What Is It?
2014 Kia Soul
What's Special About It?
Consistently one of Kia's best-sellers, the Soul compact hatchback is totally new for 2014, with significantly but carefully revised sheet metal and now riding on the brand's wide-ranging "K" small-car platform.
That means there's a slight (about 0.8 inch) increase in wheelbase to 101.2 inches and the same stretch for overall length (now 163 inches). But taking some footprint cues from the well-received Track'ster concept car, the 2014 Kia Soul's wheels are pushed to the corners and the all-new sheet metal assists in making the car seem much more planted on the pavement, not to mention looking to ride much lower and with a lower roof line. This despite the fact that Kia's engineering gang insists ride height and roof height are exactly the same as the current Soul's.
The move to the K platform doesn't bring an independent rear suspension for the 2014 Kia Soul, unfortunately, but it does mean the addition of a front subframe and the attendant front suspension revisions that might promise upgrades over the current Soul's underdamped ride and so-so handling.
The 2.0-liter four-cylinder and 1.6-liter base four are carried over, but the 2.0-liter gets direct injection; output remains the same (boo) at 164 horsepower, but torque is bumped slightly from 148 pound-feet to 151 lb-ft for the new direct-injection four-cylinder. The characteristic you'll appreciate, Orth Hedrick, Kia Motors America's director of product planning told us, is the revised torque curve for the direct injected 2.0-liter, which now peaks at 4,000 rpm rather than the non-DI 2.0-liter's 4,800 rpm.
If you're impressed with the 2014 Soul's sheet metal (we are), take a close-up gander at the vastly revised and softened-up interior, where, as one Kia exec told us, "the big battles were." Most of the current Soul's more glaring bugaboos are inside, where hard surfaces abound and refinement is thin. "This  interior is a huge, huge upgrade," said the Kia official.
That's auto exec code for "expensive," and the innards of the new Soul look it. We saw the leathered versions, of course, but standard for all 2014 Kia Soul models are large applications of soft-touch materials, while available rich stuff includes a giant new 8-inch touchscreen in the center stack, heated front and rear seats and a ventilated driver seat. There are scads of new app-related functionality, too, including on-screen video primers on how to get the most out of Kia's latest Uvo infotainment interface.
Kia said pricing will be announced closer to the 2014 Soul's launch this fall.
What Edmunds Says:
The Kia Soul's soul is altered in a way that appears totally for the better.
Base Price: TBA
Engine: 2.0-liter direct-injected four-cylinder
Gearbox: Six-speed manual
Power: 164 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm, 151 pound-feet of torque @ 4,000 rpm
Fuel Mileage: TBA
Length: 163 inches
Wheelbase: 101.2 inches
Width: 70.9 inches
Height: 63.4 inches