Remember the KIA Track’ster? That awesome 250 hp AWD concept car KIA introduced at the 2012 Chicago Auto Show? (Note: the white, concept-looking car.) Well, it’s not here yet, but with the release of the 2014 KIA Soul, we’re at least getting a a little taste in the looks department.
|STATS||Starting Retail Price||As Tested Price||HP / Lb-Ft|
|2014 KIA Soul!||$20,300||$25,400||164 / 151|
|EPA Rating MPG||As Tested MPG|
|Rating: BUY IT!||23/31 Combined 26||Combined 20|
Sure the Track’ster is a 3-door hatch and the Soul is a 5-door, but the similarities in the front and rear are unmistakable. The upper grill is now more in line with the headlights, fog lights have been moved outward, and the rear now boasts a floating body colored panel just like the rear of the Track’ster. The Soul is still a shoebox of a car, but these styling cues make it a bit more aggressive and it’s now got a newly tuned GDI engine to boot.
The KIA Soul comes in three trim lines: Base, Plus, and Exclaim. We were fortunate enough to have the top of the line Exclaim. This 2.0L engine knocks out 164 horsepower and 151 lb/ft of torque. Power goes to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission and only a six-speed automatic. If you want a manual, you’ll have to drop down to the Base Soul with a 1.6L engine. EPA fuel ratings for the Exclaim are 23 MPG in the city, 31 MPG in the highway, and 26 MPG combined. A week of mostly city driving with a 56 mile round trip on the highway netted a real world rating of 20 MPG. The Soul starts at $20,300 and a fully loaded Soul! can be yours for $25,400.
One of the biggest complaints of the previous model was its harsh ride. For 2014, that problem has been solved. The Soul now rides easily over rough roads, even with the 18” alloy wheels.
The Soul handles better as well, thanks to a 28.7 percent increase in rigidity. It feels well planted in corners and offers decent off the line grunt, due to a re-tuning of the engine for more low end torque. The standard FlexSteer system gives you the option of Comfort, Normal, and Sport steering. Comfort is frightening light but Normal sharpens things up nicely, with the Sport adding even more confidence inspiring weight. Shifts in the six-speed automatic are smooth, but the option of a manual would be an improvement.
Inside the Soul! benefits from power accessories, Bluetooth, iPod connectivity, satellite radio, keyless entry, cruise control, a multi-functional leather wrapped steering wheel, tilt and telescoping steering column, and a power driver’s seat.
It’s worth it to shell out the $2,600 for the option Sun & Sound Package, which gives you navigation with an 8” screen, an Infinity sound system, nifty speaker lights that pulse with the beat of your music, and automatic climate control. However, it’s really all about the panoramic sunroof, which gives passengers a view like no other.
Also optional is the $2,500 – The Whole Shabang Package. Yes, that’s what it is called. Here you’re paying for HID low-beam headlights, push button start, leather seat trim, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and the Supervision Meter Cluster with a 4.3” color LCD screen which gives you technical information about your car and includes a compass. Worth it if you live in a cold weather climate.
There is plenty of room to haul your gear as well, though access to that space can be tricky. With the 60/40 rear seats folded up you’ve got 24.2 cubic feet of space. Folded down that expands to 61.3 cu/ft. However, due to the rearward sloping roofline, passing large boxes through the rear doors is a challenge. It’s best to load everything from the rear lift gate and push it forward.
On the TFLcar scale of:
- Buy it!
- Lease it!
- Rent it!
- … or Forget it!
The 2014 KIA Soul! gets a Buy it!
With it’s cool and quirky looks, improved performance, and excellent 10 year/100,000 mile warranty, this is a car any individualist would love to have.
Now, about that Track’ster….
Check out this TFLcar first drive video of the 2014 KIA Soul:
Emme is a driver, reviewer, and rabble rouser. She is the principle driver and trophy winner for the Mega Monkey Motorsports™ 2 seat 1600 desert racer, powered by an air-cooled VW engine and has also been on the podium in a stock bug, a trophy bug, and an ultra-4. She is one of only 13 American women to have participated in the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles, a 9 day all female off road rally in Morocco with no GPS. You can check her out online on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and either one of her blogs.