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First Drive: 2017 Kia Soul Turbo

Source: Automobile Mag by Conner Golden – November 22, 2016

I, for one, welcome our new compact crossover overlords. Don’t tell anyone, but somehow, automakers found a way to trick consumers into purchasing slightly-softer, slightly taller variants of their respective compact car-based hatches. This burgeoning segment already spawned some of the funkiest and head-scratching cars on the market, ranging from the baller-on-a-budget Mercedes-Benz GLA to the handsome, devil-may-care Mazda CX-3. Of these fun-sized “SUVs,” Kia’s Soul has consistently ranked at the top of our list and the addition of a new turbocharged powertrain just sweetens the deal.

If you’re expecting the aggressively named 2016 Soul Turbo to scrape fenders with the GTI or Focus ST, you’ll be disappointed. Korea’s performance offensive arrives in the near future sporting a fancy “N” badge; for now, the medium-hot Forte SX Turbo and Veloster Turbo are the closest hot-hatch competitors. Instead, Kia situates this new powertrain as the “premium” option, aimed at those that wish for additional passing power and extra gumption for highway merging but remain highly unlikely to willingly venture toward anything remotely resembling a track-day.

Underneath the gently massaged exterior beats the 1.6-liter turbocharged I-4 offered in the Kia Optima and Hyundai Sonata/Tucson. 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque is a sizeable jump from the next most powerful Soul engine, up 41 hp and 45 lb-ft more than the naturally aspirated 2.0-liter. Despite the hop in power, there’s also a slight boost in efficiency to an EPA-rated 26/31 mpg city/highway.

Despite rumors surrounding an all-wheel drive variant, power is routed to the front-wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Sorry, purists, no do-it-yourself option here — the take-rate for a manual would have been so low, we don’t blame Kia one bit for the omission. Regardless, the dual-clutch is a perfect compromise, returning speedy shifts without the chalky, hesitant personality some twin-clutch gearboxes are cursed with.

2017 Kia Soul Turbo rear three quarter

For when you absolutely, positively have to eke every ounce of performance out of the Soul Turbo, Kia developed a Sport mode specifically for this powertrain. In Sport, everything is predictably sharper, including higher shift-points for the transmission, heavier steering, and eager throttle-mapping.

Aside from some slight tuning changes made to the damping and springs, the Soul Turbo’s chassis remains more-or-less the same as the regular Soul. To compensate for the boost in power, the Turbo gains marginally bigger 12.0-inch brake rotors in the front, while the rear rotors remain 10.3 inches in diameter.

Out on curvaceous Nor-Cal roads, the Turbo was surprisingly poised. It’s not nearly as fun as a purpose-built hot-hatch or even the sunny Mazda CX-3, but the Kia is entertaining enough to satiate the occasional backroad craving. Due to the electrically assisted steering rack, feedback is unfortunately kept to a bare minimum. Torque steer is noticeably absent as well, however, a welcome change from the more-aggressive Forte SX Turbo we drove earlier this year. Despite our best attempts, the standard all-season tires remained silent and free of any vocal dissent.

Separating the Turbo from the rest of the Soul lineup is some additional glitz both inside and out. A new, paddle-less flat-bottomed steering wheel is a welcome addition, along with catchy contrasting stitching on the seats and wheel. As many other drivers noted, the Turbo’s 18-inch wheels are strikingly attractive, appearing not too far removed from the wheelset of the fantastic 2012 Track’ster concept.

2017 Kia Soul Turbo front interior

More importantly, the Soul remains one of the most usable and spacious offerings in the segment, with an impressive 61 cubic feet of stowage with the seats folded down, besting the cramped Mazda and the cavernous HR-V. Backseat passengers have plenty of leg and headroom, while the front-seat occupants enjoy an exceptionally high roof.

You can only get the 1.6-liter powerplant in the Exclaim trim, meaning each Turbo arrives with a bucketful of interior features. Even when loaded to the gills, the Soul Turbo is affordable; ours was kitted out with Apple Car Play/Android Auto, panoramic sunroof, Harmon/Kardon audio system, and navigation, and still came in a tick above $27,000.

We like the regular Soul, but love the new Soul Turbo. It’s a usable and non-compromising power upgrade over the naturally aspirated models that returning better fuel economy and offers improved backroad manners. As far as we’re concerned, the fact that it remains under $30,000 is just icing on the square-shaped cake.

