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Kia transforms Soul for 2014: Urban lifestyle gets even better

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2014 Kia Soul Plus

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Following on the growing popularity of their ironic‘boxey’ styled Kia Soul, Kia has taken the best of that first generation Soul – integrated it with key elements of the acclaimed 2012 Kia Track’ster concept vehicle - and then finished it with significant new elements, features and technology to create an all-new Kia Soul for 2014.

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For 2014, the Kia Soul is offered in three unique trim levels – Base, Plus and Exclaim – sporting a Track’ster inspired body that is a bit larger and roomier, a 29 percent stiffer frame with improved suspension that handles better with new body insulation making it run quieter, an excellent power train performance enhanced with new Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI), upgraded standard and/or optional technology functionality, sporty new wheels - all clad in urban trendy Soul exclusive colors like Solar Yellow, Kale Green, and Inferno Red.

We have been a fan of the Soul since its introduction believing that in the world of boxey small cars, Kia had blended the attributes and styling of the Soul almost perfectly with the trendy urban lifestyle needs of their target market.

While others have come and gone, the Soul has continued to appeal (with or without Hamsters) to that segment with sales reaching a record of 118,000 vehicles in 2013.

We think the new 2014 Soul has gotten even better.

In fact, the all-new 2014 Soul appears to be even more appealing to that segment as sales year-to-date through March 2014 are trending to an annual sales level upwards of 130,000 (or more) Soul vehicles in 2014.

Just recently, Kia delivered us a new 2014 Kia Soul Plus in striking Inferno Red with a Gray interior for a full week of driving in and around the roads and highways of Central Texas.

Absolutely loaded, it had a full delivered price of just $24,010 which we feel is a tremendous value for this vehicle as delivered.

Starting with a MSRP of $18,200, our Soul Plus came standard with the improved and more powerful 2.0L engine updated with GDI technology. It delivers 164 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 151 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm. The engine is tuned to deliver more low-end torque for an improved driving experience. It is mated to the six-speed automatic transmission with Sportmatic shift and active Eco performance functions.

The enhanced standard features also included Electric Power Steering with Flexsteer offering three control settings (Comfort, Normal and Sport), Cruise Control, Air Conditioning, Remote Keyless Entry, Power Windows, Door Locks and Heated Outside Mirrors, a Telescoping Steering Wheel with Mounted Audio controls and a six-speaker AM/FM/MP3 audio unit with Bluetooth hands-free wireless technology, SiriusXM satellite radio and USB/AUX inputs plus dual 12V Front Power Outlets and a Single Luggage Outlet.

The Soul Plus adds 17-inch Alloy Wheels (Base has 16-inch), outside mirror turn-signal indicators and unique fender garnishes that distinguish the Plus from the Base exterior. Inside, the Plus includes a floor console stowage box with integrated armrest, available UVO eServices, Rear Camera Display and 60/40 Split Folding Rear Seats with center armrest.

Our Soul Plus came equipped with the following optional packages:

Audio Package ($1,400) – added the 350-watt Infinity Audio System with Center Speaker, Subwoofer and External Amplifier, Navigation with an 8-inch Color Display Screen, SiriusXM Satellite Radio and the awesome Speaker Light system with adjustment that allows you to dial the lighting effects (think Hamsters) coming from the “floating” tweeters utilizing LED-string light technology to create ripple-effect, red-hued mood lighting from the vertical speakers on each end of the dash.

Also included with the Audio Package are Automatic Temperature Control with Cluster Ionizer, Leather Wrapped Steering Wheel and Gearshift Knob and matching Leatherette Meter Hood, Door Center Trim Inserts and Armrest. Other accents in Piano Black surround the cabin with Satin Chrome Insert Door Handles.

Primo Package ($3,000) – further enhanced our Soul Plus with a Panoramic Sunroof with Power Sunshade, Leather Trimmed Seats with 10-way Power Driver Adjustment, Heated and Ventilated Front Seating with 3-level adjustment, 2-level Heated Rear Seats, Heated Steering Wheel, Push Button Start and Front Fog Lights.

UVO eServices Package ($500) – adds the Kia second-generation infotainment and telematics system with its wide viewing high-definition capacitive touch screen. This allows visibility for both audio/video and navigation controls on the home screen at the same time. Additionally, a larger Supervision Cluster/TFT LCD color screen in the instrument panel displays turn-by-turn directions from the navigation system for the driver. It also includes integration of Pandora Internet Radio in the same unit for the first time. It also includes a Rear Camera Display and Auto-on/off Headlights.

Lastly, our 2014 Soul Plus included a very nice set of Carpet Floor Mats ($115).

This new 2014 Kia Soul is a really fine ride, much more so than one might expect from a small car. Seating is comfortable, controls are easy to see and use and handling is excellent. It seats five comfortably and has ample cargo capacity behind the second row and more when the second row is folded down.

Fuel economy is rated at 23/31 mpg City/Highway with an expected average of 26 mpg. Other vehicles in the segment may get measurably better mileage, but they do not equal the 2014 Soul for its funky and fun lifestyle drive experience that is also very well-priced for all of the features and functionality that it includes.

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