What is it? Kia has redesigned the popular Soul, sticking quite close to the original package, with an emphasis on added feature content. Several dimensions increase by less than an inch, preserving the compact proportions while making incremental gains.
The styling looks quite familiar, with some visual refinements. The LED headlamp accents and tail lights given it a more modern flare.
Two engines will be offered: 130-hp, 1.6L and 164-hp, 2.0L. The base engine can be had with a choice of a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. The uplevel engine is matched with the automatic. In the outgoing Soul, this combination returned 26 mpg overall.
What’s new or notable? For an affordable, small car, the Soul will offer several features not typically found in the segment, including front and rear heated seats, ventilated front seats, panoramic moonroof, mirror turn signal indicators, and heated steering wheel. Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio, and heated mirrors are standard. The Soul will offer an infotainment system, with Pandora Internet radio, voice command, backup camera, XM data services (weather, traffic, etc.) and navigation. There is a second display in the instrument cluster for showing turn-by-turn directions.
CR’s take: Kia is playing it safe with this redesign, improving on a successful model in a way that should add appeal but not broaden its reach. A stiffer chassis and quieter cabin have potential to address some of our past criticisms, and some of the new content should please buyers.
When will it be available? Fall 2013.