2017 Kia Soul Turbo Specifications

On Sale: 2017
 Price: $23,500 (base)
 Engine: 1.6L DOHC 16-valve turbocharged I-4/201 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 195 lb-ft @ 1,500-4,000 rpm
 Transmission: 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission
 Layout: 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, FWD CUV
 EPA Mileage:  N/A
 L x W x H: 163.0 x 70.9 x 63.5 in
 Wheelbase: 101.2 in
 Weight: 3,232 lb
 0-60 MPH: 7.5 seconds (est)
 Top Speed: 125 mph (est)

The best electric vehicle

Surprise: The answer isn’t Tesla. (Not unless you have a lot of money.)


This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. Read the full article here.

After doing three months of research, interviewing leading experts, and driving all 11 electric vehicles that are available in the US, we’re convinced that the Kia Soul EV is the best car for most people who want to drive gas-free. Costing about $34,000 (or $26,500 after a federal tax credit), the Soul EV is a comfortable, versatile everyday car that’s easy to live with and drives better than most other EVs. Its 93-mile driving range is one of the longest you’ll find, which reduces range anxiety. It’s stocked with nifty high-tech features that make driving an EV easier. And it has a superlong warranty. Overall, the Soul EV is a great car that will cut both your driving costs and your carbon footprint.

Why you might consider an EV

An all-electric car is for people who want to drive completely gas-free, whether to cut driving costs or be more environmentally friendly. Unlike ahybrid car, an electric car runs completely on electric power and doesn’t have a backup gas engine. You can plug the car into any electrical outlet to recharge the battery, although recharge times are definitely longer than filling up at a gas pump (see Ins and outs of plugging in below).

You can save money by driving an EV because electricity is typically cheaper than gasoline; at the national average of 12 cents per kWh, electricity costs the equivalent of $1-per-gallon gas. EVs also require no oil changes or “tune-ups,” so you save money on maintenance. And in some areas you can get access to carpool lanes and other driving privileges. From the environmental perspective, an EV uses only about one-third the energy of a similar gas-powered vehicle. And it doesn’t produce any tailpipe emissions. Yes, emissions are generated by the power plants that charge an EV, but when broken down per vehicle the emissions are still much less than those from driving a typical gasoline car. EVs are also pleasantly quick and quiet to drive.

Downsides? EVs have a limited range before you need to recharge them—100 miles or less for most models. That’s enough for most commutes and around-town runs, but unless you have access to public charging you won’t be able to do longer trips. EVs cost more than a conventional car, although a federal tax incentive of $7,500 and various regional incentives help lower the price. Also, EVs aren’t sold in all states yet.

It may look like an engine under the hood, but there’s no combustion happening here.

Questions you should ask before getting an EV

  • How far do you drive in a day? Estimate the average distance you travel in a day so you can choose a model that easily gets you there and back before you need to plug it in.
  • Are there places where you can charge when away from home? Public chargers can give you a lot more flexibility in your daily driving.
  • Do you have access to another car for longer trips? If you don’t, are you okay with renting a car for those treks?
  • Do you have a convenient place to plug the car in for recharging (ideally a 240-volt outlet)? If not, how much would it cost to run an electrical line to a good location?
  • Does your utility company offer special rates for EVs? If not, can you charge the car during lower-rate, off-peak hours?
  • Will you need to drive the EV in freezing temperatures? Cold weather (and running the heater) can reduce an EV’s range by up to 40 percent, so add a buffer to your range estimates. If that adjusted range creates a pinch, you might consider a plug-in hybrid, such as the 2016 Chevrolet Volt, which provides a gas engine while still giving you lots of gas-free miles.
  • Are you okay with leasing a car? We think it’s better to lease an EV rather than buy one. You get the federal tax incentive up front, and leasing provides a hedge against the possibility of the battery pack failing prematurely (a part that might cost you thousands of dollars to replace) and possible rapid depreciation of the car because of how quickly EV technology is advancing.

Ins and outs of plugging in

Think of filling up your electric car as being more like charging your cell phone than remembering to stop for gas.

While you can plug any EV into a normal 110-volt household electrical outlet (called Level 1 in EV speak), a full charge can take a very long time: 16 to 20 hours or more. For most people, it’s much more practical to use a 240-volt charger (called Level 2) because it cuts those charging times by half or even more. But setting up your home for Level 2 charging can cost $500 to $1,200, plus installation and any necessary electrical upgrades. Some public charging locations have even-faster Level 3 chargers to give your EV a quick boost when you’re on the road.

