2014 Kia Soul - Heels on Wheels Review By Katrina Ramser
HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel
KATRINA SAYS: Performance and interior improvements for the 2014 Kia Soul continue to keep this cube-on-wheels a popular urbanite choice.
INTRO TO THE SOUL VEHICLE
The Soul continues to satisfy city dwellers with its cubic function, and the 2014 model year retunes two gasoline-direct injection engines and revises the suspension for a firmer road feel. A more serious redesign also stretches the body for more rear legroom, and it is a lot plushier and more tech-savvy inside than years past.
I drove a 2014 Kia Soul with the standard and now direct-injection 164-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired to a six-speed automatic transmission with an Active Eco System. Available in three quirky trims represented by punctuation marks, my top-of-the-line exclamation point trim came with the following standard equipment: leatherette upholstery; a ten-way power driver’s seat; a leather-wrapped steering wheel with mounted controls; USB and auxiliary input jacks; Bluetooth; UVO eServices technology; rear camera display; fog lights; and eighteen-inch alloy wheels. Total vehicle price as described came to $20,300.
The technology, powertrain and design enhancements are the draw to the Kia Soul. Main competitors include other boxy rides like the Nissan Cube and Scion xB, along with the Jeep Patriot, Fiat 500, VW Beetle coupe and Chevrolet Sonic.
HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA
Stylish But Comfortable Results: Optional equipment for my test drive included the $2,600 Sun and Sound Package (panoramic sunroof, eight-inch navigation touchscreen, upgraded Infinity audio system, HD Radio) and a $2,500 The Whole Shabang Package (HID projector beam headlights, push-button start, heated front and rear seats). The cabin is done in quality black leather and craftsmanship evident throughout. For a liftgate with no power opening, it folds down quite easily at the lightest touch, and cargo gets clever with an under-the-floor cubic divider for all your smaller traveling items. I’d advise more athletic accessories like a rear spoiler and bumper appliqué to remove the quirk and insert the sport.
Reliability & Safety Factor: The 2014 Kia Soul is a Top Safety Pick with The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for ratings of “Good” in all crash-test areas. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives it an overall rating of 5-Stars – up one from last year. Safety standards include dual front seat and full side airbags; anti-lock brakes with brake assist; ESC; electronic-brake distribution; traction control; tires pressure monitoring; front and rear crumple zones; side impact beams; LATCH; front three-point seat belts with force imitators; and Hill-start Assist Control.
Cost Issues: Staring base price for the Kia Soul is $14,900. My fully loaded Soul “!” totaled out at $26,195. A base Chevrolet Spark EV starts at $19,185; a Jeep Patriot at $15,995; and a VW Beetle coupe at $20,295.
Activity & Performance Ability: Handling gets sharper and the 2-liter powertrain is responsive for a ride that feels comfortable around town and on the highways – but maybe not a longer road trip. The steering wheel radius is not as generous as anticipated. While rear visibly is a prized characteristic, the rear-quarter windows don’t offer any and cars can creep up in your blindside. Shifting does offer manual-style action, but paddle shifters are needed up really up the fun factor.
The Green Concern: Fuel economy is where the Soul needs to continue to put focus on at 23-city and 31-highway for a combined 26 miles-per-gallon – up one mile-per-gallon from last year. The weaker 1.6-lier fairs the same. The Cube gets 27 miles-per-gallon city and 31 highway, with the Sonic hitting 29 miles-per-gallon city and the new milestone, 40 highway.
FINAL PARTING WORDS
Putting the focus on what matters, the 2014 Kia Soul sees improved the technology and performance for a unique cube has the cargo capacity, dimensions, and connectivity needed to keep urbanites pleased.
©2014 Katrina Ramser