Car Review: 2014 Kia Soul

kia_soul_1

The new 2014 Kia Soul is a testament for just how far small utility vehicles have progressed in today’s market. We drove a solar yellow Soul for a week and discovered that this is not only a fun car, but refined beyond what we expected. The 2014 Kia Soul’s all-new take on design, driving dynamics and desirable features totally transform one of Kia Motors America’s best-selling cars into an urban utility vehicle that is as comfortable in the city as it is on the open highway.

EXTERIOR

When the wild Track’ster concept made its debut in 2012, Soul enthusiasts and pundits alike urged Kia to turn the aggressively fun fantasy into reality. With 18 months from design freeze to production, the stage was set for the all-new Soul, and many of the concept’s dramatic design cues can be found in the production vehicle. The upright stance, squared shoulders and distinctive fender flares are instantly recognizable as Soul. Combining a longer 101.2-inch wheelbase (up 0.8 inches), overall width that’s broadened to 70.9 inches (increased by 0.6 inches) and a reduced overall height of 63.0 inches (decreased by 0.4 inches) adds a more aggressive edge to the all-new Soul’s appearance. Likewise, the wraparound greenhouse, high-mounted tail lights and upright stance are all hallmark design elements. Premium touches such as available LED front positioning lights and rear LED halo lights help connect Soul to siblings within the Kia lineup that share similar design cues, such as the 2014 Sorento CUV and 2014 Forte sedan.

Exterior Track’ster similarities are easy to spot. The large trapezoidal lower air intake is nearly a direct carryover from the concept, and the location of the available fog lights – down low and pushed to the leading edges – mirror those found on the Track’ster. Kia’s signature grille is present, but it’s been reworked to more closely resemble the concept. Adding a touch of flair, the unique “floating” body-color panel inset into the lift gate originated with the Track’ster as well. Subtle enhancements include a wider (by 2.4 inches over the previous Soul) opening for the lift gate, allowing Soul to swallow more stuff. There is a smooth feel to the skin of the 2014 Kia Soul that exudes confidence and appeals to the eyes. The Soul Exclaim as tested adds to the Plus, with standard features like 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 235/45R-18 tires, fog lights, body-color bumper “tusks,” projector head lights, front LED positioning lights and rear LED halo lights.

INTERIOR

Our test model was equipped with extra options from head to toe, and we appreciated them more and more as the week moved on. Overall, the design paid particular attention to instilling a more premium look and feel to the 2014 Soul’s interior. Liberal applications of soft-touch materials are found on the instrument panel, center console and door panels. Details such as our media car’s leather trimmed seating with improved lateral and thigh support, and the use of high-gloss piano-black trim pieces on the center console and dash, elevate the Soul’s interior to new levels of sophistication. The panoramic sunroof with a power sunshade was spectacular, navigation with a whopping 8-inch screen was bright and clear, and the Infinity audio system was spot on with a strong bass!

Read the rest of this entry »

  

You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook for content updates. Also, sign up for our email list for weekly updates and check us out on Google+ as well.

Car Review: 2014 Kia Forte EX

kia_forte_1

When a car company redesigns an already great-selling sedan, there’s a lot of pressure to get it right. The new 2014 Kia Forte EX sits on an all-new chassis that is longer, wider and lower than the previous-generation Forte, offering more room, performance and premium amenities than previous models. We had the chance to test drive the new Forte and came away with some of the following impressions.

EXTERIOR

The crimson red paint color on the skin of the Forte looked as good as just about any finish on a car in this class. With an aggressive stance, broad shoulders and a windshield rake that can only be described as sporty, the all-new Forte looks as good parked as it does at speed. Influenced by European sport sedan styling, the Forte’s modern aesthetics were born in California at Kia’s American Design Center in Irvine. Dramatically swept headlight lenses cut deeply into the front fenders and incorporate projector headlamps. LED positioning lights create distinct eyebrows, making the Forte instantly recognizable in a crowd. Gentle sculpting along the Forte’s lower flanks taper the sheet metal inward, affording the car a taut, nimble appearance without diminishing its road presence. Around back, the up-kicked fender line and trunk design, with its deep horizontal crease, lend width and charisma while allowing the complex curves of the tail lights to flow over the car’s haunches.

INTERIOR

Opening the wide doors reveals a cabin sculpted in organic curves. Gentle character lines evoke ripples radiating from a pebble dropped into a pond. The driver-centric cabin is canted 10 degrees and features high-quality materials and soft touch points. Large, easy-to-read instruments dominate the binnacle, and secondary controls fall easily to hand. The optional 4.2-inch color LCD screen nestled between the white-on-black gauges in the EX provides trip and ancillary vehicle information front and center to the driver. Tasteful chrome bezels ring the HVAC rotary knobs and the optional push-button start. Additional chrome accents, standard Bluetooth hands-free phone integration and power windows, mirrors and door locks enhance the all-new Forte’s premium feel. Optional leather seating trim, power sunroof, and dual-zone automatic climate control with rear seat vents and HID head lights take the Forte to new levels of sophistication. Although our test vehicle came with cloth seats and no sunroof, we were more than pleased with the quality of the materials and the fit and finish of the interior space. Speaking of space, the roominess is plenty and quite deceptive until one sits inside the 2014 Kia Forte EX.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

Car Review: 2014 KIA Sorento EX AWD

kia_sorento_1

The redesigned Sorento that is built in Georgia has come out of the gate with fanfare and strong sales. The Sorento delivers an impressive roster of premium features and amenities that impressed us throughout our week of testing.