Our pick

The Kia Soul EV has great range, an affordable price, and the best set of high-tech features.

Among affordable electric cars, the Kia Soul EV offers the best combination of a long range, a reasonable price (especially with the federal tax incentive), and a practical layout. Its 93-mile range is 15 miles more than most EVs, and it offers the best collection of features that are important to EV owners. The Soul is comfortable and space-efficient and it drives nicely, which isn’t something you can say about a lot of EVs (the regular Soul is our top pick for subcompact crossover SUVs). And Kia’s extra-long five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty keeps the Soul covered longer than most cars; the powertrain, EV system, and battery are covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. The one notable drawback is that it’s available in only 10 states: California, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington.

The best EV—if money doesn’t matter

The Tesla Model S is the best electric vehicle. But because of its price tag, we can’t say the Tesla is the best electric vehicle for most people.

If you can handle its nearly $90,000 price, the Tesla Model S is easily the best overall electric car available, especially with the optional 90-kWh battery. It treats you to a long 200-mile range, luxury-car comfort, blistering acceleration, and sports-car cornering. It’s also a high-tech tour de force that makes you feel like you’re driving a bona fide car of the future.

An affordable runner-up

The Nissan Leaf SV is the go-to electric vehicle that most people know because it has been available for so long and has sold more than any other EV.

The 2016 Nissan Leaf SV, which costs about $35,000 (or about $27,500 after the federal tax credit), provides many of the same benefits as the Kia Soul EV, has an even longer range than the Soul (107 miles), and is sold nationwide. We recommend getting it with Nissan’s Quick Charge Package. The Leaf isn’t our top pick, though, because it’s not quite as roomy, comfortable, or versatile for carrying cargo and passengers as the Soul is.

This guide may have been updated by The Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

Little Kia Soul comes up big

BY Jil McIntosh
Toronto Star
Apr. 8, 2016

Square shapes make the most interior space for passengers and cargo, always a bonus in a compact model such as Kia’s Soul.

2016 Kia Soul

It’s not necessarily pretty, but it’s practical. Square shapes create the most interior space for passengers and cargo, always a bonus in a compact model such as Kia’s Soul. It doesn’t take up much space in the driveway, but it’s surprisingly roomy inside for its size.

The Soul starts at $17,195 for the base LX trim, with a 1.6-litre four-cylinder that makes just 130 horsepower along with a six-speed manual transmission. But the basic trim doesn’t include air conditioning. You’ll have to pay $18,995 for a stick-shift model that does, or $19,895 to add A/C with an automatic transmission to that trim.

If you’re planning on packing in passengers, I recommend the 2.0-litre engine. It makes 164 horsepower and is used in all other trim lines, starting with the EX at $21,195, up to the top-line SX Luxury at $27,495. All Soul models are strictly front-wheel drive, there’s no all-wheel drive option.

My tester was the SX Sport, at $25,995. It’s immediately identifiable by its two-tone red-and-black paint scheme. You can also get it in black-on-red or red-on-white, the only colours available on this trim.

The larger engine comes exclusively with a six-speed automatic transmission. It’s econobox-noisy on hard throttle, but it’s otherwise adequate for downtown commuting or highway hauling. Handling is quick and it’s fun to drive, although Kia is fond of a gimmicky feature, Flex Steer, which changes the steering feel when you press a button. It’s been around for a while and I notice it’s been considerably improved since its inception, back when the Comfort setting on some vehicles was so soft it felt wobbly. This time around, there isn’t much difference between Comfort and the Normal setting. I kept it in Sport, which definitely isn’t sportscar-firm but it feels the most responsive.

A short turning radius helps with tucking the Soul into tight parking spots, especially with the rearview camera that’s optional on the mid-range EX and standard on the SX.

For its size, the Soul feels substantial. The doors close with a solid thunk, the interior surfaces are soft-touch, and the fit-and-finish is excellent. It’s a considerable step up from the first-gen Soul (last seen in 2013) and from other cheap-feeling (and now discontinued) boxy models such as Scion’s xB and the Nissan Cube.

And while the interior design has just enough funky cues to be interesting, it’s not over-the-top. I love the stereo speakers stacked above the vents, especially with the bright red accents that are part of the Sport package.

