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FEATURES | 9 out of 10
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The Car Connection
The 2014 Kia Soul is offered in three different trim levels: base Soul, Soul Plus (+), and Soul Exclaim (!). Prices start at just $15,495 for a reasonably well-equipped base model with a six-speed manual gearbox and the 1.6-liter engine. But if you’re willing to add a five-figure sum to that modest bottom line, you can load up a Soul to include things that are unusual in a mainstream model--like a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, and cooled/ventilated front seats. What’s more, connectivity and infotainment—and the optional navigation system—are fully up to snuff with the systems available in much more expensive, premium vehicles.
For just $15,495, the base Soul includes power locks, windows, and mirrors, heated mirrors, a tilt/telescopic steering wheel, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, and a six-speaker sound system with USB and auxiliary inputs as well as SiriusXM satellite radio with a three-month introduction.
At the Soul Plus level, you get larger 17-inch alloy wheels, turn-signal indicators in the side mirrors, automatic headlamps, and some other minor cosmetic differences, plus a rearview camera system, rear-seat center armrest, and a floor-console storage box with integrated armrest in front. It also includes the larger eight-inch display, as well as the UVO eServices suites of apps and extras. Curiously, this new system is based on an Android linux operating system—not Microsoft, as in other versions of UVO—and based on an early encounter with this system we found it refreshingly quick, without even a hint of the lagginess that some other such systems have.
Step up to the Soul Exclaim and you get 18-inch alloys, fog lamps, projector headlamps, and LED running lamps front and back. Inside, there’s special glossy piano black trim, as well as a cooled glovebox, a ten-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.
Options on both the Plus and Exclaim include upgraded Infinity audio, LED speaker-mounted mood lighting, navigation, and a panoramic sunroof, while you can option a top Exclaim to include HID headlamps, push-button start, automatic climate control, and full leather seating with heating and ventilation/cooling in front and heated outboard positions in back.
Altogether, the 2014 Soul Exclaim adds up to less than $27k with the whole shebang—literally, as you add something called The Whole Shebang Package ($2,500) to add the leather seats, ventilated front seats, heated front and rear seats, heated steering wheel, push-button start, HID low-beam headlamps, and Supervision gauge cluster with integral TFT color display. To get that, you first need the $2,500 Sun and Sound Package, including navigation, Infinity audio, speaker lights, auto climate control, and the panoramic roof.
A heated steering wheel and ventilated, cooled front seats, and HID headlamps in a compact car? The 2014 Kia Soul packs all that into top-trim versions; but it’s quite the deal at the base level, too.