When Scion released one of the countries most hip square boxed hatches, the teens went nuts. Kia quickly responded to this trend and launched the Soul. Unlike the Scion xB; today, the Soul remains that quirky eye-catching hamster-hatch that all the youngsters still heart-throb over.
2014 marked a good year for the Soul; redesigning its already groovy style to being even funkier. A new set of curves have been added making the Soul very keen to the eye; or it could be the decked out Alien Green paint job. The front has gained more spunk with a new set of headlamps, black body molds, and finished off with smooth body wrapped black taillights. Spring for the top of the line “!” (Exclaim) and upgrade those groovy lights with LED’s all around.
For this week we have the Soul +; middle range model that offers up an array of stylish features. Ours was sporting the Alien 2 Green paint with a new set of 17″ alloy shoes, LED indicated side mirrors and a $3,000 optional Primo Package. Splurging for the Primo Package gives the Soul an extravagant look adding fog lamps and a panoramic moon roof… plus many interior features.
Inside you’ll find loads of features, technology and even luxury quality. Something you would never expect in this class. 2-tone leather washes over the smooth dash accented by piano black, alien green stitching and pop-up speakers. Opt for the $1,400 Audio Package and the dash gets upgraded with an 8” touch screen Navigation system with Infinity Sound System, glowing mood speakers and Automatic Climate Control. The Soul has transformed into one groovy beat box on wheels. Specially when you start jamming to your tunes through the bluetooth.
But that’s just the beginning of the options list… Kia doesn’t mess about! The Primo Package loads up the Soul with tons of goodies: Push Button Start, Leather Seats, Heated Front and Rear Seats, Cooled Front Seats, Heated Steering Wheel… the list just keeps going.
Kia didn’t skimp on the quality when it comes to their operating system. The UVO Connect is a fantastic setup that is completely user friendly. Searching for a POI or needing an address is easy through the voice command system. The Navigation is definitely one of the best units on the market with exit lane guidance, traffic update, and 3D mapping along with an incredibly clear back-up camera. Using this system through the leather wrapped steering wheel may look like an abundance of buttons, but the steering controls are fully functional and well laid out for easy use.
The Soul sits on a new wider and longer wheel base expanding the interior volume greatly, which you start to notice when you and your friends start to pile in. The 2-tone leather seats are tremendously comfortable; 3 adults were able to fit comfortably in the back seat; even with a panoramic moon-roof there was plenty of headroom for passenger over 6-feet tall. The lavish trunk capacity is quite good with a secret compartment underneath, and the 60/40 seats fold flat for large bulky items.
Then, things start to go a bit weary when you put your foot down. There is 164hp that powers the front hamster wheels through a 6-speed automatic 2.0L engine. 151lb-ft torque helps get you from 0-60 in a little over 8 seconds. But when you give it the beans, there is a delayed response in the transmission, the engine sounds like its struggling to accelerate and at high revs the 6-speed is jerky through the gears. Interestingly enough it corners like a hamster; the Soul has 3 different handling modes: Comfort, Normal, and Sport. We left it normal 99% of the time. Given the short wheelbase it is super easy to park with an excellent turning circle, making for snappy U-turns on two lane roads. It even stops fairly quickly too, but the brakes feel unresponsive in the petal.
For its size the suspension was very smooth and the gas mileage was decent. 25mpg city and 31mpg highway virtually hits the mark from the monroney with 375 miles of energy to burn. Out of juice? Fuel ups caught us by surprise costing $40 using unleaded fuel on a 14.2 gallon tank.
This Soul has grown up substantially and gained a lot of spunk value. A lot of boxy hatches barely can compare when it comes to the technology and features found in the Soul. Realistically speaking though, at the cost of this Soul +; best go all the way with the “!” (Exclaim) getting bigger wheels, LED lights, and nicer looking overall body style.
|Price (As Tested):|
|2014 Kia Soul+:||$18,200|
|Carpeted Floor Mats:||$115|
|UVO w/ eServices:||$500|