Kia packs quite a few features into the Soul, especially in the upper levels. My car included heated leather seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, automatic headlamps, automatic climate control, power-folding mirrors, push-button start, and my new favourite feature, a heated steering wheel. Taking the Soul up to its highest level also adds a panoramic sunroof, premium stereo, cooled seats, navigation, and lane departure and forward collision warning, among other items. All Soul models also come with a five-year/100,000-km warranty on almost everything.

It’s tough to cross-shop the Soul, since little else in the segment shares its boxy body or the features in its mid- and upper-level trims. Hatch models, such as the Toyota Yaris hatchback, Honda Fit and Chevrolet Sonic, also offer far less horsepower than the Soul’s 2.0-litre unit. But if price is of prime importance, those three competitors range from $2,420 to $2,800 less than the base Soul LX, even though the output from Kia’s 1.6-litre engine is comparable to that of the Fit and Sonic.

Still, for its features, the Soul’s worth a look and a test drive. It may look like the box it was shipped in, but there’s a lot more to it than that.

2016 Kia Soul

PRICE/AS TESTED: $17,195/$25,995

ADD-ONS: $1,725 freight

TYPE: Compact hatchback

PROPULSION: Front engine, front-wheel drive

CARGO CAPACITY: 532 L (rear seats up), 1,402 L (rear seats down)

TOW RATING: Not recommended

ENGINE: 1.6-litre four-cylinder or 2.0-litre four-cylinder

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic

POWER/TORQUE: 130/118 (1.6); 164/151 (2.0)

FUEL CONSUMPTION: City 9.8, hwy. 7.5, as-tested 9.3 (regular fuel recommended)

BRAKES: 4-wheel disc brakes

TIRES: P235/45R18 all-season (SX trim)

STANDARD FEATURES:

(SX trim as tested): Automatic climate control, Bluetooth, satellite radio, push-button start, auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated steering wheel, cooled glovebox, portable cargo flashlight, heated leather seats

ACCESSIBILITY: The high sill may be tough for some to step over

COMPETITION: Chevrolet Sonic, Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris Hatchback

WHAT’S BEST: Handsome, well-finished interior

WHAT’S WORST: Noisy acceleration

MOST INTERESTING: You can also get an all-electric version

WEBSITE: Kia.ca

LOOKS: Yes, it’s a box. Some of us like boxes.

INTERIOR: Well-finished and comfortable

PERFORMANCE: Definitely not snappy, but gets the job done

TECHNOLOGY: Kia’s UVO voice recognition system is one of the best

WHAT YOU’LL LIKE ABOUT THIS CAR: A roomy interior for the vehicle’s size

WHAT YOU WON’T LIKE ABOUT THIS CAR: You can’t get all-wheel drive

SCORE: 6.8/10

The 2016 Kia Soul is Still the Best Boxy Car Money Can Buy

Feb. 2, 2016, 10:57 AM

The box car craze of the early ‘aughts has finally come to an end. Scion recently killed off its segment-defining xB, and Nissan’s Cube went away because, well, nobody bought one. Still waving the square flag, however, is Kia with its Soul.The Soul has always been a top seller for Kia, and for good reason. Where the other boxes felt cheap (though cheerful), the Soul brings style, a solid build quality and tons of features for a wallet-friendly price. It’s the clear leader in the small box world, and not just because it’s the only one you can still buy new.I recently took a brand-new Kia Soul! (the exclamation point is part of the name – you know, to make it more exciting) from LA to Vegas and back. And even after spending almost 700 miles with the boxy Kia, it’s a car I still find myself stoked on.

Keep It Urban

That said, a freeway cruiser this is not. With its stiff suspension and short wheelbase, the Soul! (shout it out loud as you say it) feels nervous on those high-speed straightaways. It does an admirable job clocking in the miles, but by the time I got to Victorville, I found myself longing for something a little larger—more plush. Something that could soothe the inevitable hangover I’d be fighting during my return trip. Something like a Bentley. Or better yet, an airplane.

But whatever… the Soul! is a city car at heart, and it’s a damn good one. With its diminutive size and nimble handling, it easily dodges Vegas’ throngs of meth-addled taxi drivers. A peppy 164-hp 2.0-liter four-banger and not-so-bad CVT provide enough grunt to help Soul! eagerly get from stoplight to stoplight. This powertrain keeps the Kia moving at a reasonable pace on the freeway, too. And with its 31 highway mpg, I didn’t have to fill it up with gas too often, either.

