Kia’s quirky little sales hit known as the 2012 Soul is visually fraught with a vast array of style, design and coloring choices which in a logical world should never, ever be construed as “fashion forward.” For instance, our test 2012 Soul in the “!” trim level (yes, that’s what they call it) came to our door in an eye searing lime green hue known as “Alien.” Just imagine turning up the contrast all the way on your old crank-dial color TV as a kid while watching Kermit the Frog on “The Muppet Show” and you will have some idea as to how this downright insane exterior color choice looks.
But somehow, Kia’s Soul is so sub-zero hipster cool that we wound up appreciating this extroverted and otherworldly paint color which on other cars would have appeared laughable. Or in Kermit’s case, croakable. So what started all of this fashionable madness for boxy compact cars? Yes, we know that Nissan took a swing at this market with the Nissan cube but unfortunately the latest version looks like they let Roger Rabbit design it as it really only looks at home in a place called Toontown. Which is, of course, fictional.
To find the impetus for boxy becoming the new black when it comes to cars, one only need look back to the first generation Scion xB which parent company Toyota originally thought would not sell well in this country. Much to the befuddlement of product planners, however, the xB sold very well far outpacing the original xA which was supposed to be Scion’s volume model. The 2012 Scion xB we are testing here against the Soul is the second generation variant which featured rounder edged exterior styling that apparently caused the oft mentioned but mainly mythical Gen-Y new car buyers to flee from the brand en-masse. We are still not sure if that wasn’t the xD’s fault.
Now, the 2012 Soul doesn’t quite look like a refrigerator box on wheels as did the first Scion xB but it was the first car that people ever bought from Kia because of the way it looked and not just for the low price and warranty. Truly, the Soul was a turning point for the now red hot Kia motors so much so that for 2012 it was given an all-new engine and transmission, upscale feeling optional leather, in-dash navigation and even the excellent UVO in-vehicle infotainment system which we have raved about before in the Optima.
But before you rush down to your local Kia dealer to cut them a check for your Soul (only Satan can give that back to you and he doesn’t take checks), don’t count out the surprisingly more affordable and slightly more usefully utilitarian 2012 Scion xB. It may not be as boxy as it used to be but we still think this Scion can haul plenty of boxes for you. Come on people, it’s either this or a U-Haul Truck.