Korean automakers built their foundations on these shores by offering cars priced much more aggressively than established competition yet packed to the gunwales with features. Kia has come a long way since opening up shop with their first dealerships in â€“ where else â€“ Portland, Oregon. Keep it weird, Portland.
Even with the by-all-accounts superb Stinger and the not-offered-here funky Stonic pointing Kia in a bold new direction, the company stays true to its roots byÂ continuing toÂ offer an array of products squarely in the Mr. Noodles price range. One of the most popular? The Kia Soul, of course.
Is there a base model? Of course there is. This time, itâ€™s right there in the name.
Behind the pug-tastic snout we find Kiaâ€™s 1.6-liter inline-four, deploying four valves per cylinder and making 130 horsepower. This figure is leagues ahead of what I endured in the base penalty boxes of my youth. A six-speed manual is standard equipment with Hill Assist helping out new drivers who find themselves near Pike Place Market in Seattle. The automatic, at $1,600, adds nearly 10% to the sticker price. You donâ€™t need it.
Disc brakes are found at all four corners. Why am I mentioning something seemingly mundane? Well, even today, certain models of the vaunted Toyota Corolla still have archaic drum brakes out back. Seriously. Go look it up. Iâ€™ll wait.
While the pedantic folks amongst us are hitting up the build-and-price tools to confirm that, now would be a great time to mention the Soulâ€™s tires, appropriately sized at 205/60/16 and guaranteed not to hoover your wallet clean come replacement time. Best of all, theyâ€™re mounted on alloys, not steelies.
Look inside your Soul and you will find the holy trinity of air conditioning, USB ports, and satellite radio. Economies of scale isÂ always one’s best friend on a base car and itÂ deliversÂ again in the form of power windows and a tilt/telescope steering wheel in this $16,100 Kia.
The usual trifecta of bleak colors are on tap: Clear White, Bright Silver, and Shadow Black. While I personally know several people whose Souls are quite black, your author would definitely choose the Cosmic Snot Alien Green shown above. All four colors are $0 each. Dandy.
At trade-in time, Iâ€™d be sure to find a dealership employing a person named Neville, simply for the privilege of saying â€” for the rest of my days â€” that I sold my Soul to the Neville.
Iâ€™ll show myself out.
[Images: Kia Motors]
Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, BB? Let us know in the comments. Naturally,Â feel free to eviscerate our selection.
The model above is shown in American dollars with American options and trim, absent of destination charges and available rebates. As always, your dealer may sell for less.