10465_2016_Soul

The Look

Outside, the current gen-two Kia Soul doesn’t look too different from the one that has come before. This newest version is sleek and modern (for a box), featuring stylized alloy wheels, HID lighting, and just the right amount of black-accented trim to provide some contrast. Get one in white, squint really hard and it almost looks like a First Order Stormtrooper. Almost.

10464_2016_Soul

Interior

The inside, though, is where the Kia Soul! really shines. I don’t know what it is about Kia, but the company regularly cranks out interiors superior to that of parent company Hyundai. The plastics look to be of a higher grade, the panels seem to fit together just a hair better, and a whole lot more thought goes into the overall interior design.

Things feel just as funky and modern in the Soul! as they do outside. Those cylindrical “pods” housing the speakers and air vents are unique, as is the sound-sensitive accent lighting. When looking at the overall design—including the sculpted surfaces, gloss-black accents, integrated tech, and even the fonts used—this cabin feels very “now.” Whether that means that this will all look dated in the next five-to-ten years remains to be seen.

There’s plenty of room for everyone to get comfortable in a Soul!, but if you want to take more than a small bag, you’ll need a second vehicle. Fitting even a moderately small suitcase required the folding down of both rear seats. But at least the front occupants get plenty of comfort with high-end features like heated and cooled leather-trimmed seats, Bluetooth connectivity, full nav, and a backup camera.

Yes, there were a lot of optional features on this Kia Soul! tester, so for all I know, a base model could be a total penalty box. But with an as-tested price of approximately $26,000, any adult with a real job can afford a fully spec’d one. Just be smarter than me—use the cash you save to pay your mortgage instead of on a debauchery-fueled trip to Vegas. Speaking of which: Anyone have a couch I can crash on?

Read the original article on RideApart. Copyright 2016. Follow RideApart on Twitter.

Kia Soul wins third consecutive Canadian Residual Value Award from Automotive Lease Guide (ALG)

February 10, 2016 – Kia Canada announced that it has received its third consecutive Canadian Residual Value Award for the Soul Urban Hatchback from ALG, the industry benchmark for projecting future vehicle values and depreciation data.

The ALG Residual Value Awards determined the Kia Soul as the top choice in the Subcompact Utility segment. These awards honour the vehicles and brands that are predicted to retain the highest percentage of their original price after a four-year period for Mainstream brands.

“We are very proud and thrilled by this important acknowledgment from ALG today” said Ted Lancaster, Vice President and COO, Kia Canada Inc. “Receiving this award for three consecutive years is a true testament to the world-class design, quality and value that the Soul offers to Canadians.”

ALG recognizes 27 vehicles with segment awards, along with two brands representing the Mainstream and Premium sectors of the industry. This year’s awards are based on 2016 model year vehicles.

“The 2016 Kia Soul earned its third consecutive ALG Residual Value Award in the Subcompact Utility segment by offering the economy of a small hatchback with increased utility and premium feel for the price,” said Geoff Helby, Canada Regional Director for ALG. “Infused with a distinctive personality, the Soul is successfully positioned to retain its value over time.”

Award winners are determined through careful study of the competition in each segment, historical vehicle performance and industry trends. Vehicle quality, production levels relative to demand, and pricing and marketing strategies represent key factors that impact ALG’s residual value forecasts.

Kia Crushes German Competition In Germany (August Electric Car Sales)

This entry was posted in Clean Technica on September 19th, 2015

I love covering Germany’s electric car sales, partly because it’s a large electric car market, partly because the leaders change so much, and partly because it gets several electric models before other markets. A new addition to this race this month is the Mercedes GLE 500e. Other plug-in cars now selling in Germany and mostly not selling in other countries include the BMW X5 xDrive40e, BMW 225xe, Audi Q7 e-tron, Mercedes S500 PHEV, Mercedes 350e, and Volkswagen Passat GTE.

Clearly, one of the biggest Germany EV sales stories this month (well, I think the biggest) is that the Kia Soul EV crushed every other model, surging far into #1. It was like Usain Bolt against the fastest women in the world. That propelled the car into #5 for the year through August. With Germans very intent on buy cars from German manufacturers, and seemingly preferring plug-in hybrids to full electrics, this seems rather odd, no? Well, word on the street is that most of those Souls (pun intended) are only immigrating to Germany for a short stay before immigrating further north to Norway. (Note that the Soul EV took the #3 spot in Norway in August, but the vehicle may be cheaper and more accessible down in Germany.)

