The base Soul gets a 1.6-liter four-cylinder with 138 horsepower mated to either a six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic. Fuel economy estimates are as high as 35 MPG. The most basic Soul also gets power windows, locks and mirrors, air conditioning, 15-inch wheels, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth, and a four-speaker audio system with Sirius satellite radio and a USB input with iPod integration.
The + trim adds a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 164 horsepower, 16-inch alloy wheels, leather-wrapped steering wheel and more interior storage. The top ! gets a standard automatic transmission, 18-inch alloy wheels, power sunroof, LED lights, eight-speaker premium audio system, backup camera and Kia's UVO voice recognition system.
See our picks for best crossovers in the CarsDirect Crossover Buying Guide.
The Scion xB is similarly tall and boxy with more cargo room, but isn't as powerful or frugal as the Soul. The Nissan Cube also has boxy looks and cavernous interior, but its automatic transmission only has four speeds. The Honda Fit isn't a head-turner like the Soul, but has a flat load floor and better handling. The Kia Rio also skips the tall box shape for a sportier drive and a nicer interior.
There's a reason the Soul manages to sell about 10,000 units a month – more than just about every subcompact competitor in this country. It appeals to a lot of buyers with its fuel-efficient engines, comfortable seating position, versatile cabin and interesting looks. It may be known as the "hamster car" by kids, but buyers in this segment should call it a "must drive."
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