The Washington Times-Herald

Community News Network

February 17, 2014

Soul is still stylin’

All-new version of popular Kia remains funky, enjoyable

If there was an award for the vehicle that offers the most style per dollar, this car — the Kia Soul — would be a top contender.

Starting under $15,000, the Soul has always pegged its success on buyers who want a trendy, contemporary, eye-catching car without spending a ton of cash. And now that an all-new Soul is out for 2014, it shows that Kia is doubling down on this recipe of combining funky looks and an affordable price.

I like a lot of things about the new Soul after driving it for the past week, starting with the fact that it feels like a more substantial, solid and comfortable car from the driver’s seat now.

I enjoyed the way the old Soul drove, but the new one takes it up several notches in refinement. Engineers improved the chassis stiffness by nearly a third, changed the front and rear suspensions to be less harsh and massaged the steering setup so you feel less vibration when you hit bumps.

When you combine all that with the Soul’s bigger, longer dimensions, the new version feels less like a zippy runabout and more like a supple, sophisticated vehicle. It seems like it’s grown up a bit.

That said, the Soul continues to focus more on performance than on fuel economy. It’s rated for 31 mpg on the highway, which doesn’t impress in this price class where some cars are achieving 40+ mpg ratings.

On the flip side, that means the Soul performs better than some of those fuel-sipping competitors.

With the 2.0-liter, 164-horsepower engine in my test car, accelerating from a standstill feels effortless and almost luxurious. Ample low-end torque, which is what Kia is aiming for in the engine specs, creates that effect.

Kia has been doing great work with its interiors lately, and the new Soul fits into that pattern. Material choices, design and construction are all impressive, although I think the color-changing lights around the stereo speakers on my test car were a bit gimmicky.

But maybe that’s just me.

Now we get to the elephant in the Soul’s living room: the way it looks.

Personally, I love the styling on this car. It’s fresh, spunky and lively — certainly more interesting and expressive than you usually find in sub-$15,000 vehicles — and puts a twist on the box-car shape that makes it stand out from the pack.

In other words, it’s not just another “Kleenex box on wheels” in the mold of the Honda Element, Scion xB or Nisan Cube. The visual details on the Soul, from its wedge-like side windows to the LED accents on the headlights to the tall, upright brake lights in back, give it a unique look that has become a Soul signature, the key to its popularity.

And ultimately, that’s what the Soul is all about. Yes, it drives more smoothly, and yes, it’s bigger and more comfortable now. But in the end, you’re either going to buy it or not based on how you think it looks.

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Grandstands feel a little empty at NASCAR races

    Two decades after NASCAR started running at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the crowds have thinned considerably. It's probably no reflection on the sport's massive following, which stretches from coast to coast, but it surely doesn't NASCAR's image help when the cameras pan across all of those empty seats.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • The virtues of lying

    Two computational scientists set out recently to simulate the effects of lying in a virtual human population. Their results, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, show that lying is essential for the growth of a cohesive social network.

    July 31, 2014

  • lockport-police.jpg Police department turns to Facebook for guidance on use of 'negro'

    What seems to be a data entry mistake by a small town police department in western New York has turned into a social media firestorm centered around the word "negro" and whether it's acceptable to use in modern society.

    July 31, 2014 3 Photos

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 2.12.55 PM.png VIDEO: Five-year-old doesn't want her brother to grow up

    Sadie, an adorable 5-year-old from Phoenix, wants her brother to stay young forever, so much so that her emotional reaction to the thought of him getting older has drawn more than 10 million views on YouTube.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Why a see-through mouse is a big deal for scientists

    A group of Caltech researchers announced in Cell Thursday their success in making an entire organism transparent. Unfortunately, this isn't any kind of "Invisible Man" scenario: The organism in question is a mouse, and the mouse in question is quite dead.

    July 31, 2014

  • Sunburn isn't the only sign of summer that can leave you itchy and blistered

    You've got a rash. You quickly rule out the usual suspects: You haven't been gardening or hiking or even picnicking, so it's probably not a plant irritant such as poison ivy or wild parsnip; likewise, it's probably not chiggers or ticks carrying Lyme disease; and you haven't been swimming in a pond, which can harbor the parasite that causes swimmer's itch.

    July 30, 2014

  • Survey results in legislation to battle sexual assault on campus

    Missouri U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill joined a bipartisan group of senators Wednesday to announce legislation that aims to reduce the number of sexual assaults on college campuses.

    July 30, 2014

  • An alarming threat to airlines that no one's talking about

    It's been an abysmal year for the flying public. Planes have crashed in bad weather, disappeared over the Indian Ocean and tragically crossed paths with anti-aircraft missiles over Ukraine.

    July 30, 2014

  • Sharknado.jpg Sharknado 2 set to attack viewers tonight

    In the face of another "Sharknado" TV movie (the even-more-inane "Sharknado 2: The Second One," premiering Wednesday night on Syfy), there isn't much for a critic to say except to echo what the characters themselves so frequently scream when confronted by a great white shark spinning toward them in a funnel cloud:
    "LOOK OUT!!"

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140729-AMX-GIVHAN292.jpg Spanx stretches into new territory with jeans, but promised magic is elusive

    The Spanx empire of stomach-flattening, thigh-slimming, jiggle-reducing foundation garments has expanded to include what the brand promises is the mother of all body-shaping miracles: Spanx jeans.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo