It’s been a long time since we’ve done a Tech Inside. Perhaps this is the start of the beginning of more of these to come for our PhoneDog readers and viewers. I like to drive many vehicles, regardless of the attributes of the vehicle itself. If it has two wheels or four and a company wants to let me drive it, I’m in. So when KIA asked me to drive their 2014 KIA Soul, I said, “Why the hell not?”
Every single time I think about the KIA Soul, I'm reminded of the cute little hamsters in their commercials. I think of Maroon 5 and hip-hop. It’s weird, I know. Anyway, I woke up one cold December day, looked outside on my driveway, and there it was: a bright red 2014 KIA Soul. I thought to myself, "Oh boy." It was going to be an interesting seven days.
The year 2014 was an interesting model year for the Soul because it was the redesign year for the vehicle. It gained larger tail lights, a revised front facia, and the car's body grew larger. I thought it looked good.
The KIA Soul was never really my cup of tea. I love fast driving performance vehicles, so this Soul is a little out of my comfort zone. It has a 1.5L four cylinder engine pumping out 130 horsepower. It has even less in torque figures: only 118 foot-punds. Its price tag makes up for that, though, coming in at under $20,000. You can get a Soul for around $16,500 with plenty of options to make the vehicle much more comfortable.
So then I opened the door and looked at the interior. Man, oh man is this thing loaded. In recent years, KIA has stepped up its game. It's no longer a company plagued by its past of unreliable vehicles with crap interiors. It's are known for a few things now, one being spec’d out interiors. More on the others later. The Sould I drove was running Microsoft Sync on the dash, had Bluetooth streaming, satellite radio, HD radio, the whole nine yards. It had more options standard than any BMW, Mercedes-Benz, or Audi has on their lists. It even had heated seats, which were going to be my best friends on those cold December nights.
The tech inside (just used the name of our series, ha!) of the KIA Soul was amazing. I was in disbelief. Usually, cars sent for reviews are maxed out in options list. Sometimes these options make these vehicles we drive fairly expensive. However, this Soul didn't follow the same path. It had options, but they weren’t expensive!
Using the technology in the KIA Soul was a pretty standard experience. I was not "wowed" by the tech; I mean, we’ve seen this interface on previous KIAs. It’s a quick, responsive system that's easy to use. It’s primarily a touch-based system, which is both good and bad these days. If this were 2008, I would say touch is 10 times better than any of those iDrive or "Kommand" systems found on the German executive vehicles, but touchscreen inputs can prove to be a bit finicky, especially while driving. It’s best if you input everything you need before you set off.
The media options inside the KIA Soul were also very impressive. I’m a proud supporter of independent music applications such as Spotify and I require Bluetooth streaming support in any vehicle I drive. Thankfully, the KIA Soul gave me just that. Setup was a breeze and the audio quality was impressive. I had upgraded speakers in my tester and they sounded great. There was even some mood lighting around the speakers. Also included are Sirius XM radio and HD radio, if you like that sort of stuff.
Now it’s on to the driving. The little 1.5L four-banger was fine. Don’t expect blistering acceleration runs and fast slalom times; this is a front wheel drive, under-powered city hopper. The plus side to this is miles per gallon, which I got plenty in my week of driving. With my lead foot, I managed more than 25 MPG. If I gave the KIA Soul to my mother (bless her heart), she could probably swing those numbers into the high 20s or even low 30s, as advertised by KIA. The engine noise is well muted. The cabin offers plenty of luxury features for the low price of entry. There is wind noise, though, mainly from the boxy shape of the thing. It's nothing extreme, but you should know that it's there.
My seven days of driving the Soul were pretty nice. I didn’t need to fill up the whole week and I managed a little more than 400 miles to the tank. I enjoyed the tech, the comfort, and the heated seats...I loved the heated seats.
So should you buy a KIA Soul? Honestly, if you want a city-hopper that has funk and a low price, why not? It’s a funky car for sure, and while its style may not be for everyone, KIAs are so good these days. The only thing some may consider to be is "bad" is the company's name, but that's not really a true negative. KIA has a 10 year/100,000 mile warranty on Soul's power train, which is literally the best in the business. I don’t understand why people complain about KIA cars anymore. They're fine machines and the Soul is one really does have a soul.