The first Kia Soul model was sold in 2010. Since then, the Soul has become a favorite of everyone from urban dwellers looking for a fuel-efficient compact with personality, to those who appreciate its low profile with easy trunk and rider access. 2014 brings its first major redesign since 2010, and it quite the transformation.
The Soul is known for its funky boxy design; Kia’s priority was to stay true to that while making their 2014 model unique and special but obviously evolved. They succeeded. The 2014 Kia has improved dynamics; it draws inspiration from a wild boar, as seen by its “tusks” on the front, and it has more sophisticated and nuanced subtle wheel forms over the wheels that give the car a solid, planted look. The 2014 Soul is lower, longer, and wider, and it has improved rigidity and solidity. I’ve just returned from a trip to Minneapolis (my first), where I gathered with other writers to see and drive the 2014 Kia Soul.
The Track’ster show car in Chicago last year was the interior’s inspiration, and the Soul’s designers kept as many of the Track’ster’s circular interior reference points as possible.
The Soul has soft touch materials throughout, with high quality textures and finishes, and solid door panels; everything is made to feel solid. The Kia Soul gives an expensive experience in an affordable car. Kia Soul customers wanted a more refined ride and driving experience, and that is what Kia aimed to give them with the 2014 Soul.
Two engines are available, the 1.6L base engine, and a 2L engine. There are 6 total air bags, as well as 8 different passive and active safety systems that work together for safety performance. The Kia Soul is 85% recyclable, and it has 95% “recoverability”. (Recoverability means that at the end of its life, parts are easily separated so they can be recycled. In other words, the parts are mechanically fastened together versus being fused together for easier separating.)
And then there is the Infinity stereo by Harman. There were no stereo equalizer presets, just a highs, lows, and mids slider hidden inside the menu, but overall the stereo sounded very good, especially when it was turned up a bit.
There was one feature that I’ve never seen stock in a vehicle before: the door panel speaker on each side would light up and oscillate colors as audio played. The lights weren’t so bright as to be obnoxious or distracting; rather, the effect was subtle and kind of cool.
While the 2014 Soul will have a base price well below $20K, we were sent out in fully loaded models that had the 2.0L 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed automatic, electric power steering, and 18″ alloy wheels. They also had navigation, automatic climate control, a panoramic sunroof with power sunshade, the Infinity audio system, and the aforementioned speaker lights. Our test drive cars also had what Kia calls the “Whole Shebang Package”, which includes HID low-beam headlights, push-button start with smart key, leather seat trim, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, the supervision meter cluster with 4.3″ color LCD (it’s gorgeous), and an engine immobilizer. In other words, we were driving an economy car that came with far more features than many higher-end cars. Fully loaded, our Kia Souls had an MSRP of $26,195.
Now all that was left was for Helena and me to take the Soul out for a drive. [You can read her thoughts about our drive by clicking here.]
What impressed me most about the Souls we were driving was that they were incredibly peppy cars; they had lots of punch and great pick up. The muffler was tuned so that the car sounded aggressive and powerful (without being obnoxious); despite having a smaller engine, the Soul drove and sounded like a high-end, sporty car.
My current vehicle doesn’t have navigation, and I don’t consider myself to be an expert on navigation interfaces, so perhaps what I most appreciated about the Soul’s navigational system was that everything was so easy to operate and figure out. The screen was large, and the system was satisfyingly intuitive.
The 2014 Kia Soul delivers a super smooth ride; it has great handling, even on slippery wet roads. Our test drive was during a minor rain storm, and even though I am used to driving a much larger vehicle, not once did the car make me feel uncertain, unsafe, or incapable. The interior is surprisingly roomy and comfortable; I am 5’10″, and I had plenty of leg room, arm room, room in the seat, and the roof was at least 4-5″ above my head; in other words, this may be a small car, but it doesn’t feel like one.
While the 2014 Kia Soul is all about expressing yourself and yes, transformation, I have to admit that no amount of features or great styling could make me like the (baby poop) tan/brown color. Evidently I liked it so little that I didn’t get a single photo of it. =P
I’ll wrap up with photos taking in and around Minneapolis, but I should mention that for those who have been waiting, the Soul EV will be Kia’s first all-electric vehicle in the US; it will be debuting in 2014.
Oh, and did I mention that along with some other writers, Helena and I sumo wrestled?
Well, we did.
Disclaimer: Kia paid for my travel, room, and meals; there were no conditions or expectations made regarding what I chose to write about regarding my experience.