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.
Last winter I had to part ways with my beautiful 2004 orange Pontiac GTP. I loved that car ~ but I could not keep up with repairs after the electrical started to fail (bought used, had more problems than I was aware of at the time). So after car shopping for months (because I was reluctant to let go of a beautiful car) I settled upon a Kia Soul+. I knew a couple of people that had one and never complained about it. So let me tell you the perks of owning one. Seating is comfortable, for both drivers and passengers. Visibility is great - unlike my Pontiac I've yet to encounter a blind spot while driving. Steering is sensitive, acceleration is nice - though I'm not impressed with the noise (sounds like a fart car compared to my Pontiac). Out of all the vehicles I test drove, I felt comfortable behind the wheel and actually felt the car was from this galaxy when I checked out the entertainment bit. You have a usb port, a jack, two lighter sockets, and the controls on the steering (volume, blue tooth call, etc) are easy to learn. Millage is good - if you have proper tires, and filled properly, and use your cruise control and don't drive like you're in the Daytona 500 you may get more millage than you expect. I'm getting about 30 in the city, and 32 on the highway. Now for the cons... It's not a fan of bumps. You'll feel them unfortunately. I once went over a bump so hard I nearly popped out of my seat! If you're in the US, you're missing out on the rear parcel shelf - it's a hard top that doubles as a privacy shield to hide your things in your trunk. Google it and buy one - don't waste your time with the flimsy canvas stores and dealerships try to sell you. The wheel; it's nice, but if you're used to a larger wheel size it can take some getting use to. I once hit what I thought was my horn in the parking lot to alert a distracted driver and instead hit my blue tooth call button. Speaking of blue tooth, it syncs better with an iPhone. I have an android and even though I'm able to sync for calling, it doesn't sync/provide volume for when I try using my phone for maps or music. Lastly.... THE TIRES! THE TIRES ARE TERRIBLE. They're fine at a 16" for snowy weather, but the brand they have on their is TERRIBLE. If it comes with Nexen - ditch the wheels straight away. I tried driving on them in my Pontiac and they were not suited for winter, despite saying all season tires. Hankooks are a little better but I still wouldn't recommend it - buy yourself some proper tires. If your dealership tries to sell you something other wise, take it to a trusted mechanic for better tires or google what the best tires for a Kia Soul would be. Lastly.... if you're thinking about getting a Soul Base - don't do it, at least if you live in a snowy climate like I do. The wheel size is smaller as is the engine. Spend the extra cash and get yourself a Kia+!