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2012 Kia Soul Preview: 2011 New York Auto Show

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Better fuel economy, more power and an amped-up look come to the 2012 Kia Soul, which takes a bow on a stage at the 2011 New York Auto Show today.

For the new model year, Kia's added its version of the new Hyundai/Kia corporate 1.6-liter four-cylinder to the Soul train. It's worth 135 horsepower and 121 pound-feet of torque, a boost of 11 percent according to the automaker. A six-speed manual transmission teams up with the new four to turn in EPA-estimated fuel economy of 28/34 mpg, an increase of 3 mpg, Kia says.

There's also a new 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 160 hp and 143 lb-ft of torque, available on the top three Soul models. With either a six-speed manual or automatic, this Soul gets EPA-estimated ratings of 27/33 mpg.

Spotters will look to some tweaks on the grille to tell 2012 models apart from the 2011 Kia Soul. LED running lights and projector headlamps flow into a reshaped hood, and the rear end's capped with LED taillights.

The cabin earns some more sound deadening, all the better to enjoy a new Infinity sound system--which can be driven through Kia's UVO interface, which uses your voice commands to direct cell-phone dialing and audio fiddling. (In case you've forgotten how it works, our YouTube video's embedded below.)

A new trim package adds leather seats, front-seat heating, a navigation system (which can't be ordered when UVO is specified), and pushbutton start.

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