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2014 Kia Soul Overview
The 2014 Kia Soul emerges from its first refresh completely different if you look just beneath its seemingly unchanged surface. Adding yet more ultra-high-strength steel to its chassis for a one-third-stiffer frame while growing about a half-inch in every dimension but height means the casual observer probably won't notice a single difference from the outside, despite the added body lines. Sit inside and the massive materials overhaul (including a noise-dampening windshield) definitely stands out, but perhaps less obvious would be the extra quarter-inch of passenger wiggle room and widened hatchback opening. However, last but probably most: Kia finally decided the base model is allowed to offer an automatic transmission option.
Carrying over to 2014 in the same base Soul, midlevel Soul+ (Plus) and top-shelf Soul! (Exclaim), this first refresh is aimed at solving problems and further perfecting the first-generation Soul rather than pushing any envelopes. That goof on estimated fuel economy tests made the vast majority of Soul drivers quite verbally sour at its meager 250-mile mixed-driving range on a 12-gallon tank, and the previously cheap plastics left some wondering how to get accidentally removed panels back into the dash. The Soul's flat-top doesn't help road noise either, but that was a truly minor contention next to the other two. Otherwise, some drivers found so much merit in the Soul they bought it more than once.
A real charmer amongst tall people and haulers who can use all 53 cubic feet of cargo space, the Soul is widely touted as easy to get into and exit, easy to load up, easy to handle and easy on the eyes. Well, unless you're trying to look through one of the thick back roof pillars—then it's not so easy. The good news is this more-rigid body should improve the Soul's already-impressive safety scores. The ride could be smoother, but one experienced driver suggests switching the tires to something softer than the factory set, which should work even if the new body muddies up the ride quality.
As for which engine to get—the 1.6-liter 4-cylinder or 2-liter 4-cylinder—drivers say the 1.6 offers "enough" power and a true-to-life fuel diet around 25 mpg city/30 highway in the 2013. The 2-liter could be tempting with its 164 horses and 151 lb-ft of torque on tap, but the 2013 reportedly does no better than 28 mpg highway, and drivers warn it's often much worse. There's nothing official yet, but if the drop of 8 hp and 5 lb-ft from the 1.6-liter's specs are any indication, its ratings will change. Now rated for 130 hp and 118 lb-ft of torque, the 1.6-liter engine also now takes on either the 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic anywhere in the lineup, just like its decidedly thirstier 2-liter brother.
Your prototypical "Tom Girl" Patricia got her start digging into Ford engines before she aged into double digits. Gifted with a mechanical mind, her favorite pass-time in the summer is picking up a fixer-up'r at the local public auction and massaging its every ailment until it's primed for a new lover. From dirt bikes to land yachts, every partner offers something truly special in her love affair with the road - just don't tell her husband.