For the year to date, things get really interesting. “Signs of a extremely balanced market, the leader has only 11% share (lowest in the world) and is only 1% above the #4 (also lowest difference in the world), making this the only market where four different models are openly fighting for the top spot with only four months to go,” Jose Pontes writes.

“Oh, and don’t forget that Kia and Tesla are not that far off, so a lot can happen here.”

Indeed. If the Soul EV has a few more months like August, and if Tesla sends a surge of Model S sedans over to Germany in one of its big, end-of-year delivery pushes, we could see a serious shakeup at the top.

As it stands now, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is just 8 units ahead of the Volkswagen Golf GTE, and 152 ahead of the #3 Audi A3 e-tron (which, I think it’s worth noting, is the same vehicle as the Golf GTE but with a different cover, and was actually #2 in August). The BMW i3 is just 78 units behind the A3 e-tron for the year through August (but fell to #7 in August), and then the Soul EV and Model S are sitting just 159 and 300 units behind it, respectively, with the Model S working its way up the table a bit by taking #3 in August.

I have to say, I think this is the most exciting EV market to cover.

Even beyond these top 6 models, we don’t see a steep drop-off anywhere like is typical in other markets. It’s more of a staircase-like decline than a cliff-like decline. Here are the full charts and table for more details:

Germany EV Sales 2014 - August 2015

2014 Kia Soul Exclaim Long-Term Verdict Review

Not So Square After All

 

By | Photos By Guy Hermann, Motor Trend Staff | August 06, 2015  |

Well, that went by fast. After a year of manning the 2014 Kia Soul long-termer, the hamster-mobile has warmed my heart in more ways than one. I never would’ve thought I’d be sad to see the Shrek-colored boxcar go, but after living with it for a full year, I can understand why the Soul has continued to dominate sales charts.

More on Motortrend.com:

In the year I had it, I’ve moved twice and stuffed the Soul to the max. I wasn’t the only one to take advantage of the Soul’s spacious interior, as it was requested as a support vehicle for photography purposes on multiple occasions. Other staffers found themselves loading it with their snow gear and skis, as well as party tables and chairs.

2014 Kia Soul Exclaim Front Three Quarters In Motion 02

Although it looks funky on the outside, the Soul is surprisingly refined inside with leather-wrapped elements and just enough shiny black and aluminum plastic trim to make it look nice, not cheap. The dash is covered in soft-touch material, and the black stitching on the perforated black leather is tight and nicely constructed. The interior survived the year unscathed except for minor scuffs left by snowboards on the back of the passenger seat and on the black shiny plastic trim on the right rear passenger’s door panel. Some other (more expensive) cars have just a mesh lining covering the panoramic sunroof, but the Soul’s was thick enough to completely keep out the sun. Even though its interior proved to be very much grown up, the Soul still stayed true to its funky roots with unique elements such as the tweeters mounted on top of the HVAC vents.

More on Automobilemag.com:

Reactions from almost everyone who first stepped inside the Soul went a little something like this: “Whoa. It’s actually really nice in here.” It never failed. Not once did anyone ever complain about legroom or headroom, and I personally appreciated the easy ingress and egress. Even though I don’t have any little ones yet, I’d image the Soul would be a stylish alternative for small families. That’s because over the past year, I watched my puppy grow from a little 8-pound thing to a 46-pound beast in the Soul, and strapping his doggie seatbelt into the back seat was always a breeze thanks to the easy entry and exit. He also enjoyed himself back there, as the seats had a good seatback-to-seat-cushion ratio, allowing him to sit upright in a comfortable position. He seemed to think overall visibility of the Soul was great, too, especially because he could easily see out the large windows and rest his head on the low sill.

2014 Kia Soul Exclaim Baden

While I drove the Soul, the hatch proved relatively inexpensive to maintain. Aside from a piece of loose, black liftgate trim, we had no issues with the car, and spent just $127.32 in maintenance costs. Our long-term Mazda3 S GT, which carried an as-tested price of less than $1,000 more than our $26,635 Soul, cost $162.55 to maintain. Our all-wheel-drive 2012 Subaru Impreza Sport Limited cost $315.01 and our long-term 2013 Kia Rio SX, which traveled about 16,000 miles more than our Soul and visited the dealer for maintenance more often, cost $215.55.

