everywhere I went for the first year I owned it I received nothing but compliments from friends, coworkers and even strangers at gas stations and other places. The look from the outside made me think that the car was extremely small but when I stepped inside I realized I was wrong. Nearly 2 years later I've only had a problem with the spoiler and the aux input, which my dealership fixed for free and also washed, waxed, changed my oil and rotated my tires for free as well. Needless to say, it's a tiny car that packs a punch, I love to drive it everywhere and I will def choose Kia again.