2014 Kia Soul at the 2013 New York Auto Show

By David Thomas  on March 27, 2013

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  • Competes with: Nissan Cube, Scion xB
  • Looks like: A rounder, cuddlier version of the 2013 Soul
  • Drivetrain: 130-hp, 1.6-liter four-cylinder or 164-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder both with six-speed manual or automatic transmission
  • Hits dealerships: Fall 2013

Commercials with hamsters, funky looks and a rock-bottom price have helped catapult the Soul close to the top of Kia's sales since it debuted in 2009. Today, the company unveiled a redesigned Soul that may look similar to the current model but is bigger — slightly — inside and out.

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Styling is based on last year's Track'ster concept, which was a two-door we thought would make an interesting alternative to the Mini Cooper. Instead, Kia applied the look to the Soul and its broader audience.

Overall size increases aren't huge, but the Soul was a small car to begin with. The wheelbase has grown nearly an inch to 101.2 inches, while the width increased 0.6 inches. The height remains the same but no overall length figures were given. The moves were to increase interior room, which also increases fractionally:

  • Front legroom: plus 0.8 inches
  • Rear legroom: plus 0.2 inches
  • Front headroom: plus 0.2 inches
  • Front shoulder room: plus 0.3 inches

Cargo room bumps up half a cubic foot overall to 24.2 cubic feet while the cargo area's opening has widened 2.4 inches.

Powering the little runabout are two engines. In the base model — aptly named Base — there is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine good for 130 horsepower that comes standard with a six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic transmission. The 1.6-liter engine in the current Soul produces 138 hp.

Move up to the Plus mode — it seems Kia has given up using the plus sign as a designation — and the engine is a 164-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder with either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. The top trim level called Exclaim — nope, no exclamation point either — has the same engine but is only equipped with a six-speed automatic.

Standard features across the lineup include power windows, heated outside mirrors, telescoping steering wheel, six-speaker stereo with USB input, Sirius satellite radio and Bluetooth.

An optional UVO multimedia system is available, making the 2014 Soul the first Kia to use an Android-based operating system. But this new system will work with both Android and iPhone smartphones.

The 8-inch touch-screen is capacitive touch and even features videos on how to use the various applications from navigation to Pandora.

These alterations look to keep the Soul a sales leader at Kia — as long as the price stays low.

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Managing Editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon.  Email David