Why the 2014 Kia Soul Matters:
What fun it would have been to attend the original Kia Soul pitch meeting with the automaker’s senior leadership. “We’re gonna build this 5-door hatchback for Americans who hate hatchbacks, and to keep the costs down we’re gonna put it on the Rio platform. And then, these hilarious rapping rodents are gonna sell it on TV. People will go nuts for it. It will be a ginormous success.”
The person giving that presentation must have been all packed up and ready to stand in the unemployment line.
Rarely has an automaker achieved so much with so little. What made the original Soul compelling wasn’t the low price tag associated with its humble origins, or the lyrical hamsters appearing in the Soul’s commercials. Rather, the original Soul had soul, character, embodied in styling that made the youth-oriented “urban utility vehicle” stand far apart from the usual econo-car. Better yet, it looked and felt like a genuine bargain, and offered compelling practicality no matter the buyer’s age.
Now, at the 2013 New York Auto Show, Kia has introduced a redesigned 2014 Soul. The car looks much like the original, and since the now-famous rapping hamsters introduced the new 2014 Soul in New York it would appear that Kia is taking a familiar road with marketing. As they say on reality TV, “Don’t fix what ain’t broke, Junior.”
What’s New for the 2014 Kia Soul:
- Longer and wider on the outside
- Roomier and quieter on the inside
- Higher quality interior materials
- New seats for improved comfort
- Larger cargo capacity
- Optional heated front and rear seats
- Optional ventilated driver’s seat
- Optional heated steering wheel
- Optional power panoramic sunroof
New 2014 Kia Soul: Styling and Design
Honestly, I fear the new longer and wider Soul might have lost a little of its mojo as it has grown in size, just like people do when they age and eat unhealthy food. The outgoing 2013 Soul has an edgy, jaunty look and the wheels on the top-of-the-line model look huge. Today’s Soul looks a little bit like an oversized roller skate, or a bulldog riding a skateboard, and in a good way.
By contrast, the new 2014 Soul’s softer and lidded headlight forms, larger and more organic taillight shapes, plastic “Tiger Nose” grille insert, and flower-petal aluminum wheel design just don’t appeal to me. The car is unmistakably a Soul; signature styling cues carry into the new model intact. It’s just that the result isn’t stirring my soul. Maybe I’ll change my mind once this car hits the pavement.
Kia says it has added soft-touch surfaces and premium materials to the redesigned 2014 Soul’s cabin, and this is a welcome change from the current model’s hose-it-out level of interior quality. The seat hip points are lower this year, as is the step-in height, which means the Soul is easier to get into and out of than before.
New 2014 Kia Soul: What’s Under the Hood
If you’re like me, thinking a 2014 Kia Soul Turbo would be a great addition to the lineup, you’re going to be disappointed. The standard engine is a direct-injected 1.6-liter 4-cylinder making 130 horsepower at 6,300 rpm and 118 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,850 rpm. A 6-speed manual gearbox is standard with this powerplant, with a 6-speed automatic optional. Both transmissions drive the Soul’s front wheels.
A more powerful direct-injected 2.0-liter 4-cylinder is optional, cranking 164 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 151 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm. This engine is offered only with a 6-speed automatic.
If it’s any consolation, Kia does say that both engines are tuned to improve low-speed response and acceleration. But yeah, a turbocharged 1.6-liter with 200 horses and a broad spread of torque would definitely make the Soul’s optional rally stripes more convincing.
New 2014 Kia Soul: Features and Technology
Every 2014 Soul is equipped with FlexSteer electric steering that offers driver-selected Comfort, Normal, and Sport settings. The Soul’s standard 6-speaker stereo system is robust for the price point, including Bluetooth, a USB port, an auxiliary audio input jack, and three free months of satellite radio service.
Choose the mid-grade Soul Plus or the top-of-the-line Soul Exclaim, and the car is equipped with UVO eServices technology. Pair a smartphone to the system, and a long list of subscription-free access to services, applications, and more are at the driver’s fingertips.
The Soul Exclaim is the only model equipped with LED running lights, LED taillights, and a Supervision Thin Film Transistor (TFT) LCD instrumentation display. This version of the new Soul also has automatic climate control, push-button starting, a 10-way power driver’s seat, and a cooled glove box.
Among the options offered for the new 2014 Soul Plus and Exclaim are leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a ventilated driver’s seat, and a power panoramic sunroof. A navigation system and a premium Infinity audio system are also offered for the model.
New 2014 Kia Soul: What Autobytel Thinks
There are a number of things to like about the redesigned 2014 Kia Soul. All it really needs is a turbocharged engine option. Whaddaya say, Kia?