June 5, 2014
2014 Kia Soul SX Luxury. Click image to enlarge
Review and photos by Tom Sedens
When Kia first brought out the boxy, goofy Soul, it wasn’t expected to make a big splash. The quirky styling was more of a statement, but it turned into a big seller for Kia. Building on the original Soul’s success, this completely revised second generation has added some twists to the familiar exterior and stepped it up a notch in terms of what you get inside.
The revised Kia Soul’s exterior has been given even more character. While it remains recognizable as a Soul, Kia has reworked the front end and especially the rear end to dramatic effect, adding to the vehicle’s aggressive stance. The Xenon HID headlight pods look great, and are complemented with LED driving lights. The taillight treatment with its LED light bars and the rear fascia’s contrasting glossy black trim can’t be missed, and they are certainly a statement. I’d say the new rear end is my least favourite part of the Soul’s styling exercise.
While the fun, boxy styling isn’t for everyone, it certainly has endeared itself to many, and the side profile doesn’t go overboard in my opinion. I don’t think they’re going to win over anyone looking for a conservative, blend-in-with-the-rest vehicle, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the demographic Kia set out to conquer with the Soul.
My review sample in a somewhat mustardy yellow sure got a lot of looks. While the Soul is available in some less “Hey, look at me!” colours, it seems that many of them do sell in the more shouty tones. Speaking of shouty, the 18-inch rims wearing meaty 235/45-sized rubber are hard to miss, too, and they look fantastic.
Once you get inside this funky ride, you’ll find that the interior styling isn’t nearly as quirky as the outside of the Soul. A surprisingly conservative and spacious cabin greets you, crafted out of tons of nicely textured soft-touch plastics and even some stitched leather-like fabrics. The materials are nice for this vehicle class. Fit and finish are excellent. A circular styling theme can be found, but mostly around the speaker grille treatment – there are interesting flying-saucer tweeter pods on the corners of the dash and a large circular centre speaker on top of the dash. Otherwise, shapes and styling are typical Kia fare.
Entry is keyless, and the ignition is a push-button start. The heated and cooled leather seats (power adjustable for the driver) were very comfortable, though they don’t offer a lot of bolstering support. Crisp gauges are separated by an excellent driver information screen that you control with buttons on a great little heated steering wheel. It also has controls for the cruise, media system and the phone.
2014 Kia Soul SX Luxury dashboard & centre stack. Click image to enlarge
Front and centre sits a fairly large eight-inch touch screen, which manages your excellent Infinity sound system, phone functions and navigation as well as the back-up camera feed. The screen is sharp and bright, and I enjoyed the simple, well-laid-out user interface. Voice recognition was exemplary, and of note, this is the first Kia I’ve reviewed that did not have problems hanging on to the satellite radio signal. Underneath the screen is a simple automatic climate control system.
There is a massive panoramic sunroof overhead, complete with a powered sunshade. The external mirrors can be set to fold in automatically when you turn off the vehicle – a nice addition in this price class.
A handy rubberized drop-in bin at the front of the centre console, complete with two 12V plugs and the auxiliary and USB connections for the stereo, is a good place for your phone. You can also drop your stuff into the decent sized bin under the armrest, or the massive glove compartment.
2014 Kia Soul SX Luxury seating & cargo area. Click image to enlarge
The Soul’s cargo capacity is a pleasant surprise. While it looks to be tiny from the outside, the trunk actually offers 532 litres of space. You can fold the rear seats down in a 60/40 split. While they don’t fold quite flat, it’s close enough and the capacity jumps to a very useful 1402 L. In addition, you’ll find a significant amount of under-floor storage, organized by a foam tray. There is a removable parcel shelf/cover, which helps conceal your cargo, and a 12V plug to power or charge your stuff. A pretty sweet detail: one of the LED trunk lights is actually a removable flashlight which could be very handy in an emergency situation. A thoughtful touch.
The top edge of the rear door opening drops down a bit, so you need a be a bit wary of that as you’re getting into the back, otherwise you can whack your head. I point this out because I did this. Twice. The rear seating area has three seats, each with a headrest and seatbelt. The two outboard positions are very comfortable (and heated!) and offer good leg and foot room, as well as a decent amount of head room for me, at 5’10″ tall.