KIA Soul
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Overall

There’s not a vehicle on the market today that resonates with young and young-at-heart buyers like the Soul; mid-cycle refresh touches nearly every part of (pardon the pun) Soul, from appearance, interior and powertrain.

Drivetrain

Base 1.6-liter four-cylinder shared with the Rio; 2.0 option adds passing power; six-speed transmissions.

Some cars are surprisingly successful, even for the automakers that created them, while other cars have “hit” written all over them from the minute they leave the factory floor. The Soul definitely falls into the latter group, due mainly to its funky styling and frugal price tag and fuel-saving ways (OK, plus some help from those cute hamsters in the Soul’s TV commercials). It also helps that the Soul is amazingly practical when it comes to toting bulky gear. For 2014, Kia has upgraded and enlarged the cabin for a bit more front head and shoulder room and dialed in a bit more rear legroom. More insulating foam was added for a quieter cabin and the dashboard was updated to accommodate the available eight-inch touch screen. The Soul now rests on a new platform that’s 29 percent stiffer than before and accommodates a suspension that has been reengineered for improved ride and handling. Outside, design details inspired by the Soul-based Trax’ster concept car have provided the basis for a front and rear facelift that makes the Soul much more appealing. Additionally, the rear liftgate has been widened by 2.4 inches and is flanked by one of the coolest set of taillights ever installed on any vehicle. The entry-level Base Soul is equipped with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder produces 130 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque, while the optional 2.0-liter four-cylinder in the Plus and Exclaim models delivers the same 164 horses and 151 pound-feet of torque as before. The 1.6 uses a six-speed manual transmission or available six-speed automatic, while the 2.0 is only available with the automatic. Base Souls feature air conditioning plus all the usual power amenities. As well as the larger engine mid-range Plus adds a fancier interior including floor console stowage and a backup camera, while the Exclaim gets 18-inch wheels (17′s are standard), projector-style headlights, multi-adjustable driver’s seat and a cooled glove box. Optional for 2014 is a new panorama-style sunroof and leather seats (heated and ventilated in front), along with a navigation system and premium Infinity-brand sound package.

Base price (incl. destination): $15,500
Type: Four-door, five-passenger front-wheel-drive compact/tall wagon
Base engine (hp): 1.6-liter DOHC I4 (130)
Optional engine (hp): 2.0-liter DOHC I4 (164)
Layout: Front engine, front-wheel-drive
Transmissions: Six-speed manual; six-speed automatic (opt.)
MPG (city/hwy): 29/37 (1.6, MT, est.)
Safety: Front airbags; side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction/stability control
Weight (lb.): 2,560