Kia Soul Wagon
The 2011 Kia Soul brings hipster styling and a fun-to-drive nature to the realm of the practical hatchback. Pros: Loads of available features, highly customizable, user-friendly controls, ample passenger space, surprisingly fun to drive, low price, long warranty. The Kia Soul receives a few improvements for 2011, with new rear shock absorbers and standard rear disc brakes (replacing last year’s rear drums) being the most notable. Other minor changes include new door handles, push-button start, a trip computer and heated outside mirrors. Kia’s engineers also managed to infuse the Soul with peppy engine performance (at least on the upper trim levels) and sporty handling. Together, they make the Soul a surprisingly fun-to-drive small car that’s still a cinch to maneuver around tight city confines in relative comfort. On the highway, last year’s Soul had a choppy ride quality, but the new rear shock absorbers should at least partially remedy that problem.
We rate the 2011 Kia Soul highly among the overtly boxy competition that includes the Nissan Cube and Scion xB. Both can accommodate more cargo than the Kia with their rear seats stowed, but the Soul scores points for having the most attractive design in our eyes. There are a few more conventional choices as well, such as the Honda Fit and the Mini Cooper Clubman, they, too, have sharp styling, athletic handling and surprising cargo versatility. But the Kia Soul gets just about everything right. And for that, we think it’s worth adding to your short list.