2012 Kia Soul! review: so much more than a catchy advertising campaign
First, a look at my 2012 Kia Soul! test vehicle. As you may have noticed, everywhere I have mentioned the full name of the Soul thus far I have included an exclamation point after the name. The Soul is sold as a Base, Soul+ or Soul! model so this exclamation point is Kia’s innovative way of announcing their top of the line model. While that seemingly odd punctuation appears on the paperwork for the Soul and on the company’s website – you do not see any badging the signify that the Soul! is the top of the line model but there is plenty else to make it hard to miss the fact that this is a premium model of the sporty, affordable compact. That being said, from here on out we will review to our test vehicle simply at the Soul as to avoid having to fight with the grammar tool in my word processor.
The 2012 Kia Soul is listed as a small station wagon for the sake of EPA fuel economy ratings but realistically, I would call the Soul a crossover that combines the interior space of a small sport utility vehicle with the ride, fuel economy and stance of a car. Kia does things differently than many other automakers and that even extends to the color choices with my Soul test vehicle coming finished in the “Alien” exterior paint. As you can from the images on the side, Alien is a lighter metallic green and this has become one of the most noticeable colors for the sporty Soul.
The 2012 Kia Soul features a unique, aggressive design that is very similar to what we see across the rest of the brand. While some people might not be in love with Kia’s distinctly aggressive exterior layout, there is no question that it is very bold and for that reason, I really like it. Overall, the Soul is fairly boxy in its design but the designers have added enough curves here and there to allow it to differentiate itself from some other toaster-like models that compete with the Soul.
Across the front end, the 2012 Kia Soul wears a large set of headlights mounted high on the nose of the car with projection style headlights placed above bright LED “eyelids”. The black trim around the headlight inners is echoed down around the LED driving lights while the fog lights mounted low and towards the outer edges of the front fascia are finished all in chrome. The grille features a similar shape to the one found on the majority of the modern Kia lineup with a subtle piece of chrome trim running around the edge while the lower fascia is finished in all black. The rounded hood rolls up to a fairly steep windshield angle that continues up to meet the long, flat roofline while the blackened A pillars provide for a seamless, wraparound look for the front and side glass.
Along the sides, the 2012 Kia Soul has very upright angles but the exaggerated wheel openings that start in the front fascia and flow around to the front wheels, smoothing out along the doors before flaring back out for the rear wheels help to break up the slab sided design that can befall many compact crossovers. These muscular wheel openings are filled by the sexy 18” alloy wheels that are standard with the Soul! package and they help to accentuate the sporty nature of this roomy crossover. While the door handles are finished in the body color, the Soul packs a set of vents on the front fenders in matte black along with a matching body molding that runs along the lower body line created by the wheel openings.
Out back, the 2012 Kia Soul features more distinct styling with large LED taillights that run along the rear pillar, incorporating the backup lights into the center portion of the tails. The flat roofline has “ditch lines” that run along the top edges of the side doors and these lines flow into the back end – creating the opening for the rear hatch. For a vehicle of such small dimensions, the Kia Soul offers a shocking amount of size for loading items into the rear cargo area. Below the hatch is a sporty fascia that has a gloss black trim piece running side to side with red reflectors mounted towards the outer edges.
The 2012 Kia Soul has styling that is unmistakably Kia but that isn’t a bad thing by any means. While it might not be for everyone, the Soul takes a very aggressive design approach that has allow the compact Soul to make a splash in the industry. For an affordable vehicle, the sporty exterior fitted up with projection headlights and tons of LEDs all around give the Soul an upscale look with an aggressive edge.