A Buyer’s Guide to the 2012 Kia Soul

Known to a lot of people as “the hamster car” thanks to its funny and catchy TV ad campaign when it first debuted, the 2012 Kia Soul has gained a lot of popularity over the last few years. Some critics say that this can’t last, but the Soul keeps proving them wrong every year. It’s no surprise that it keeps selling so well, either. With its impressive list of features and its low price point, this CUV (crossover utility vehicle) is a winner.

Key Features

With tap shifting, the six-speed automatic transmission on the 2012 Kia Soul lets you feel more connected to the road without losing the convenience of driving an automatic. This feature is standard throughout all trims, as are air conditioning, a four-speaker stereo with optional Sirius XM radio, and a USB input jack for the audio system.

Changes for 2012

For 2012, Kia did away with the old four-speed automatic transmission on its base models, and the Soul got a minor update on its exterior. They also discontinued the Soul Sport trim level.

What We Like

The 2012 Kia Soul is affordable, practical, and versatile, but it also has a unique, fun style all its own. The six-speed transmission is zippy and helps keep the fuel economy high, too.

What Concerns Us

While you can usually find used 2012 Kia Soul models at great prices, they don’t tend to hold onto their resale value. If you plan on selling your car again in the near future, you might want to look for one that will get you a higher price when it’s time.

Available Models

The base model 2012 Kia Soul comes with a 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder engine with 138 horsepower at 6300 RPM and 123 lb-ft of torque at 4850 RPM. If you upgrade, you’ll get a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine with 164 horsepower at 6500 RPM and 146 lb-ft of torque at 4800 RPM. The smaller engine does get slightly better gas mileage, but the difference is almost negligible.

Major Recalls

A few 2012 Kia Soul models have been recalled to resolve a problem with the headliner plates becoming detached when the curtain airbag is deployed.

Common Issues

A few 2012 Kia Soul owners have complained that the gas tank is too small, necessitating more frequent stops for gas than they’d like. Other issues include a lack of a spare tire and malfunctioning cargo lights.

kia soul 2012 interior


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