Kia has a hit with the Soul, a compact hatchback that has exceeded sales expectations. So, when it came for a redesign, the company stuck with its winning formula, packaged with more upscale amenities.
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, such as neater window trim. The LED headlamp accents and tail lights give it modern flare. An odd element, the trademark Kia grille is fake, being solid plastic. The real air intake is a wide mouth beneath the bumper that looks more like a winter welcome mat than artfully crafted design detail.
The hood and front fenders look a touch more truckish. Underneath is a 130-hp, 1.6L or 164-hp, 2.0L four-cylinder. 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.
The body is said to be 29 percent stiffer, providing the opportunity for improved ride. This is welcomed, as the stiff ride was a criticism we had for the outgoing model. Likewise, Kia says cabin noise has been reduced three decibels, again touching on a noted shortcoming.
The new Soul is most distinguished by available premium features that are 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. As before, pulsing stereo lights are offered to help bring the party on the road.
Fuel economy and pricing was not announced, but assuming they are similar to the 2013 Soul, this new model does promise enough added appeal to make its owners, and hip-hop hamsters, dance.