Kia Kool

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2010 Kia Soul

OK. I know I'm reaching here, but headlines have never been my thing. And I really am trying to convey a sense that Kia is an automaker worth checking out.

Don't scrunch your nose at me. It's true.

Have you seen what they've done lately? Two all-new cars for 2010, which are really great. And the starting price? Under $15K. Let's start with the Kia Soul ($13,300). As much as I hate to admit it, this car is probably a little young for me. It's more for the under 20 set, but there's so much good stuff going on, it's worth a mention.

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2010 Kia Soul

Taking a pot-shot at the Scion xB, the Soul is smaller, cuter, quirkier and less expensive. It's easy to park, has great visibility and really good functionality. I'm a particular fan of the speaker lights that come standard beginning in the ! model ($17,195). They jive in time with the music, blinking and flashing up a storm.

The base model is pretty basic (122 horsepower engine and a five-speed manual transmission), but starting at the + level ($15,195), you get standard Bluetooth connectivity, USB/auxiliary jacks, an additional 20 horsepower and I/P mounted tweeters.

Fun and functional for not a lot of money. Oh, and I love the houndstooth seating surface in the ! model.

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2010 Kia Forte

The new Kia that is exactly up my alley: the Forte.

Launched at the 2009 Chicago Auto Show, this compact sedan and "koup" (see, Kia got kute with the Ks as well) is taking aim at the Honda Civic. And it does a darn fine job.

With a base price of $13,695, the Forte costs $2K less than the Civic, and in my opinion, it's a lot more attractive. That slopping snubby nose on the Civic just rubs me the wrong way.

The test car I had was loaded with heated leather seats, a power sunroof, Bluetooth, USB/auxiliary input jack, automatic transmission ... and pretty much everything else I could possibly need, and the final price with destination rang in at $19,290 for the EX model. But you can still get a lot at at the base LX level, including the Bluetooth.

The looks were great, the ride was great, but the engine noise was a little rough. But, hey, when you're talking under $15K as a starting point, not bothered by this at all.

The other great thing about Kia: the 10-year/100,000 mile warranty. A lot of good stuff and a lot of confidence from the manufacturer that the product will stand the test of time.

So, have I convinced you? Would you konsider a kia?

Filed under: Reviews

Tags: compact, Forte, Kia, sedan, Soul

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