The 2014 Kia Soul is offered in base Soul, Soul Plus (+), and Soul Exclaim (!) models, with the base $15,495 Soul including a very generous list of standard features. Power windows and locks, heated mirrors, Bluetooth connectivity and a 6-speaker sound system with satellite radio compatibility, and USB and auxiliary inputs are all part of the base feature set.
Soul+ models add larger 17-inch alloy wheels, additional fender trim, outside-mirror turn signals, a driver armrest and upgraded center console, a rear camera system and a center armrest in the back seat. The Soul! level comes with 18-inch wheels, fog lamps, projector headlamps, front LED marker lamps and rear 'halo' lights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a power driver's seat, cooled glove box and glossy piano-black trim for the dash.
Plus and Exclaim models comes with the UVO eServices capability, which includes an 8-inch capacitive screen, plus apps for Pandora and many more. The system runs on Linux and is easily upgradable.
Options include a full navigation system, 350-watt Infinity audio, a panoramic sunroof, fog lamps, ventilated front seats and heated seats for all four outboard seating positions.
While the Soul's exterior appears essentially the same shape as last year's model, it's actually entirely new--with new sheetmetal and a new structure underneath. However the changes are perhaps most pronounced inside, where the Soul gets more driver-centric interior that borrows styling cues from the rest of the current Kia lineup. There are soft-touch materials throughout, and Kia carries over both the lighted speaker rings and customizable LED mood lighting. Better-bolstered front seats should help on longer trips, and the back seat is large enough for a couple of adults, or three across if it's kids headed back from practice.
Powertrains are what the Soul most has in common with other small sedans and hatchbacks. The base Soul includes a 130-horsepower, 1.6L DOHC 4-cylinder engine, while Plus and Exclaim models step up to the 2.0L four, making 164 hp. The 1.6L includes a standard 6-speed manual gearbox or optional 6-speed automatic, while all models with the larger engine include the automatic.
With dual-path shocks plus new sound insulation, as well as a revised suspension and new electric power steering--with a so-called Flex-Steer system allowing three different firmness settings--the Soul now not only rides better and more quietly than last year's model but also handles better.