Initially presented at the 2011 New York Auto Show, the 2012 Kia Soul has undergone several meaningful changes for the new season. While all of the major enhancements outlined then -- including new powertrain combos and various exterior/interior enhancements -- remain, Kia has just released additional information regarding starting price, final specifications and trim levels for its extremely popular youth-oriented five-passenger crossover.
For openers, the 2012 lineup will now consist of Soul, Soul+ and Soul! models, the Soul Sport departing as part of the makeover. All versions get revamped front and rear fascia and lamp treatments plus new wheels and mirrors, while their interiors offer a more sophisticated appearance and significantly improved isolation. Key new across-the-board standards include a tilt/telescoping steering column, Vehicle Stability Management and Hill-start Assist Control. Other new features include a 350-watt Infinity audio system (optional on Soul+, standard on the Soul!). The top-line Soul! also can be ordered with Kia's UVO voice-activated infotainment system, as well as a Premium Package that brings leather seating, auto climate control and a navigation system in place of UVO.
As we reported from New York, the 2012 Kia Soul will offer two new four-cylinder engines and two new six-speed transmissions. The base Soul gets the automaker's 1.6-liter direct-injected motivator, now officially rated at 138 horsepower -- 16 more than the engine it replaces -- and boasting 27/35 mpg EPA stats, gains of one and four mpg in the city/highway econo columns compared to the outgoing 1.6 liter, regardless of transmission fitment. The new 2.0-liter in the Soul+ and Soul! corrals 164 ponies -- 22 more than before. Despite that extra muscle, it teams with the new gearboxes to deliver 26/34 mpg EPA figures versus the 24/30 mpg stats of the 2011. Later this year, Kia will go one step further and introduce an Eco Package option for Soul and Soul+ models with automatic transmissions. Aimed at even more mileage-conscious buyers, it will include Kia's ISG start/stop technology, low-rolling-resistance tires and the firm's Active Eco System that adjusts engine/transmission/climate control systems for maximum efficiency.
Pricing for the 2012 Kia Soul will start at $14,650 for one with a manual transmission and $16,450 for an autoshifted variant, roughly a $600 bump over the 2011 versions. While Kia only indicated that a top-line Soul! will "start under $20,000," adding in the $750 destination fee is likely to put it over that benchmark.