Now in its second-generation the 2014 Kia Soul has been completely redesigned, but keeps that same boxy shape that has made it almost as famous as the dancing hamsters that are supposed to make you want to by it.
The last time we drove the Kia Soul was back in 2012 and although it has been one of Kia’s best selling models, we dinged it for its cheap feeling interior, loud road noise and bouncy suspension. Now in its second-generation the 2014 Kia Soul has been completely redesigned, but keeps that same boxy shape that has made it almost as famous as the dancing hamsters that are supposed to make you want to by it.
Compared to when the first Soul launched back in 2009, the latest Soul has a lot more competition from a host of new small SUV/ hatchback rivals, like the Buick Encore, Nissan Juke. Although the 2014 Soul may look like the first-generation, park the two generations side by side and you’ll see the vast improvements that Kia made to the 2014 Soul. It now looks more grown up and more refined than before and even gets some styling cues from the 2012 Track’ster concept.
The 2014 Kia Soul now rides on a new platform and its exterior dimensions are slightly larger than before, with a wheelbase that is 0.8 inches longer and width that is up by 0.6 inches. The new Soul is now just under 30 percent stiffer than before, but unfortunately it’s also a bit heavier with the base model coming in just under 100 pounds heavier than before.
Although the exterior may look similar to the last Soul, the 2014 Soul gets a completely redesigned interior, which is a major improvement over the last Soul. It not only looks more stylish, but its materials also look and feel better than before. The 2014 Soul’s interior is now a very nice place to be, thanks to its long list of features like a panoramic moonroof, heated and cooled leather seats, heated steering wheel and an eight-inch touchscreen. It’s leather seats are comfortable and there is plenty of legroom in back. Our biggest gripe with the interioe was the UVO infotainment system, which isn’t completely intuitive and refused to connect with our iPhone.
Under the hood the Soul is offered with a choice of a 130-hp 1.6L or 164-hp 2.0L four-cylinder engine. Our tester had the top 2.0L engine mated to a six-speed automatic. The 2.0L engine, which is a carryover from the first-generation and is adequate in the Soul. It packs enough grunt to get you around town, but it does struggle a bit up steep inclines. If only Kia would offer a turbocharged engine in the Soul… The only major issue that we had with the Soul was that we wished it was a more fuel efficient. The 2.0L Soul is rated at 23/31, but over our week with the Soul we only averaged 24 mpg, with mostly highway driving.
Kia spent a lot of time redesigning the Soul’s suspension and combined with its stiffer platform, the 2014 Soul rides and handles better than the last one. The 2014 Soul doesn’t bounce around like the last model and is more planted to road. During a road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco, the Soul was a comfortable cruiser, which didn’t have the road noise issues of the first model. We do wish that the Soul’s optional Flex Steer adjustable power steering system had more differences between the three settings: Comfort, Normal and Sport. Generally we preferred the Sport mode, but it was hard to feel the differences.
Compared to the last Soul we walked away far more impressed than the last model and based on the fact that Kia can’t make enough of them, the new Soul is going to continue to fly out of the showrooms.
2014 Kia Soul:
Base Price: $14,900
Price as Tested: $26,195
Pros: More refined, but familiar exterior; upgraded interior; spacious interior
Cons: Loud, slightly underpowered engine; poor gas mileage; UVO infotainment system bugs