IRVINE, Calif., June 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- From breakthrough advertising to runaway sales success, the Kia Soul has made quite a splash since entering the marketplace in 2009, and today the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Initial Quality Study (IQS) ranked the popular urban passenger vehicle highest in initial quality in the compact multi-purpose vehicle segment. The study captures feedback from owners after 90 days of purchase in two distinct categories: quality of design and quality of production. Refreshed for the 2012 model year, the Kia Soul was fine-tuned with a significant number of technological, powertrain and style enhancements, and consumers have responded with sales up more than 22 percent through the first five months of the year.
"Kia Motors is dedicated to building world-class, high quality vehicles, and the Soul's recognition in the automotive industry's authoritative study on quality is the latest example of Kia's maturity and momentum in the U.S. market," said B.M. Ahn, group president and CEO, Kia Motors America (KMA) and Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG). "The Soul signaled the beginning of Kia's design-led transformation when it launched in 2009, and it continues to be one of our most popular vehicles, attracting new consumers to the Kia brand with its eye-catching design and outstanding record of quality, dependability and reliability and playing a vital role in Kia becoming the fastest-growing automotive brand in the U.S."
In the study, the Kia Soul was honored as the highest-ranking model in the compact multi-purpose vehicle segment, while the Kia brand made significant advancements with gains that outpaced the industry average. The annual report includes 233 vehicle models and measures attributes across eight categories, including the driving experience, engine and transmission, and a broad range of quality problem symptoms reported by vehicle owners.
About the 2012 Soul
Refreshed for the 2012 model year, the Kia Soul has been fine-tuned with a significant number of technological, powertrain and style enhancements. The 2012 Soul delivers class-leading horsepower and significantly improved fuel efficiency of up to 35 miles per gallon (mpg) on the highway. Kia Motors' hatchback remains a class-leading value with the lowest starting price of its competitive set at $13,900 MSRP.
Kia's Unprecedented Growth
Kia Motors is one of the world's fastest moving global automotive brands; from 2009-2011 Kia launched more new vehicles in the U.S. than any other automaker, and under the guidance of chief design officer Peter Schreyer earned a reputation as an industry leader in automotive styling. Kia Motors America's full line of fuel-efficient and fun-to-drive cars and CUVs has earned critical acclaim and dramatically increased consumer awareness, perception and consideration for the brand. In 2011, KMA recorded its 17th consecutive year of market share growth, thanks in part to the largest increase of any major brand in perceived quality and the industry's highest brand loyalty ranking. Kia's U.S.-based manufacturing facility in West Point, Georgia - KMMG - is responsible for the creation of more than 10,000 plant and supplier jobs and builds two of the company's best-selling vehicles in the U.S. - the Sorento CUV and Optima midsize sedan*. Kia's value and technology-laden lineup also includes the Sportage compact CUV, Soul urban passenger vehicle, Optima Hybrid, Forte compact sedan, Forte 5-door compact hatchback, Forte Koup two-door coupe, Rio and Rio 5-door sub-compacts and Sedona minivan.
About Kia Motors America
Kia Motors America is the marketing and distribution arm of Kia Motors Corporation based in Seoul, South Korea. KMA offers a complete line of vehicles through more than 755 dealers throughout the United States and serves as the "Official Automotive Partner" of the NBA and LPGA. In 2011, KMA recorded its best-ever annual sales total and became one of the fastest growing car companies in the U.S. Kia is poised to continue its momentum and will continue to build the brand through design innovation, quality, value, advanced safety features and new technologies.
* Sorento and Optima GDI (EX Trims and certain LX Trims only) and GDI Turbo are assembled in the United States from U.S. and globally sourced parts.
 Based on 5-year cumulative growth between 12-month retail sales for periods ending February 2007 and February 2012 of all U.S. automotive brands.
 Class-leading 164 horsepower claim for available 2.0L MPI engine based on comparison of 2012 (and available 2013 compact wagons) as of May 2012.
 2012 EPA fuel economy estimates are 27 mpg/city and 35 mpg/hwy with standard 1.6L GDI engine. Actual mileage will vary.
 Based on comparisons to 2012 competitors as May 2012.
 Starting price is manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) for lowest trim level. MSRP excludes $750 destination and handling fee, title, taxes, license, options and dealer charges. Actual prices set by dealer and may vary.
 Source: Automotive Lease Guide Spring 2011 Perceived Quality Study.
 Source: Experian Automotive Q2 2011 market analysis.
SOURCE Kia Motors America