I finally understand why those hamsters are always dancing and happy. I have the 2014 Kia Soul this week, a boxy SUV that, in the past, I have never been high on. In fact, when listeners who called the Car Pro Show asked me about a Soul, I generally said “it’s OK. It has a lot of road noise and the interior is cheap, but it has a great warranty.” Apparently, Kia was listening because they have addressed all my concerns.
This is the first redesign of the Soul since it debuted in 2009. Outwardly, you won’t notice a lot of change, but inside the difference from last year to this year is night and day. The materials used for the interior are top notch and the layout of the controls is exceptional. My test vehicle has leather interior and it’s as nice as any I have seen.
Under the hood, this one has the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, although there is a 1.6-liter available, and this one has a 6-speed automatic transmission. This engine feels like it has more than 164-horsepower and the 2.0 moves this 2700 pound SUV very well, while delivering terrific fuel economy, especially on the highway.
The new Soul comes in three models, the base, the +, and the !, and I wonder why they did not just name the two upper models plus and exclamation, but I digress. I have the top-of-the-line ! model and it has an impressive list of standard features like 18” wheels, power windows and locks, rearview camera, power seat, keyless entry, pushbutton start, steering wheel controls, and power-folding mirrors.
My tester has two packages added to it. The Sun & Sound package will set you back $2600 and gets you automatic climate control, a panoramic sunroof with power cover, and an exceptional navigation system with an 8” color screen. The UVO Bluetooth system is easy to operate and works great.
Then there is the Whole Shabang package (I did not make that up) and for $2500 you get the Infinity audio system, which sounds great, and the door speakers light up and flash to the beat of the music, which I think is pretty cool. You also get leather seating, heated and cooled seats, heated rear seat, and a heated steering wheel. I would have never dreamed you could get a heated steering wheel on a Kia Soul.
For 2014 the Soul is slightly longer, wider, and lower. Kia also changed the suspension system, which resulted in a much better ride and improved handling. There is a ton of headroom in the front, slightly less in the back seat because of the way the roof slants slightly. If you fold the back seat down, you get an amazing 61 cubic feet of cargo area.
Kia did an exceptional job with this vehicle. They fixed everything I hated about the last version. Soul drives great, it’s quiet, and it no longer looks cheap on the inside. Plus, you still get the great warranty. Dollar for dollar, it is an exceptional value.
What I liked most: The interior and overall value.
What I would change: More stand alone options instead of expensive packages.
MSRP: Base price $20,300, as equipped $26,195.
Fuel Economy: EPA rated at 23 City/31 Highway,
2014 Kia Soul in a few words: Makes me want to dance with the hamsters!
Warranty: 5 year/60,000 bumper-to-bumper with roadside assistance, 10 year/100,000 miles Powertrain warranty.
Car Pro Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars.
Dealers: If you want a Kia product, we have dealers in Houston, Fresno, Phoenix, Sacramento, and San Antonio.
Manufacturer’s website: http://www.kia.com/us/#/soul