Based on the Track’ster concept that was unveiled in 2012, the fully redesigned 2014 Kia Soul has been revealed in New York about four years after the brand made its premiere.
It rides on a stiffer, longer and wider chassis, with bigger dimensions and lower NVH values. It will be launched in three trim levels (Base, Plus and Exclaim) in the U.S. market in the third quarter of this year. Prices will be announced during the launch.
The design is penned by Kia’s California studio under the leadership of Tom Kearns, with guidance and inputs coming from Peter Schreyer in Germany and Kia's design studio in Korea. It has taken them 18 months from design freeze to trial production.
The wheelbase has been stretched to 101.2-inches (up 0.8 inches), with the overall width broadened to 70.9 inches (increased by 0.6 inches) while retaining the overall height of 63.4 inches.
The wraparound greenhouse, high-mounted stoplights and elevated ride height which are signature design elements of the Soul, have rightfully been featured on the incoming model. LED front positioning lights and rear LED “halo” lights connect the car to its siblings such as the 2014 Sorento and the 2014 Forte sedan.
There are plenty of similarities to the Kia Track’ster concept on the production model such as the wide trapezoidal lower air intake, the placement of the fog lights and the "floating" panel inset on the tailgate. Talking about the tailgate, it is a little wider (2.4 inches precisely) to enable easier loading and better luggage volume.
Kia hasn't finalized the names, but says there will be seven new exterior colors.
Moving to the interior, Kia has introduced soft-touch materials in more places. Seats are trimmed in leather and have better lateral and thigh support. High-gloss piano black trim is used on the center console for a sophisticated feel.
Here again, Kia designers used the circular theme used on the Track’ster.The center console features a round gear shift knob and push-button start. The door speakers are circular and the switches on the steering wheel are circular too. The design theme of the interior is "droplets falling into a still pond."
The instrument panel is fitted with an eight-inch touch screen, which is central to Kia’s second-generation telematics and infotainment system, UVO eServices2, that works on an Android-based operating platform.
Compared to the outgoing car, the new Soul will have a quieter cabin with improvements to the front leg room (42.9 inches, 0.8 inches more than the current Soul), rear leg room (up 0.2 inches to 39.1), front headroom (up 0.2 inches to 39.6) and front seat shoulder room (up 0.3 inches to 55.5). The hip-point has been lowered by 0.5-inches and the step-in height is down by 0.2 inches.
Increased use of sound deadening materials has lowered noise levels by roughly 3 decibels.
The Soul, riding on a chassis that is 29% stiffer, has better ride quality and handling through heavily revised front and rear suspension setups, Kia claims. Suspension travel has been increased to improve ride comfort.
The 2014 Kia Soul is powered by a gasoline direct injection (GDI) 130 horsepower/160Nm 1.6-liter all-aluminum DOHC four-cylinder engine. It is paired to a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission.
The Plus and Exclaim variants get a bigger 2.0-liter engine with 164 horsepower and 204 Nm of torque. The Plus model can be had with either transmissions while the Exclaim is available exclusively with the six-speed automatic transmission.