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Pricing: Updated 2012 Kia Soul starts under $14,000

Consumer Reports News: August 22, 2011 12:23 PM

The Kia Soul receives new, more-powerful engines and upgraded interior for the 2012 model year. The sticker price has edged up, but the better-equipped base model remains just under $14,000 at $13,900 with a manual transmission. Models with an automatic start at $15,700. Destination charges add $750.

A new 135-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder powerplant serves as the base engine. Fitted with direct injection, Kia says it will be good for 35 mpg on the highway when paired with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The top-level engine is now a 164-hp, 2.0-liter four cylinder. (The 2011 Soul has the original 122-hp and 142-hp engines, and its best highway EPA-rated fuel economy is 31 mpg.) The Soul will offer “Idle Stop and Go” to further boost fuel economy, allowing the engine to turn off at standstill, then quickly fire back up.

An exterior freshening will distinguish the new model year, with changes to the front fascia, headlamps, side mirrors, rear fascia, and taillights.

Kia claims the upgraded interior reduces noise, vibration, and harshness-something we were critical of in our last road test. A new voice-activated infotainment system with a rear camera and 350-watt stereo will be offered. A tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel is now standard, and leather will be optional.

The Kia Soul is on our shopping list for our 2012 test program, and we look forward to seeing if it fulfills the new promises.

Jeff Bartlett

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