The 2010 Kia Soul is flying off the dealer showroom floor, a bright spot in an otherwise dismal selling season. While gas prices are low, consumers are enamored with the 27/31 MPG along with the roomy interior, clever styling, 10yr-100k factory warranty and $14,000 entry price. The car arrives as a manual or automatic 1.6L 4 cyl and options to the 2.0L 4 cyl, similar to many models in this entry level category.  Kia packages the upgrades in clever names, (not): Soul, Soul Plus, Soul Exclaim and Soul Sport. Power windows, door, tilt, cruise, cd are standard on the Plus, with alloy wheels, fog lamps and keyless entry on the Exclaim and Sport model. The Sport also offers a two-tone red/black interior, ground effects and rear deck lid spoiler.

Kia packed the SOUL with the “must have” features on the GenerationNOW shopping list. The front end steals from the Mini, while the back is pure Element. The overall shape borrows heavily from the Scion XB, and soon to be shadowed by the Nissan Cube, debuting May 5th.

The highlights include the stereo with a unique MOOD button which turns the sound system into a nightclub with bouncing lights in the speaker cover thumping to the bass.  The regulation iPod jack sits next to the USB port found in many luxury brands.  The cloth interior is wash and wear in two-tone herringbone or red/black for the sport model. Six side and front airbags might help the KIA SOUL obtain high marks with the new 2010 NHTSA crash tests, which include new t-bone and wrap-around collision tests, rollover and off-set frontal all considered in one rating. It’s test results have not been released at this writing. 

Handling is tight, as the wheel base is small and the 18″ tires grab the road. Be aware the 0-60 is slow to get going and acceleration is best at 35+mph. However, this aerodynamically-challenged design allows shifting wind currents and large trucks motoring by, to push the Soul around.  At anything over 70mph the car shakes through the steering column into your silver fillings. It settles out at 90, but maybe I was flying by then.  The road and wind noise will annoy the older adults on a long ride, but the young drivers won’t notice with the stereo blasting XM/Sirius.

There are lots of decor accessories available to push the price point up to $20,000.00.  Credit to KIA offering a first time buyers program and 0% for 36 months for a limited time, strong incentives unheard of for a hot car making it’s debut this month. Kia dealers are playing fair and cautious with the SOUL, sticking to MSRP pricing and minimal accessory loading in the initial introduction.

Sales reps report a wide range of buyers are visiting the showroom, many consumers are considering KIA for the first time.

Check out my YOU TUBE KIA SOUL test drive review here:

SEE WHAT MSN FIRST DRIVE says about THE KIA SOUL.  MORE INFO AVAILABLE at http://www.kiareports.com

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Sarah Lee is an automotive executive with 20+ years of experience. She writes about Cars, and is a staunch consumer advocate on car related subjects. Her company: MY CARLADY is a car buyer’s service committed to getting you the best deal on your next new or pre-owned vehicle. You can reach her at www.mycarlady.com /about