The Soul lives in that increasingly gray area between hatchbacks and SUVs. A boxy, upright design gives it abundant interior space and super-easy access. You sit up high in chairlike seats, surrounded by an ample glass area for good visibility. Overall, it feels like driving a small SUV, but one that's lower to the ground. But unlike a true SUV, the Soul is available only with front-wheel drive.
Distinctiveness remains another part of the Soul's appeal. The quirky styling reminds some of a surfer dude with wraparound shades. Special edition color packages add to the levity. There is also a generous list of options, many seemingly more fitting to a luxury sedan than a boxy econocar, including features like a heated steering wheel and ventilated front seats.
Three different engines are available. Most will have a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, mated to a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission. Power delivery was just adequate; some of us wanted more gusto when merging or going uphill. Fuel economy averaged 26 mpg, which is good but not outstanding, especially given the modest power.