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Kia bares its 2014 Soul, offering a better ride

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John Minchillo/AP

(Read caption) A Kia "Hamstar" mascot poses for a photograph with the newly unveiled 2014 Kia Soul during the 2013 New York International Auto Show Wednesday in New York. The updated people mover comes with electric steering that allows drivers to choose comfort, normal, and sport settings.

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Though Kia has, on occasion, missed the mark with vehicles in the United States (such as its Borrego SUV), there’s no denying that its Soul “urban passenger vehicle” is a solid hit that seems to defy demographics.

Though pitched at Millennial buyers, we’ve seen plenty of fifty-somethings behind the wheel, too. Drive a Soul and it’s easy to see why: the diminutive MPV is practical, affordable and nimble enough to provide some degree of entertainment value.

For 2014, Kia has an all-new Soul to talk about, and it’s launching its funky people mover at this week’s New York AutoShow. Kia says the new Soul was born from the Track’ster concept, but the only similarities we see are the new Soul’s wider stance and updated front fascia.

The 2014 Soul is longer, too, and blessed with a stiffened chassis to reduce noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). Though you may not feel it in urban cruising, the new platform’s 28.7 percent increase in torsional rigidity should help in the twisty bits, especially when you factor in the “significant suspension upgrades” Kia refers to.

Up front, four subframe bushings help reduce ride harshness, the stabilizer bar has been moved rearward and the steering box has been moved forward; Kia claims the result is better on-center feel and improved handling. Out back, the rear shock absorbers have been reoriented and lengthened to boost ride comfort.

The 2014 Soul gets the same multi-setting electric steering unveiled on the 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT. Drivers can choose between Comfort, Normal and Sport settings, but only the steering effort (and not the ratio) actually changes.

Under hood, Base Souls get a direct-injected 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, rated at 130 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque and bolted to either a six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic transmission.

Stepping up to the Plus or Exclaim trims gets you a direct-injected 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine, good for 164 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. Plus versions can be had with either six-speed gearbox, but the Exclaim comes only with Kia’s six-speed automatic.

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Base Soul models come with a sizable list of amenities, including Bluetooth connectivity; SiriusXM satellite radio; a six-speaker audio system; a telescoping steering wheel and power locks, windows and side mirrors.

Choose the Soul Plus, and you’ll also get 17-inch alloy wheels; side mirror-embedded turn signals; auto on/off headlights; unique fender trim; a floor console storage box; Kia’s UVO eServices; a rearview camera and a rear center arm rest.

Atop the range is the Soul Exclaim, which adds 18-inch alloy wheels; fog lights; unique bumpers; projector headlights; LED running lights; LED tail lights; a piano black center console; a cooled glove box; a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear knob; a 10-way power driver’s seat and an auto dimming rearview mirror.

The 2014 Kia Soul will hit dealers in the third quarter of 2013, and pricing will be announced closer to launch.

Want more from New York? You’ll find breaking news, live images and videos on our dedicated New York Auto Show page.

 


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