2014-04-12 03.59.41 pmAs competition becomes increasingly intense between affordable compact cars, the the 2014 Kia Soul is able to provide the space, style and spunk in order to rise above the rest and become a fan favorite between both critics and customers alike.

Newly remodeled for the latest edition, the 2014 Kia Soul offers a longer ride, wider interior, increased headspace, and nearly an inch longer wheelbase. All of this may not sound impressive, but the changes made not only allow for a more comfortable ride, but it’s also able to provide a more spacious interior than their main competitors including the Ford Focus hatchback and Fiat 500L.

I recently had the opportunity to take the 2014 Kia Soul on a road trip from Southern California up towards the beautiful Monterey coast to see how it fairs for everyday drivers as well as long commutes. Of the plethora of options and special features the 2014 Kia Soul has to offer consumers, there were four aspects of this vehicle that truly stood out to me as noteworthy. 

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Styling

If you’ve seen any of Kia’s recent commercials promoting the Soul as a fun and entertaining compact car, it’s because, well, it is. Beginning with the exterior, the 2014 Kia Soul’s profile gets a lift on the hood and roofline when compared to the 2013 model that showcases its shape more softly and allows the previously aggressive side crease to almost disappear in this model. The new exterior redesign not only makes the car appear much more stylish and appealing but almost completely reduced the amount of road noise I experienced in the previous model. While there was a small amount of engine noise, the almost seven hour road trip was pleasantly quiet and I was able to easily have conversations with my passenger and listen to music with almost no noise distractions. If quiet rides are of high importance to you, I highly suggest test driving this model for yourself to hear (or lack there of) the differences for yourself.

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From the interior, Kia provided nothing short of exceptional upgraded modifications with the consumer in mind. The H-point (where the driver’s hip joint sits) is lower than before providing a more comfortable position for long drives, and actually allowed me to drive all seven hours without any bit of lower back pain which I’m prone to. As of the lowered H-point wasn’t enough, there’s actually a really awesome adjustment on the driver’s left hand side of the seat that allows the lower portion of the seat to actually adjust as necessary to fit the arch of your back. Huge bonus!

Everything on the dash board and instrument panel is where driver’s hope they are for the easiest convenience, and with light up speakers, I absolutely loved driving this vehicle both before the sun came up as well as during evening rides. 

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UVO eServices

Powered by Microsoft and seamlessly integrating with Google, UVO, short for Your Voice, has been around since 2010, but was one of my favorite aspects of the Soul. The voice-activated media controller oversees all of the Soul’s infotainment options including the HD radio, CD player and built-in digital jukebox. Since driving while using your cell phone is illegal in most states (not to mention dangerous) the Soul’s UVO system made me looking up directions and calling about check-in an absolute breeze that I was able to do completely hands-free. 

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Not voice-activated but extremely awesome is their Parking Minder feature as well. One of the many wonderful additions to this 2014 Soul, Parking Minder found under Google Maps on UVO allows owner’s to view the location of where they parked on their smartphone. This feature came in handy when I couldn’t remember what parking lot I was in but also works great if someone moves your car for you. Even better, if images work better than directions, there’s actually the option of having your car snap photos of your surrounding area for reference, along with being able to scribble a reminder note on your phone to be displayed on your dashboard, and even set an alarm on your phone if your car is parked by a meter. 

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UVO eServices are free, with no contracts or fees, and their upgrades create a significant luring point for car buyers on a budget. 

2014-04-12 04.01.40 pm2014-04-06 16.49.59Sunroof

All I can say is ‘Wow!’ The panoramic sunroof offers views ranging from the driver’s overhead all the way back to behind guests in the back seat. Featuring an opaque sunscreen for when you want a little privacy or a little less heat to make its way into the cabin, there are various sunroof settings to enhance any driver’s experience. While taking my 2014 Kia Soul across Carmel’s 17 Mile Drive, the sunroof intensified the journey by exposing all of the Monterey Pine’s overhead and allowing additional smells to enter the cabin. The panoramic sunroof is great for those who want to be closer to nature without having to have a retractable roof and also has the perk of a setting that brings in natural light while having a screen limit the amount of bugs that could potentially enter. While I didn’t get to test the sunroof during evening drives, I’m sure this would make a wonderful opportunity for passenger’s to stargaze, or to enjoy laying down in the pack of the car thanks to their folding seats, and looking up to enjoy the view. Regardless of when you drive, this sunroof is exceptional and is a great way to provide a great commute for everyone in the vehicle, even those in the back.

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Drive Experience

The 2014 Kia Soul is an absolute thrill to drive. With their new twin-tube shocks, there’s a huge compliance for bumps and rough roads that was extremely useful during an unpaved detour on the way back home. I found the Soul to accelerate well and provide a safe yet fun drive. With the base model equipped with a six-speed manual transmission with a six-speed automatic available, I found the drive to be extremely smooth with steering that is both accurate and responsive. 

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Made with high-quality materials, hosting reliable structures, and providing a smooth drive, the 2014 Kia Soul is definitely a strong contender (if not the only) in it’s hip class. Perfect for busy moms or travelers, there’s a fantastic amount of cargo space, and with the bevy of standard features, the Soul seems like an absolute value for it’s price. I loved everything the Soul had to offer, and beyond my favorite’s it’s also worth noting some models include a backup camera, push-button start, and automatic climate control. The Kia Soul blows the competition out of the water in all aspects but it’s mpg which raked in at 24 city and 30 highway, however for the amount of space, tech-savvy components and relaxing drive, many drivers including myself may find this to be a fair tradeoff. 

The 2014 Kia Soul not only makes for a great road trip vehicle, but an excellent everyday affordable small car that satisfies even the pickiest of drivers. Starting at just $14,900 the Soul begins at a lower MSRVP than its competitors the 2014 Ford Focus and the Fiat 500L and comes with more standard features as well. While the mpg could be improved upon, bringing in an average of 30 mpg highway during my trip, (24/30 average) it still was impressive when considering the other vehicles in it’s class, and all of the upgrades that the Soul comes with. In all, I absolutely fell in love with this car during my week ‘mini-ownership’ and highly suggest curious potential car-owners to look into a test drive of this vehicle when in the market, as it truly has something for everyone.

For more information on the 2014 Kia Soul including pricing, models, and to find a dealership closest to you, visit their website at Kia.com

Kia and STI provided me with the 2014 Kia Soul for a week in exchange for a review however all opinions remain my own. 

 

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