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As many cities are going through revitalization processes with buildings, homes, parks and even demographics, so is Kia with their all-new 2014 Soul. Keeping pace with the changing urban market and its needs, the Korean automaker is doing just that with its mini crossover. To explore the updated DNA and experience the attributes of the little guy we recently ventured to Minneapolis, Minnesota for the national press introduction. Fun, fascinating and trendy are the impressions we were left with.

The Soul has wowed millions with Kia’s creative hamster campaigns, NBA promotions, and numerous pop culture integrations. It was only fitting that the vehicle match the hype. Upon first view it is immediately obvious that the Soul has been upgraded from top to bottom with a hipper persona. I sat back and said to myself “that’s a cool looking vehicle.” Some of the new features include a platform offering more legroom and head and shoulder comfort with seating for 5 passengers contentedly. The Soul looks small from the outside, but once inside, there is plenty of room to stretch out. The cargo area has also been increased for more storage options.

The new Soul’s interior is designed with soft touch materials and hand stitched leather. The seats felt very comfortable with the lumbar support becoming a favorite of mine. As far as the power goes, two engine options are available to get this nifty vehicle going: a 1.6-liter or a 2.0-liter I4, both with Gasoline Direct Injection. Coming in at 130-horsepower and 164-horsepower respectively, both options are more than enough to get around the city with impressive performance. The vehicle I tested was the 2.0-liter version, handling quite well in and around town. Out on the open, country roads, this setup with the Kumho tires gripping the road allowed the Soul to handle all corners and curves experienced adequately. The suspension consists of front MacPherson coil spring struts with a rear torsion beam axle. Yes, it is a bit sluggish when an extra “boost” is called upon. I understand that this isn’t a sports car, but a little more acceleration power would be useful such as entering highway ramps when needed.

The new interior is complimented by a redesigned center stack with an 8-inch touch screen housing navigation with real-time road updates, a premium Infinity audio system, SiriusXM Satellite Radio with SiriusXM Traffic, and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity. A secondary 4.3-inch screen sits within the instrument cluster. The coolest design touch might be the illuminated speakers which actually light up and oscillate to the beat of the music. A redesigned panoramic sunroof is on point as well. The Soul also has 60/40 split-folding, third-row seating which is optional on all models.

Technology in the Soul comes equipped with Kia’s UVO telematics and infotainment eServices. UVO aka Your Voice, features voice and touch-activation access to manage music files and hands-free mobile communication. It connects with your smartphone and also offers roadside assistance, vehicle maintenance schedule, 911 safety calls, directions, parking reminders and custom vehicle settings. While several manufacturers offer similar services and features, Kia is looking to break the norm by providing this service free of charge for 10 years or 100,000 miles and is transferable. In today’s economy, this is a valuable option when determining what vehicle to purchase.

When deciphering any automobile the discussion of safety is critical. This compact includes dual front advanced airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Its 4-wheel anti-lock brakes are vented solid discs all around. If that wasn’t enough, more safety includes a Traction Control System, Front and rear crumple zones, side-impact door beams and Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children.

Starting at $14,700 for the Soul entry model and $20,300 for the Soul!, this little piece of wonder is competitively priced with enough options to contend with consumer’s diverse needs while presenting itself with added flair.


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