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November 16, 2013

New Kia Soul adds substance, keeps flair

Since its introduction in 2009, the Kia Soul has remained a one-of-a-kind car, a bold and zesty wagon that manages to be both slab-shaped and smoothly streamlined at the same time, like big, stacked sheets of river stone. The model is unique enough to have some odd-ball appeal, but not so strange that it attracts only staunch individualists. Moderate individualists appear to like it too. Overall, the Soul is a very clever balance between a stand-out statement and practical, get-it-done transportation.

That balance shows in the model’s popularity. Soul is a reliable seller for Kia, occupying the number-two spot among the eight models the company offers in the United States. But even though you encounter a Soul often enough on the roadways, the model still stands out for its personality.

Since no other vehicles mimic the Soul, you’d think that Kia could keep it unchanged at least for a while longer. After all, we’re still just getting used to its spunk, flair, and flashy style.

But Kia just brought out a 2014 Soul that is rebuilt, restyled and re-equipped. The new model is longer and wider than its predecessor, creating more passenger and cargo space inside. Its stiffer chassis cuts interior noise better while it improves dynamic road manners. Features and equipment available in the new version increase the usefulness and desirability of the car.

While the changes upgrade the car, the four-door, five-passenger Soul remains affordable, at a starting list price of $15,495 for the base model, which comes with a 130-horsepower four-cylinder engine and six-speed manual transmission. Upgrading to a six-speed automatic transmission adds $2,000 to the base model, while higher level Souls include the automatic transmission, along with a larger, more powerful four-cylinder engine.

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