Last Update: Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Soul, Seriously: Kia Dresses Up Its Hamster Mobile in 2014 Redesign PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mark Maynard | Creative Syndicate   
Wednesday, 23 April 2014 23:43

Photo Credit Creative Syndicate

The Kia Soul is sold in three trim levels with two engine choices and two transmissions. Solar Yellow, Kale Green and Inferno Red are new colors.

Meet the new Soul, which looks pretty much like the old Soul -- but, wow, is it revitalized under the skin and inside.

Not that the old Kia Soul was rough. When it came out in 2009 the Soul set a standard for what's possible in a wellequipped economy car. And now, the re-engineered 2014 Soul pushes the expectations again.

The test car, for example, was near-luxury in its features and feel. It had a panoramic sunroof (it's huge) with a power sunshade and perforated leather-trimmed upholstery (uncommonly supple for economy leather) with heated AND cooled front seats and heated back seats. There was a heated steering wheel and pushbutton ignition with smart-key locking.

Those kinds of extras, part of two factory option packages, pushed the sticker to $26,195. That's a big dollar sign, but the average price of a new-vehicle is $30,000.

The Soul is sold in three trim levels with two engine choices and two transmissions. The basic Soul with 130-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine connects with a six-speed manual transmission or optional six-speed automatic ($2,000). Pricing starts at $15,695, including the $795 freight charge form Korea. Standard equipment includes power windows-locks-mirrors, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, six-speaker audio system with satellite radio and Bluetooth phone connection, eight air bags and electronic stability control and braking assists.

The Plus and Exclaim models spin the wheel with a more sophisticated 164-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder with direct injection and standard six-speed automatic.

The top-line Exclaim gets all the hamster-cool extras, such as 18-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, body-color bumper "tusks," projector headlights, LED running lights and rear LED "halo" lights. Inside, there is glossy black trim, a cooled glove box and 10-way poweradjustable driver's seat with lumbar adjustment. The test car also had the front speaker LED mood lighting that pulses with the beat of the tunes.

The new chassis is stiffer and a little longer and wider, which added incremental passenger room. Front headroom is tall at 39.6 inches and the front seat height and step-in height are slightly lower, which eases access but retains commandof- road visibility. Soft-touch materials on the instrument panel, center console and door panels have a quality appearance.

The cabin is well soundproofed and there is very little road roughness or wind noise. Sightlines can be complicated looking around the windshield pillars at the large side mirrors, but the driver will learn to look twice when turning left.

There is good utility and useful storage areas throughout, including a charging e-bin just ahead of the shifter where there are two 12-volt plug, a USB and an audio aux-in port. The glove box is large and lighted.

The rear seats fold 60/40 for a boxy cargo capacity and rear legroom is big-sedan long at 39.1 inches.

Ride quality is tight and controlled, with a maneuverable 34.8-foot turning circle. Braking is confident from fourwheel disc brakes -- 11-inch vented rotors front and solid 10.3-inch rear.

The 2.0-liter engine has good kick and the six-speed automatic makes easy shifts to keep the power in the sweet spot. Fuel economy is 23 mpg city, 31 highway on 87 octane. I was getting a consistent 25 to 26 mpg combined city/highway, which is what the EPA rates.

You might expect more mileage from a small car, but this is more of a bread van for aerodynamics with a curb weight of 2,837 pounds. An Active Eco System stretches fuel economy by electronically regulating parts of the engine, transmission and air conditioning. Kia claims the system can improve mileage by around 11 percent. The effect was almost transparent, but I could sense some kind of transmission adaptation (or something), but it wasn't a negative interference.

The base Soul is the business-delivery express. But when moving up to the Plus and Exclaim models, the whole Soul experience seems more substantial and mature. The hamsters are all dressed up now and the word "economy" is not in the business plan.

Mark Maynard is online at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Find photo galleries and more news at

Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 April 2014 23:56

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