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Mike West Road Test: 2014 Kia Soul

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I got behind the wheel of a lime green KIA Soul When the original model was introduced back in 2009. I wasn’t sure if it was the car or the color that caused people to point and stare. And now, here we are in 2014 and the KIA gets a refresh and more crazy color options. I drove one that looked like coffee and cream. In fact, KIA calls it Latte Brown. Nailed it.

They also nailed the advertising campaign. Everyone who stopped me made sure I knew that they knew I was driving the hamster called. The 2014 Kia Soul is a front-wheel drive hatchback offered in three trim levels: Base, Plus and Exclaim. The base model has a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and a six-speed manual transmission, while the model I drove for a week is packed with a snappier 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. The five-seat Soul has been completely redesigned for 2014. KIA took an already great ride and made it even better. The updated Soul is a tad longer and wider than the old hamster-mobile, but unless you put them side-by-side, you probably wouldn’t notice.

What you would notice is a better ride due to a redesigned chassis and tweaked rear suspension. The 2014 is more substantial, sophisticated and quieter on the open road.

The interior was a big surprise. The quality of materials has improved, the switchgear is great and the navigation system blew me away. This is about as modern as you can get in a new vehicle. When you put the Soul in reverse and see the rear view camera video on the screen it’s like watching a high definition TV. Amazing! They still offer the crazy speaker lights that either cycle through colors or react to the thump of the music that you are piping through the optional and good sounding Infinity audio system.

Fuel economy comes in at 23 city and 31 highway. Not bad. Price for the KIA you see in the photos, $26,195.00. Check out the picture of the window sticker. You get a lot of stuff for the money.

When you have a hit on your hands, you don’t want to mess it up. The Soul is the second best selling car in the KIA lineup. KIA didn’t screw it up; they made it better in just about every way.

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