2012 Kia Soul |MotorWeek

4 Oct 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on 2012 Kia Soul |MotorWeek
Kia Soul

Episode 3118

When we first tested the Kia Soul two years ago, we felt it was the perfect mix of style, comfort, and utility needed for an urban runabout. But it didn’t “stir our souls” when it came to performance. Well, Kia has wasted no time in addressing that, with a heavily revised Soul for 2012.

So, let’s see if that soulful mix is now even better!

Well, one way to pack more “Soul” into the 2012 Kia Soul is with a new engine, or two new engines to be exact. The base 1.6-liter, shared with the Rio, adds direct fuel injection and is uprated to 138-horsepower yet still capable of 35 MPG on the highway. Up-level Souls will get a more energetic 2-liter I4 with 164-horsepower, up 22 and adds 11 pound feet of torque for 148.

Fuel economy is up in that engine as well, with Government Fuel Economy Ratings of 26-City and 34-Highway, regardless of transmission. You should expect 29 in routine driving. As to transmissions, both engines can be mated to all-new, front drive 6-speed manuals or automatics; all-wheel drive is still not available.

Our 2.0-liter automatic delivered a quick ride, as well as a smoother one. But, it’s a busier ride too, as the gear box is quick to upshift and downshift at just about every throttle input. Road holding is just as solid and agile as we remembered, but the cabin has definitely gotten quieter than before.

We gave the Soul high marks for its youthful, well designed interior, and not much has changed for 2012. Most controls are still located in the center stack “skateboard,” but our Exclaim model is thankfully not as flashy as the previous Sport model. It’s a little more grown up looking.

Tilt/telescoping steering wheel is now standard on all models, as is Stability Control with Hill Start Assist.

Our top-of-the-line Soul Exclaim sports a two-tone interior treatment with hounds tooth seat inserts, a 450-watt Infinity sound system with center speaker, subwoofer, and naturally speaker lights, plus the UVO infotainment system with a 4.3 inch touchscreen and back-up camera. Getting navigation requires adding an optional Premium Package. Rear seat space is still roomy, though the seats themselves are flat and hard and the trunk holds the same 19.3 cubic-ft. of cargo – 53.4 cubic-feet with the seat backs folded.

Exterior-wise, not much has changed either, but what little has been altered has given the Soul a much more aggressive look. Changes up front include a new fascia that’s less “pouty” and more “angry.” New projector headlights include LED accent lighting, and are bigger than before, requiring a slightly reshaped hood. And, the rear end gets the new fascia and LED treatment, as well.

15-inch steel wheels are still standard. The Exclaim rides on 18-inch alloys.

Kia Soul

At our test track, the 2.0-liter and 6-speed automatic combination proved good for a 0 to 60 run of 8.2-seconds. That’s a half second quicker than the original 2-liter Soul Sport that we last tested. The ¼ mile is also quicker at 16.5-seconds and 85 miles-per-hour. You feel the additional power right off the line, but from there, power stays relatively flat all the way down the strip.

Shifts from the new transmission are both quick and impressively smooth.

Nothing in the chassis department has changed, so the ’12 model still has the same feel through the cones that we remember which is fairly fun for a literal “Econo-box.” It turns in eagerly and feels more sporting than you would first think, though it’s still a far cry from a sports car. We have no complaints about the brakes, either. ABS with Brake Assist accomplished consistent panic stops from 60 in 126-feet.

The Soul’s Energy Impact Score is a good 11.4 barrels of oil consumed per year, with better than average CO2 emissions of just 5.1 tons per year.

Pricing for the 2012 Kia Soul begins at just $14,650 for the base model. The Soul + model starts at $17,050, while our top drawer Soul Exclaim stickers at $20,350.

Like the original, there really isn’t much to grouse about in the 2012 Kia Soul. More power is always a welcomed addition, especially since it’s joined by better fuel economy. We think Kia has done a fine job of making a good vehicle better without messing anything up in the process.

The only thing that would make it perfect in our eyes would be available all-wheel-drive. We’re not sure whether that’s in the cards, or not; but one thing we are sure of, this more Soulful Soul is a winner in our book!

Kia Soul
Kia Soul
Kia Soul
Kia Soul
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