Kia’s well-designed, well-equipped, and rather fun Soul has made a lot of friends around here. Now, two years after the boxy hatch’s launch, Kia is showing off a mid-cycle refresh for the 2012 model. Previewed at the 2011 New York auto show, the update includes more content, more power, and a few surprising touches.
First, the fun part: Thanks to direct injection, the base 1.6-liter four-cylinder now puts out 135 hp and 121 lb-ft of torque (up from 122 hp and 115 lb-ft for 2011’s 1.6). Fuel economy also increases, jumping from 26 mpg city/31 highway to 28/34. A six-speed manual replaces last year’s five-cogger as the standard transmission. The available 2.0-liter four also gets a boost, landing at 160 hp and 143 lb-ft of torque (versus 142 hp and 137 lb-ft), with fuel economy rising three ticks on either side of the equation, to 27/33. That consumption applies to both the six-speed manual and the newly available six-speed automatic. It will take more power than that, of course, to make the Soul truly fast, but a bump in output accompanied by an increase in fuel economy is a good start.
Exterior styling updates include new LED taillight clusters for higher-spec trims, along with ritzy LED projector headlights. All Souls get a redesigned hood and new front and rear bumpers, as well as body-color door handles and mirror housings.
The cabin is promised to be quieter, thanks to a thicker insulation panel in the dash, although the driver can offset that by exploring the upper volume ranges of the Infinity audio system now available on fancier trims. Top-spec Souls also offer the option of either navigation or Kia’s UVO voice-controlled infotainment system, although, oddly enough, the two options cannot be ordered in tandem. Other surprisingly upscale options include heated leather seats, automatic climate control, and a push-button starter. If that doesn’t seem particularly unexpected to you, consider that pricing isn’t likely to climb much from the $14K–$20K range of the current model. See now why we like the Soul?
Thanks to: Car and Driver