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Established 2004

REVIEW: Maturity arrives for 2014 Kia Soul

The new 2014 Kia Soul design includes a radical rear-lights design.

Nearly a decade after the Honda Element debuted, the Kia Soul joined a few other brands in the car-in-a-box lineup in 2010. The niche group gained a lot of attention, good and bad, for their uniquely styled exteriors.

But the 2014 Kia Soul is now maturely immersed in the auto scene. It’s no longer a novelty item, especially since gaining its first redesign.

New this year is increased attention to the quality of the materials used in the interior as well as improved cargo space, now 61 cubic feet.

The 2014 Kia Soul has been redesigned.
The 2014 Kia Soul has been redesigned.

The Kia Soul has always offered a hefty list of standard features, but also new for 2014 as options are a panoramic sunroof and an upgraded Uvo eServices package that includes streaming Internet radio capability for smartphone users.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

My weekly driver was the top-line Soul! Like all full-loaded vehicles, entry level to full-boat luxury, the 2014 Kia Soul! includes other trims’ offering and then expands. Te Soul! adds 18-inch wheels, body-colored bumpers, LED daytime running lights, upgraded headlights, foglights, power-folding side mirrors, the 10-way power driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a cooled glovebox and all the items in the Uvo eServices package as standard.

The optional Sun and Sound package provides the panoramic sunroof, automatic climate control, navigation system, upgraded Infinity Audio system and speaker lights.

The Whole Shabang Package (yes, that’s the name) adds xenon headlights (low-beams only), keyless ignition, an upgraded instrument panel, leather upholstery, heated/ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats.

Driving the 2014 Kia Soul is a combination of fun, practicality and versatility. It’s a wagon, but it’s also a small SUV, isn’t it? The engine dynamics have been tweaked for 2014, so the Kia drives with an improved peppiness.

There’s plenty of room for front and rear-seat passengers, but front seat occupants have a more comfortable experience. Rear occupants in my drives with friends noted, “feeling every bump.”

Steering is nimble and maneuvering around town, through parking lots and in highway situations is accomplished without blind spots. The Kia Soul’s fun-to-drive attitude is fine. It’s a keen alternative to tradition in the industry, and innovation is healthy, right?

Likes:

Designers did a great job with passenger and cargo space distribution.

Long list of standard features.

Strong warranty.

Dislikes:

Would have expected better fuel economy.

How about a little better acceleration next year?

Rough ride for rear seat passengers.

Facts & Figures: 2014 Kia Soul

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 8.7 seconds.
Airbags: (6)
Fuel economy: 23 mpg (city), 31 mpg (highway), 26 mpg (combined), 4-cylinder, six-speed automatic transmission.
Horsepower: 164.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $20,300.00.
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.kia.com.
Price As Tested: $26,195.00
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 5 years/60,000 miles; Powertrain, 10 years/100,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/1000,000 miles; Roadside Assistance, 5 years/60,000 miles.

What Others Say:

“Like a boutique hotel, it has premium qualities that are a cut above the other choices, but it’s value-priced.” — Automobile Magazine.

“It’s cool, connected and inexpensive, which is what the kids seem to want today. Their parents might want it, too.” — AutoWeek.

“The 2014 Kia Soul is beautiful inside and out, impressively refined for its $15,495 starting price (that’s including destination) and can march on proudly as a wonderfully practical compact car alternative.” — Kelley Blue Book.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“I’ve gotten over the unique body style, an easy target of critics. The Kia Soul, like all of its siblings in their segment, is a serious contender in the small SUV/crossover market.”

 

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