Tuesday, February 4, 2014

2014 Kia Soul ! Driving Experience - New, Improved, & Blown Out!

2014 KIA Soul! Driving Experience

This 2014 Inferno Red KIA Soul!(exclaim) was provided by STI - The Driving Experience company for review; the opinions stated below are my own and I received no financial compensation.

Seems like these days car company's are strident to upgrade, improve, and restyle models every year much like the cell phone and PC/laptop manufacturers.  Each year the same model undergoes  a face lift, technology improvements, added accessories and smarter optional electronics.  The KIA Soul is no exception.  The 2014 KIA Soul! is wonderfully tweaked and improved over its predecessor 2013 model year. How can a car company improve a vehicle that already has a relatively short but glorious history full of awards and accolades?  An astute design team with a young and fresh outlook on styling cues spreading all throughout the vehicle backed by an engineering team hell bent on improvement and correction - I say correction in reference to over-stated fuel mileage ratings which now are improved and most importantly the sticker mpg is accurate.  KIA experienced an issue, addressed it appropriately, took ownership for it, and is moving on.  Enough said; but, might I digress.  The 2014 Soul! is much improved, much redesigned, and oh so much fun.  I love this vehicle even more than the first time I reviewed the Soul back in July 2013.
See that - Those are rear heated seats

Let's talk safety.  Lets here it from the Heart and Soul.
Face it, the KIA Soul started out as a mock-toaster econo-box on wheels a few years back.  Well, pack the toaster with ABS and E brake force distribution, full airbags~front-side-curtain, traction control, rear-view camera, 3 point seat restraints for every seat, stability control with active stability management, side impact door beams, tire pressure monitoring, dual crumple zones, child safety locks, anchors and tethers for child seats,  and last but not least hill start assist, and hence you have a 5-Star NHTSA Crash Rating.  Not too shabby.  The toaster is sophisticated but not snobby.  The 2014 Soul! is cool but not sloppy like your next door neighbor.  Outfitted with LED lighting front and back and you can take the Soul anywhere any time of the year.  Just don't forget to tip your valet.  I took Leslie of Leslie Loves Veggies to dinner one night in December 2013.  Valet parked my car and sat for dinner.  Upon returning to the valet to retrieve my vehicle, a couple were waiting for their ride to be brought up.  Well, up rolls a brand new $100k+ Tesla vehicle.  Valet gets out and driver hands the guy a dollar?  A dollar!  The girl friend was wearing a fur coat.  That's just wrong.  Giving the valet a dollar in sub-freezing temperature is not cool and very sloppy unlike the 2014 KIA Soul.

The 2014 Soul! is fun to drive, spirited, and rather nimble in tight places.  Adjust your steering manner from Comfort, to Normal, to Sport and you get a totally different feel of the road from the drivers seat.  Controls are easy to reach, easy to interpret, and the gauge cluster is a full complement of indicators giving minute by minute info on the 2.0 ltr power plant with 6 speed automatic transmission.  The front heated seats were absolutely therapeutic melting driver and passenger into the seat.  The heated steering wheel was quick to warm (about 40 seconds) and hot to the touch before the auto-timer cooled it down.  Driving the vehicle the week of Winter Storm Leon in Atlanta, I got first hand experience driving this cruiser in the snow and ice.  Without an ice scraper I was able to clear the windows of snow and ice within 5 minutes just using the defroster and windshield wipers.  I never lost traction and I never felt uncomfortable during the 9 mile ride home
at the height of the winter storm.

The 2014 KIA Soul! is beautifully appointed with refreshed cabin components, controls, and electronics.  The central data center has a much larger screen and the Infinity Stereo system is more powerful with richer sound.  The radio tuning has a nice nostalgic sliding tuner display.  The center console is also the brain center of UVO eServices.  The steering wheel controls are ergonomically placed, very functional, and very easy to use while driving with the least amount of distraction.  Cabin lighting is accented with soft white LED units complemented by red lighting effects on all controls for easy viewing at night.  Full 8 way power driver seat makes this ride a comfortable cruiser.  Open the full glass canopy sun roof for oodles of open air fun.  Extra insulation in the 2014 Soul makes this vehicle a very, very quiet ride.  Outside noise is almost eliminated and road noise is almost non existent.  Check out my 35-40 mph sound analysis graph of the 2014 KIA Soul! compared to my raucously worked 2000 Toyota Celica.

Did I mention fun?  The KIA Soul! still has the disco lighting on the doors around the door mounted speakers.  A sub woofer delivers rich low end tones to completely balance a real nice sound system.
Full folding rear seats will allow stowage space for a multitude of entertainment devices such as cooler, back-packs, bikes, toys, or beach gear.  Whatever your heart desires for the day will fit in the back of the Soul.  A large rear square hatch lifting high overhead with a low sill makes loading and unloading cargo a snap.  Even the glove box is cooled for storing beverages or food items.
 Here are the specifications:
2.0 ltr engine, 164 hp 23 city/31 highway mpg
18" alloy wheels 235/45R 18
Full front, side, and curtain airbags
 5-Star NHTSA Crash Rating

What I did not like:
The horn is timid.  Had to use it once.  I could hear it but it was not a strong sounding alert like a horn should be.

The KIA Soul! is a serious contender in calculating the Fun to economical/practical ratio.  Serious safety, good fuel mileage, and comfort.  Electronic gadgetry abounds to complement driver ability.

KIA Soul! - Try a new Soul on for size

Thanks STI-The Driving Experience People for the opportunity to test the 2014 KIA Soul!

Find out more about KIA and the Soul!
KIA Soul! 
KIA Motors America on twitter
KIA Motors America on face book
KIA Motors America on Pinterest
Scott R. Mayorga A.A.S., BS MT(ASCP)H CLS

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