More on Automotive.com:
2014 Kia Soul Exclaim Seat Warmers

So what will I miss the most? Well, let’s see: heated front seats, heated rear seats, cooled front seats, the massive panoramic sunroof, and the 18 radio station presets. It seems like I’ll just miss the premium features more than the actual car, but that’s not entirely true. The Soul did surprise me with its capable performance, which I really became familiar with on a new route home from work. Instead of driving on the traffic-choked 405 freeway over the notorious Sepulveda Pass, I started taking a detour through the canyon, and the Soul was able to hang through every quick turn. I underestimated the top-heavy Soul, thinking it was going to exhibit tons of body roll through the curves, but it stayed level and planted with each flick of the steering wheel. It may not handle like our long-term Subaru WRX STI, but it’s still more than stable enough to keep the average driver feeling confident on winding roads. If the Soul Exclaim’s 164-hp, 2.0-liter four-banger left me wanting a bit more, I can’t imagine what it’d be like driving the base model, which makes an anemic 130 hp by way of a 1.6-liter I-4. But if engine performance isn’t a big priority, the Soul’s blend of refinement, value, and fun styling should be more than enough to win consumers over. Although the models come standard with plenty of niceties, I highly suggest opting for some of the packages offered if you’ve got some extra cash lying around, because the premium features definitely helped the Soul earn some very high marks.

2014 Kia Soul Exclaim Front Three Quarter 02
2014 Kia Soul Uvo Eservices On Head Unit

Of course, it wasn’t all perfect. Although the UVO infotainment system was super easy to use with a very responsive touchscreen, I wish it had more smartphone-like capabilities for things such as viewing the map. It’s hard trying to zoom in by pushing buttons on a touchscreen, so it’d be cool to just use the same gestures one would use to zoom in and out on a smartphone. Either way, the screen is good quality, which becomes apparent when the sun hits it. There’s no reflection, and it does a good job of hiding fingertip smudges. Back to the downfalls. The voice-control system is not the best, requiring me to repeat myself several times in certain instances. There was just the one aforementioned fit and finish issue with the black plastic trim on the tailgate was starting to lift. After a year behind the wheel, I grew to appreciate what the Soul was good at, realizing that it has more pros than cons. I never would have considered the Soul before my time in it, so it definitely proved me wrong.

Soul EV wins the 2015 Canadian Green Car Award at the Green Living Show

The all-new 2015 Kia Soul EV earns “2015 Canadian Green Car Award”

(Toronto, On) March 27, 2015

Kia Canada was presented with the 2015 Canadian Green Car Award today for the 2015 Soul EV during the opening day of the Green Living Show in downtown Toronto.

The Soul EV first won the “Battery Electric” category ahead of the 5 other competing category finalists to win the overall Canadian Green Car Award. The Finalists included the Porsche Cayenne S E Hybrid (Plug-in Hybrid category), Honda Accord Hybrid (Hybrid category), Volkswagen Golf TDI (Efficient Gasoline or Diesel Internal Combustion category), Kia Rondo (Efficient Three-Row Vehicle category) and Mini Copper S (Fun Car category).

The 2015 Rondo won its “Efficient Three Row Vehicle” category, beating the 2015 Nissan Rogue.

The Canadian Green Car Award, now in its third year, is awarded to distinguished vehicles, widely available in Canada, that offer both notable environmental qualities with solid mass-market appeal to Canadian consumers. The Soul EV will be on display at the 2015 Green Living Show from March 27 -29 in the North building of the Metro Toronto Convention Center.

“Winning this award is especially important for Kia because it further validates the sophistication of our technology and our ongoing global commitment to continue to introduce alternative powertrains that reduce the carbon footprint”, said Maria Soklis, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (COO), Kia Canada Inc .

Earlier this week, the Soul EV was also awarded the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada’s (AJAC) Canadian Green Car of the Year Award.

Kia BUZZ: “Kia Soul EV wins 2015 MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Award”

Kia Soul EV wins 2015 MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Award

Kia’s first all-electric zero emissions vehicle for global markets, Soul EV, has been named the Best Eco-Friendly Vehicle at the MotorWeek’s 34th annual Drivers’ Choice Awards . Each year MotorWeek produces a list of winners for different car categories after analyzing industry trends, new products, and technologies, to provide car buyers with a reliable source of information. MotorWeek editors noticed the Soul EV’s roomy interior and cargo space, on top of its best-in-class range , in picking it as the best eco-friendly vehicle.

