Kia Soul GT-Line. Photo: Kia Motors

This week I'm tooling around in a $22,000 Kia Soul X-Line, a toaster-shaped compact that oozes personality.

Why it matters: This is the third-generation Soul and somehow, its quirky style just keeps getting better with age.

Details: Its upright stance hasn't changed, but styling enhancements and high-tech lighting make it seem more futuristic and youthful.

  • Inside, mood lighting and a unique 3D-pattern surface on the upper door panels sync to the car's audio system.
  • The surprisingly roomy interior has a lot of hard plastic surfaces, as you'd expect in an entry-level car, but it doesn't feel cheap.
  • The standard 2.0 liter engine gets 30 mpg (27 city/33 highway), or you can upgrade to the GT-Line with 1.6-liter turbo.
  • Even at this price, the Soul comes with standard safety features, including blind spot warning, lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert.
  • Forward-collision avoidance and driver attention warning are available on some models, but not on the X-Line I tested. They're standard on GT-Line models, along with a head-up display.

The bottom line: Car and Driver described the Soul as "a point-and-shoot kind of car, one that's competent, if not exactly fun to drive." I disagree. You feel younger driving the Soul.

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