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Flashy and Funky: The New Kia Soul

Kia Soul EV

Many nicknames have been given to the Soul including a toaster, box, or cartoon, but the reality is the Soul has a personality all its own and with the exit of the Nissan Cube and Honda Element the Soul is now only rivaled by the Scion xB as the leading boxy style vehicle on the road. The Soul offers a lot to love for any owner, a low price, great interior space, a lot of technology and a fun and funky style that can be upscale chic or downtown raw depending on the owner and the personality the put into it.

Overall, regardless of the point of view the Soul is very much a practical vehicle that allows plenty of interior storage and differing configurations as well as being a very fuel efficient hatchback car the Soul is enjoyable by almost every crowd who shows any interest. For 2015 the Soul offers an all-electric version called the Soul EV that will be sold initially on the two coasts in California, Oregon, New York, New Jersey and Maryland but eventually will be available across the entire country. The only other changes for this new model year are the addition of the UVO telematics package and available Nappa leather seating.

Getting behind the wheel of the Soul offers a much smoother and quieter ride than the outgoing models did. With a completely reworked suspension and stiffer chassis the Soul handles any road imperfection easily and the addition of noise canceling technologies as well as added insulation allows the occupants to jam out to their own tunes instead of listening to the drone of the road. The steering is predictable even though it’s not as highly responsive as some other models and the power of the engines allows for a nice acceleration. Overall the feeling of driving the new Soul is fun and energetic as well as comfortable and enjoyable.

Under the hood the Kia Soul offers three engines to choose from although one is the electric motor that is has a limited availability for now. The base model comes powered by a 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder engine that offers as much as 130 horsepower and 118 lb.-ft. of torque. This gets paired with a six-speed manual transmission and offers decent fuel efficiency of 24 city/30 hwy mpg.

The two higher trim levels of the Soul are equipped with a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that carries 164 horsepower and 151 lb.-ft. of torque. This engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and offers a fuel efficiency of 23 city/ 31 hwy mpg which is raised in the city to 24 mpg when equipped with the Idle Stop & Go function. All Kia Soul models are front-wheel drive only.

The electrically powered version of the Soul is powered by an AC synchronous electric motor that gets its fuel from a 27 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that offers 109 horsepower and 210 lb.-ft. of torque. The estimated range for a full charge is 80-100 miles allowing for the electric model to be a great choice for driving around in the city. This gives this version an estimated equivalent fuel efficiency of 114 city/90 hwy mpge. The battery can be charged in about 24 hours on a regular 120-vold outlet or less than five hours when plugged into a 240-volt outlet.

On the inside the Soul offers seating for five comfortably and is surprisingly roomy. Depending on the trim level chosen the Soul can be covered in cloth or leather throughout the seating and offers a great deal of instruments and upscale technology to enjoy. The pulsating lights on the speakers that stay along with the beat of the music offer a fantastic feeling of enjoyment while driving, making the cruise just about anywhere fun and funky.

From the outside the Soul retains its boxy appearance but adds a bit of a new look with a reworked front end and the large tail lights. Once again, higher trims add some upscale features to the exterior with LED turn signals and projector beam headlights as well as LED tail lights. The Soul’s small upper grill and very wide lower grill positioned between two slant-eyed headlights offer a look of distinguished fun and function to the front end and the wheels add a serious flare of interest with their star panel shape that looks awesome in motion or standing still.

Offered in three trim levels the Soul has a model that will appeal to just about anyone. The three trim levels are Base, Plus (+) and Exclaim (!). For the base trim the standard features include air conditioning, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, a six-way manual adjustable driver’s seat, power windows and door locks, Bluetooth connectivity and a six-speaker audio system. Moving up to the Plus model adds cruise control, keyless entry and upgraded cloth upholstery throughout. At the top of the heap, the Exclaim adds 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, power folding outside mirrors, UVO eServices, a rearview camera, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a ten-way power adjustable driver’s seat. The EV models come equipped with an eight-inch touch screen infotainment system with navigation controls.

The optional features for the Soul come in the form of an 8.0-inch touch screen infotainment system with navigation controls, a rearview camera, leather seating, heated front and rear seats, ventilated front seats, LED interior lighting, push button starting, an automatic climate control, an Infinity audio system and the Idle Stop & Go system. Adding all these features to the Soul can really turn out a car that is high-end comfortable, and fresh and funky enjoyable.

Starting at the base model the price for a Kia Soul opens up at $15,900 making this a very affordable hatchback for just about any budget. Adding an automatic transmission to the base model raises the price by $2,000 for this model of the Soul. At the top end, the Exclaim trim starts around $21,500 and reaches as high as $27,000 when fully loaded but even at this price point the Soul is less expensive than comparable models from the competition.

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