Last month we reviewed the 2010 Kia Soul Sport, which we found to be a step in the right direction if they want to compete with the Scion xB, Nissan Cube, and Honda Fit. It wasn’t great, but worth a look. This week, Kia dropped off another 2010 Soul – this time of the “+” (Plus) trim level. I thought this review would be easy, and go something like “here are the differences between the Sport and Plus trim levels.” Turns out that’s not the case…
The Soul + feels like an entirely different vehicle. For someone like me who always wants the sportiest experience possible, I’m shocked at how much better the Plus trim is. The most noticeable difference is the transmission. Our Soul Sport had a 5-speed manual that wouldn’t let you shift into 3rd gear most of time, and felt gritty and rough; an overall unpleasant experience. The 4-speed automatic in the Soul Plus was smoother and made the ride much more pleasant, although I wish the automatic was a 5-speed instead of 4.
The Kia Soul + gets the same 142 hp 2.0-liter engine found in the Sport, which is still too little power for this car. I found myself running the engine hard just to accelerate fast enough to keep up with traffic, and as a result got less than the 24/30 mpg EPA standard. On a 300+ mile trip, I averaged 24.9 mpg (although I was traveling rather hastily most of the way.)
So how else do the Soul + and Soul Sport differ? The +, which is the second trim level in the line-up (it goes Base, +, !, Sport) costs $2000 less than the Sport model. As a result, it has smaller 16-inch wheels (vs. 18″,) a softer (and seemingly more capable) suspension, a smaller stereo, no interior metal accents, no body kit, and no rear spoiler. Each trim level also has its own interior design, and I like the “Soul” branded seats on the + better than the others as well.
I’m glad we got another Kia Soul to review so soon; now I’m convinced of it being a worthy contender to its competition. As far as I’m concerned, if you’re going to get a 2010 Kia Soul, the + trim is the way to go. It has a better looking interior and a better ride than the Sport model. It still has most features, unlike the Base model, and the only stuff you miss out on from the “!” trim are the upgraded stereo and bigger wheels.