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The Soul of Kia’s Lineup May Have a New Special Edition For ’16

What will change?

Not much. An all-new Soul was released in October of 2013 as a 2014 mode. The next redesign is not expected until the end of the decade. In the meantime Kia will release special edition models every few years as they have been since the introduction of their quirky compact. One model expected to carry over from a 2015 launch is the Kia Soul EV, the brand’s first electric vehicle in the U.S. It will be available California and Oregon and possibly some eastern states such as New York, New Jersey and Maryland.

Why wait for the 2016?

To see if there is a new special edition Soul that strikes your fancy. Pass releases include the Red Zone, the Red Rock, and the Dragon. It is also possible that the lineup will expand to include a new, optional all-wheel-drive system, possibly tied to the more powerful 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. This would greatly extend the compacts’s versatility, appealing to customers in northern states and colder climates.

Why buy a 2015 model?

If you think this small is unique enough without any special treatment. Redesigned in ‘14, the 2015 styling should not seem stall for a number of years. And purchasing a ‘15 will allow you to avoid the yearly price hike expected with the 2016.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

Styling

Styling is expected to remain unchanged from 2014 makeover. Already considered a bold design, Kia decided to make the ‘14 changes relatively tame for this popular compact. Expect no major changes to the trim levels available. The Base offers a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and such key features as Bluetooth wireless connectivity and SiriusXM satellite radio. The Plus and Exclaim trim levels come standard with the larger, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The Plus has such items as remote keyless entry and steering-wheel-mounted controls while the Exclaim comes with power-folding mirrors and the Your Voice (UVO) infotainment system.

Mechanical

The 2016 Soul will come with standard front-wheel drive and a choice of two gasoline engines as well as an electric powertrain. Additionally, a new, optional all-wheel-drive system may be available. Accounting for approximately one-third of sales, the Base trim comes with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. It creates 130 horsepower and comes with a choice of a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The Plus and Exclaim trims have the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and are first choice for two out of three buyers. The larger engine creates 164 horsepower and comes standard with the six-speed automatic transmission. The EV features a 27 kilowatt-hour lithium polymer battery pack powering an 81-kilowatt electric motor. It offers 109 horsepower and a robust 210 pound-feet of torque and should be good for 92 miles on a full charge. Recharging should take approximately five hours on a 240-volt charger.

Fuel Economy

The 2015 EV is the brand’s first zero-emission and plug-in electric vehicle and can run up to 92 miles on a single charge. The two available gas engines deliver similar fuel economy, with both the 1.6-liter and 2.0-liter averaging an EPA–estimated 24 miles to the gallon in the city and 31 on the highway. These numbers come after Kia had to reduce the advertised gas mileage on its entire lineup by an average three percent in 2012 because of procedural errors by Kia’s testing facility.

Features

Don’t expect dramatic changes to the 2016’s available features. The Base model comes standard with air conditioning, power windows, heated mirrors, and Bluetooth. The Plus adds such optional equipment as a front center console, rearview camera, turn-signal mirrors, leather upholstery, heated and cooled seats, a heated steering wheel, automatic climate control, and a panoramic sunroof. The Exclaim is the fanciest trim, with LED accent lighting, a power driver’s seat, power folding mirrors, UVO infotainment system, and a cooled glove box.

Prices

Pricing for the new Soul should be very similar to the 2015 lineup, with prices starting at $15,000 for a Base model and going up to $21,000 for the top-of-the-line Exclaim trim. These do not include a $795 destination charge. Pricing for the EV is expected to be around $30,000.

Competitors

Ford Focus Hatchback, Mazda 3 Hatchback, Fiat 500L, Volkswagen Golf, Mini Cooper Countryman

QUICK HITS:

The 2014 redesign continues to underscore the owner’s love of music with stylish A-pillar-mounted tweeters and optional speaker lights. As in the first-generation—famously advertised in a commercial featuring full-sized hip-hop hamsters—the door speakers’ trim lights up, pulsates to the beat of the music and even changes color.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]