Soul_EV

Motorweek’s host and executive producer John Davis commented on Soul EV’s practicality and style, stating that “it has more power and range compared to other affordable all-electric vehicles. Plus, its funky style makes driving the Kia Soul EV really cool.” While retaining the iconic design of its gasoline-powered sibling, the Soul EV is offered in four color choices and with premium amenities such as navigation with an eight-inch touchscreen and a 6.6kW on-board charger. This award is a tremendous honor, coming as it did from such a respected source.

The latest accolade for Soul EV comes on the heels of recent recognition in Canada and Norway, being named as the ‘Best New City Car’ and ‘Car of the Year ’, respectively.

Build it Now: How Kia Can Get Away With a $30,000 Soul

More Soulful Packaging

Motortrend.com | By Zach Gale | February 13, 2015

It shouldn’t have worked so well — but it did, big time. For the 2013 model year, Subaru introduced what basically amounted to a lifted compact hatch with black wheel-arch cladding, roof rails, and distinctive wheels, but crucially, called it an SUV. The Impreza-based XV Crosstrek went on to become the third-best-selling Subaru in 2014, its 70,956 units sold overpowering the Legacy and even non-WRX/STI Imprezas.

Now it’s Kia’s turn with the Trail’ster.

Introducing a production-spec version of the Kia Trail’ster concept that debuts at the 2015 Chicago auto show is a no-brainer, and it’s surprising the crossover isn’t already in showrooms, sharing space with the Sportage. Rumors of a Soul-based crossover have swirled as far back as 2011, and some buyers already think of the Soul, a compact hatchback only offered with front-wheel drive, as a crossover.

The 185-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter I-4 in the Kia Trail’ster concept might alleviate at least one of the Soul 2.0’s shortcomings: relatively slow acceleration considering its middling fuel economy of 23-24/31 mpg city/highway. We’ve tested the Soul; the 164-hp naturally aspirated 2.0-liter I-4 reached 60 mph in 8.4 seconds. The 130-hp base engine is no more efficient, and is, of course, is slower. Then again, we’ve tested the popular Subaru XV Crosstrek with a CVT automatic reaching 60 mph in a leisurely 10.0 seconds. Transformed or marketed as an SUV with available all-wheel drive, the Kia’s numbers suddenly become competitive, and, with a Trail’ster production crossover, Kia could stop calling the Soul a hatchback on its media site yet a crossover on its consumer site.

Value might be tricky for a production Trail’ster, Soul X, Cross-Soul, or whatever Kia decides to call it. Unless the production model arrives with the underpowered base Soul’s 130-hp engine, a production Trail’ster would need to be priced a few thousand above the lowest Soul 2.0, which starts at $19,515 (all prices include destination charges). In the compact crossover field, the manual-transmission, front-drive 2016 Fiat 500X starts at $20,900, the automatic-transmission front-drive 2015 Chevrolet Trax at $20,995, and the manual-transmission all-wheel-drive 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek at $22,445, though the manual-transmission front-drive 2015 Jeep Renegade slides in at just $18,990.

The Trail’ster concept looks the part, with a ride height 2.5 inches higher than the regular Soul’s and plenty of rugged crossover styling cues all around, plus a “beefy gearshift lever,” in the words of Tom Kearns, the chief designer at Kia’s U.S. design center. The concept’s turbo-four and electric all-wheel-drive system combo is neat (good for 220 hp and 285 lb-ft of torque), but not necessary to keep existing Soul owners upgrading to a vehicle that could, with all-wheel drive and the Soul’s “Whole Shabang Package,” nearly touch $30,000 before any regional incentives. The Whole Shabang Package adds HID headlights, speaker lights, panoramic sunroof, navigation on an 8-inch display, Nappa leather seat trim, heated front and rear seats, and cooled front seats.

The Soul has turned into Kia’s second-best-selling vehicle, behind only the Optima midsize sedan in 2014. Sacrificing a few Soul and Sportage sales for a lifted, more SUV-stylish version of a compact hatch seems like a long-overdue and potentially profitable idea. Just ask Subaru.

At the 2015 Chicago auto show, Michael Sprague, executive vice president of Sales and Marketing for Kia Motors America, claimed that whether a production version of the Trail’ster concept is built comes largely down to consumer and media feedback (if the decision hasn’t already been made). So tell us what you think: Would a Soul-based crossover be a big mistake, or should Kia get it in dealerships tomorrow? How much would you pay for a Soul-based crossover?

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