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2014 Kia Soul Modeled after Kia Track'ster Concept Car

3/29/2013
Calling the completely redesigned 2014 Kia Soul "more fun, funky, and functional than ever," the automaker unveiled its new urban utility vehicle at the 2013 New York International Auto Show. Inspired by the Track'ster Concept, the new 2014 Kia Soul retains its signature floating roof and wrap-around greenhouse design while riding on a stiffer, longer, and wider platform that makes the 2014 Soul roomier inside for both passengers and cargo.

In a statement, Michael Sprague, executive vice president of marketing and communications at Kia Motors America (KMA), said: "The Soul moved the needle significantly...becoming one of our top-selling cars and inspiring the now-legendary hamster commercials. It was important that the all-new Soul remain true to the original iconic design while infusing it with improved driving dynamics and desirable features that add appeal, sophistication and value."

Kia will continue to offer Base, Plus, and Exclaim trim levels, each equipped with an interior that Kia says provides a more premium look and feel through the use of soft-touch materials on the dashboard, door panels, and center console armrest. New seat designs provide increased thigh and lateral support, and can be optionally wrapped in leather upholstery. Kia has also taken steps to quiet the 2014 Soul's interior, and claims a 3-decibel reduction of overall interior noise.

Like the Track'ster Concept, the new 2014 Soul incorporates a circular design theme throughout the cabin. A triple-circle recessed gauge cluster, circular door panel and steering wheel controls, round speakers and tweeters, and, for the Soul Exclaim, a prominent ignition button on the center console all hearken back to the Track'ster, according to Kia. Key seating and cargo dimensions increase over the current Soul, and Kia says the seat hip point and the step-in height are lower than today's car to make it easier to get in and out of the new Soul.

Standard equipment includes power windows, power door locks, heated power side mirrors, telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity, and a 6-speaker audio system with a USB port, auxiliary audio input jacks, and 3 free months of satellite radio service. Options for the base model include cruise control, remote keyless entry, and 16-inch aluminum wheels.

The 2014 Kia Soul Plus is equipped with cruise control and remote keyless entry, as well as 17-inch aluminum wheels, automatic headlights, side mirror turn signal indicators, and a reversing camera. Inside, the Soul Plus includes a floor console storage box and a rear-seat center armrest. Kia's UVO eServices technology is also standard for this trim level, while options include fog lights, 10-way power driver seat, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.

The 2014 Kia Soul Exclaim sets itself apart with standard 18-inch aluminum wheels, projector-beam headlights, fog lights, front LED positioning lights, rear LED halo taillights, and unique front trim that Kia refers to as "tusks." Inside, the Soul Exclaim is equipped with piano-black console trim, a cooled glove box, 10-way power driver seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Automatic climate control, push-button starting, and a Supervision Thin Film Transistor (TFT) Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) gauge cluster are also standard for this version.

Options for both the Soul Plus and Soul Exclaim include a navigation system, premium sound system, interior LED mood lighting, leather seats, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and a heated steering wheel. A new panoramic glass sunroof is also offered for these two models.

The 2014 Soul is equipped with a new 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine as standard equipment, accompanied by a choice between a 6-speed manual gearbox and a 6-speed automatic transmission. The direct-injection, 1.6-liter engine generates 130 horsepower at 6,300 rpm and 118 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,850 rpm. Available as an option, a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine carries over from last year, updated with direct fuel injection and rated to generate 164 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 151 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm. A 6-speed automatic transmission is standard with the larger engine, and Kia says that both power plants are tuned to deliver more low-end torque for improved acceleration and response.

Driving dynamics are also improved, according to the automaker, due to a 28.7% increase in torsional rigidity, new suspension, and new electric steering. Engineers say they have reduced ride harshness and impact boom for the MacPherson strut front suspension, while the torsion bar rear suspension design offers greater travel for a more comfortable ride quality. A new one-piece steering unit is said to improve the Soul's on-center feel and response, and new Flex Steer technology provides driver-selected Comfort, Normal, and Sport driving modes.

The redesigned 2014 Kia Soul goes on sale in the third quarter of 2013, painted one of seven new colors, including Solar Yellow and Inferno Red. Pricing is to be announced closer to the car's on-sale date.

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