Monday, November 16, 2015

2015 Kia Soul !

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 If you take a look at the Kia Soul, you might think that it is hard to put in a category. Is it a hatchback? What about a wagon or small suv? All of the above? Whatever you decide to call it, just know that it appeals to both the head and the heart.

     On the practical side, the Soul offers quite an amazing amount of features, both standard and optional. The cabin of the Soul is a comfortable and rather user-friendly place to be, with good amounts of room and intuitive controls. Kia's Soul will be a friendly companion for errand running as well.

     The Kia Soul has 4 doors and seating for 5. It's available in 3 trims, base, plus, and exclaim.

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     The base comes standard with things like 16-inch steel wheels, roof rack mounting points, rear privacy glass, full power accessories, 3 driver selected steering modes, a/c, height adjustable drivers seat, cloth seating surfaces, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, a 60/40 split folding rear seat, Bluetooth, a six speaker sound system with cd player, satellite radio. Keyless entry and cruise control are optional.

     The Soul + adds a more powerful engine, 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, cruise control, a 12-volt power outlet in the cargo area, a cargo cover, upgraded cloth seating surfaces, a fold down rear seat armrest, and a front seat center armrest with storage.

     Optional on the base and Soul + the Uvo eServices package adds automatic headlamps, fog lights,a rear view camera, and the Uvo interface.

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 When equipped with this package, the Soul + becomes eligible for 2 more packages. The Audio Package adds auto a/c, a leather wrapped steering wheel and gear shift knob, simulated leather cabin trim, piano black and satin metallic interior accents, a navigation system, an 8-inch touchscreen display, and an upgraded Infinity audio system with speaker lights and a subwoofer. The Primo Package, which requires the Audio Package, adds a panoramic sunroof, fog lights, keyless ignition and entry, leather upholstery, an 8-way power driver seat with 2-way power lumbar support, heated and ventilated seats, heated rear outboard seats, LED interior lighting and a heated steering wheel.

     An Eco Package, optional on the Soul + adds fuel saving features like an auto stop-start system and low rolling resistance 16-inch tires.

     The top of the line Soul! builds upon the Soul+'s Uvo Package, then adds things like 18-inch alloy wheels, body colored fascia accents and bumpers, LED daytime running lights, power folding side mirrors with integrated LED turn signal indicators, an 8-way power driver seat with 2-way power lumbar, an auto-dimming rear view mirror, further upgraded cloth upholstery, a leather wrapped steering wheel and gear shift knob, simulated leather cabin trim and chrome interior accents.
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     The Soul!'s Sun and Sound package provides a panoramic sunroof, automatic climate control, LED interior lighting, the navigation system, 8-inch touchscreen display, HD radio, and the upgraded Infinity sound system. The Whole Shebang package adds xenon lowbeam headlamps, keyless ignition and entry, an upgraded instrument panel, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel and heated rear outboard seats. The Umber package adds special leather upholstery.

     The front wheel drive 2015 Kia Soul is offered with 2 different engines. The base Soul gets a 1.6 liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 130 horsepower and 118 lb.-ft of torque. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard, and a 6-speed automatic is optional. The EPA's figures for the base Soul come in at 24 city/30 highway for 26 combined with either transmission.

     Soul + and ! models have a 2.0 liter 4 cylinder engine that makes a stout 164 horsepower and 151 lb.-ft of torque. The 6-speed auto transmission is the only transmission. Fuel economy with the 2.0 liter engine is 23 city/31 highway for 26 mpg combined, and the + with the Eco package comes in at 27 mpg combined. I observed 28 mpg during the week with my tester. In performance testing, the Soul ! did 0-60 mph in 8.9 seconds, which is average for a small wagon/hatchback with an upgraded engine.
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 Standard safety equipment for all Soul models include four-wheel antilock disc brakes, hill-start assist, stability and traction control,  front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, and active front head restraints. A rear-view camera is standard on the Soul! and included on the other trims when they are equipped with the optional Uvo eServices package.

     In brake testing, the 2015 Kia Soul came to a stop from 60 mph in 112 feet. While this is a short distance, it is worth noting that my tester for the week had the 18-inch wheels. Souls with the smaller wheels may or may not perform the same. In government crash testing, the Soul earned 5 stars overall, which makes it a safe vehicle for your family.

     With its modern look and expressive styling details, the 2015 Kia Soul has a cabin that offers a pretty good balance between form and function. Quality materials make the interior feel more refined than you might expect for a car in this price range.

     Gauges and controls are logically placed and easy to use, and using the Uvo interface to control your smartphone is pretty easy compared to other systems out there. In addition to upgrading the sound quality, the optional Infinity audio system includes trim rings that light up to the beat of your music. It is more of a marketing gimmick, but I have a feeling that some buyers of the Soul will find it quite fun.

     One of the benefits of the Soul's boxy design is the amount of head and legroom, even in the backseat. Behind the rear seatbacks, you will find 19 cubic feet of cargo space, which will grow to 61 cubic feet when you fold both portions of the 60/40 split folding rear seat down. This is greater than compact wagons, and even more than some smaller SUV's. Worth noting however, is that the now defunct Scion xB can hold more cargo.
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     With respectable power on tap from the 2.0 liter 4 cylinder engine, the Soul is enjoyable around town, and feels satisfyingly quick when merging onto the freeway. The engine does get a bit raspy sounding during hard acceleration, but the automatic transmission shifts smartly and does a decently good job of holding gears on uphill grades to help the car maintain a constant speed. I have yet to drive a Soul with the 1.6, but I suspect that most buyers will opt for the 2.0, seeing as how it has more power, and gets just as good fuel economy.

     While the Soul doesn't really feel overly sporty, it does handle better than you might think. The steering has a reassuring weight to its effort at highway speeds and it feels precise when you are driving around turns. The brake pedal even has a reassuringly firm feel to it too! However, the Soul! does lose some of its appeal on long highway trips, due to the 18-inch wheels not liking to soak up the bumps very well. Also, the boxy shape does result in more wind noise at highway speeds, but if you can overlook this, than the 2015 Kia Soul might be the car for you.

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