Review: The 2014 KIA Soul Is a Flirty, Fun Compact Ride

Kia Soul Front

The 2014 KIA Soul has seen improvements to its looks, handling and utility while maintaining the funky-fun vibe that made it so popular in the first place.

You’ll see the changes just looking at the exterior of the 2014 KIA Soul. There’s no mistaking that it’s a Soul, but the front and back have gotten some updates.

There’s now a “floating” body color panel on the back hatch along with blackout areas that serve to accentuate the redesigned taillamps. The opening is also 2.4″ wider on that hatch, all of which makes the car look beefier than its predecessor.

Kia Soul Rear

Up front, the new grille is higher and it makes the car feel taller. It’s not as clean and simple a design as before, but it adds just enough impact to give the car more character without overdoing it and detracting from its looks.

The biggest design changes happen inside the cabin where there’s more room, higher-end surfaces and an overall feeling of better quality and comfort. This may resemble a Nissan Cube on the outside, but inside it’s a much cushier ride at a much better price. This is still an economy car so you won’t be putting fitting three happily in the back, but two can sit nicely without their shoulders mashing each other.

The story is the same for front passengers with more than enough room to grab your drink from the cupholder without stabbing your neighbor with your elbow. Those elbows will also be more comfortable thanks to the soft touch materials used in all the right places.

Kia Soul Interior

The elevated speakers on either side of the dash and chunky steering wheel loaded with buttons make it feel sportier and more upscale. The 2014 Kia Soul is also much quieter due in part to foam that’s been used to fill body cavites. Road and wind noise are significantly reduced giving passengers a much more pleasant ride.

There’s tech to spare in this car with a new UVO eServices infotainment system that has a gorgeous 8″ color touchscreen that’s perfectly placed on the dash. It’s easy to reach and easy for the driver to read. It’s an Android based system and mimics the design fluidity of a smartphone without annoying lag.

The 2014 KIA Soul comes standard with a 1.6-litre in-line 4-cylinder engine with 130 HP and 118 lb-ft of torque and a 6-speed automatic transmission. It is not a performance vehicle, so don’t be expecting that behind the wheel, but it is a capable economy car. It is also available as a manual which would be your better bet if you’re looking for more of a performance feel in the base model over the automatic I tested.

Kia Soul Cargo

Loaded up with four passengers and a full trunk, it easily got up to speed for highway driving and had no problems with acceleration for high speed passing. It was a fun and almost sporty ride with good handling. You won’t feel the small bumps in the road and get just the right amount of feedback on the road surface.

Suspension provides for a smooth overall ride and there is good body control. Especially given that the 2014 KIA Soul is a box, taking corners didn’t make you feel like you were going to tip right over and spill out onto the road. You can push this hard in a corner and stay firmly in control.

There is also what KIA calls Flex Steer standard on all trim levels. A steering wheel button lets you choose Comfort, Normal or Sport mode which alters the amount of steering effort you need to exert. It is a subtle yet noticeable difference with Sport really tightening up that wheel. Comfort takes it all the way in the other direction turning steering marshmallow soft with Normal keeping it at a nice average of the two.

Kia Soul Profile

If the 1.6-litre isn’t enough for you, then there’s also a 2.0-litre with 164 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque. Can you feel the difference? Absolutely, but the one drawback is that you can only get that more powerful engine with an automatic transmission. It does give the car a lot more pep, so even as an automatic, you’ll get a more aggressive ride.

Fuel economy is good, but not great. Again, driving a box, but the base rates 24 city/ 30 highway for a combined 26 MPG. You can get better fuel economy in something like the Nissan Versa, but with far fewer creature comforts and a higher price.

There are three different trim levels for the 2014 KIA Soul starting with the base Soul and moving up through the Soul Plus (+) and Soul Exclaim (!). Pricing starts at just $14,700 for the base but the Exclaim loaded up with options has you just south of the $30K mark. Still, considering what you get for $14,700 it’s a great value.

Kia Soul Passengers

On that base you’re still getting things like heated power mirrors, AM/FM/MP3 with SiriusXM audio, 6 speakers with pillar mounted tweeters, wireless Bluetooth connectivity and steering mounted audio and cruise controls. It won’t feel like you’re driving a stripped down, bargain basement car despite the price.

You can add things like heated and ventilated seats, leather trim, a rear camera, Infinity audio and a host of other options until you’ve customized your 2014 KIA Soul into the car you want to drive. Depending on what’s important to you, that sticker may well be under $20K even with a decent number of options.

The 2014 KIA Soul combines fun styling, lots of options for personalization and great handling into a compact car you’ll want to drive.

On the TFLcar scale of:

  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

I give the 2014 KIA Soul a Buy It!

Nicole Wakelin fell in love with cars as a teenager when she got to go for a ride in a Ferrari. It was red and it was fast and that was all that mattered. Game over. She considers things a bit more carefully now, but still has a weakness for fast, beautiful cars. Nicole also writes for NerdApproved and GeekMom.