EXTERIOR

In a segment more often known for bland utility, the new 2014 Sorento sports dynamic and sophisticated design elements, inside and out. Redesigned front and rear fascias enhance the Sorento’s road presence with a lower, broader appearance up front and a visually wider stance at the rear. The ubiquitous Kia tiger-nose grille is enhanced with an anodized silver metal or black mesh appearance, and the lower valance has been opened to expose an aggressive cross-hatched maw. Front LED positioning lamps create dramatic eyebrows, while projector-style headlights peer from behind tapered clear lenses. Available fog lights on all trim models have been upended and pushed to the far corners of the front bumper for better forward and side visibility. Horizontally positioned rear LED combination lamps embrace the turn signal and back-up lights, emitting a warm corona that makes the 2014 Sorento instantly recognizable from behind. Our Sorento EX AWD sported 18-inch alloy wheels, but there are also 17-inch and, a first for Kia’s best-selling CUV, larger 19-inch wheels. The look of the 2014 KIA Sorento EX AWD resembles some higher end CUVs, but still establishes her own presence with a sophisticated and modern design.

INTERIOR

There is elegance everywhere in the 2014 KIA Sorento EX AWD, and we took notice from the time we stepped in the cabin. A redesigned instrument panel deftly combines technology with proven ergonomics. Standard on EX and optionally available on the LX trim, the large center gauge cluster features a 7-inch TFT LCD that projects a digital speedometer flanked by easy-to-read analog instruments for the tachometer, fuel level and engine temp. The TFT LCD readout also displays trip and vehicle information, along with navigation updates. The center stack’s appearance and layout has been modernized and button positions have been rearranged for a more user-friendly experience.

The new design also provides room for Kia’s new, larger touch screen. Diagonally spanning eight inches, the optional screen on our test model integrates navigation, SiriusXM Traffic with real-time road information updates, a premium Infinity audio system, SiruisXM Satellite Radio, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, vehicle settings and UVO eServices, Kia’s next generation of infotainment and telematics. Other new available features in the 2014 Sorento include Kia’s first-ever programmable power liftgate, a redesigned and enormous panoramic sunroof with a one piece power-operated shade, integrated second row sliding sunshades, available dual ventilated air-cooled front seats, a 115-volt power inverter and illuminated door handle pockets. Our beige leather seats were first class and provided heated seats that you could not place a dollar value on in zero degree Ohio temperatures!

Read the rest of this entry »

  

Car Review: 2014 Kia Soul

Cold, rainy and dreary sounds like a reasonable weather forecast for October in the mid-western United States, at least by my experiences. I landed in Minneapolis prepared for the weather and ready to experience the latest in Kia’s product refreshes for the model year.

Kia had invited us to the product launch of the latest version of the trendy Kia Soul. Why Minneapolis? Kia wanted to highlight the youthful edge of the new Soul against the backdrop of the “Totally Transformed” city. Minnesota in the fall is a great testing ground for a new car.

It’s been an amazing few years for Kia. In 2008, the company had a market share of 1.9%, selling around 270,000 vehicles that year. They were virtually non-existent in the top 20 markets in the US, with no signature cars or trucks to raise them above the pack. Things were bad; something dramatic needed to be done to transform the company from an also-ran to a competitive force in the market.

The original Soul was launched as a 2010 (2009 in Asia) model, aimed at filling a gap in Kia’s model line that appealed to young aspiring drivers. Competing directly with other boxy subcompacts like the Scion xB and the Nissan Cube, the Soul etched out a respectable niche.

But the real story of the Soul begins with Michael Sprague, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Communications, approving the now-viral “Hamster” advertising campaign. The edgy feel and catchy music of the ad spots appealed to the youthful market Kia was courting in a way the competition never seemed to match.

Propelled by the successful marketing and other popular models such as the Optima, Kia has increased sales by 250% since 2008. The Soul was huge on Kia’s bottom line.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

Car Review: 2013 Kia Sportage SX AWD

kia_sportage_1

There is no denying the Hollywood good looks of the 2013 KIA Sportage SX AWD, but can this crossover deliver on the road? After a week behind the wheel, there is no doubt that there’s so much more than just curb appeal to this sleek ride from KIA, with impressive power, outstanding fuel efficiency and loads of comfort and convenience features.

EXTERIOR

The 2013 Kia Sportage offers a high beltline, sweeping angles and pronounced wheel flares, conveying an indomitable road presence with an aggressive, hunkered-down stance. The full-sectioned body, defined by a spearing shoulder line throughout the length of the car, helps to visually connect the headlamps and tail lights. The crispness of this line, together with its lowered body, creates a distinct sense of precision while the pronounced C pillar conveys an air of solidity and balance when viewed from the side. Like all vehicles across the Kia lineup, the Sportage’s front end proudly displays the face of the brand’s signature tabbed grille and dramatic swept back headlamps. The dynamically sculpted hood, framed by a distinctive windshield design, adds to Sportage’s fresh appeal. The rear view offers a clean and contemporary look with dynamic tail lights set within the rear lift gate.

Our red test model was a top-of-the-line Sportage SX with a powerful yet fuel-efficient 2.0-liter turbocharged GDI engine producing 260-horsepower, unique 18-inch alloy wheels, dual exhaust, sculpted side sill moldings and unique SX grille. One of the better looking exterior designs for a crossover regardless of price!

INTERIOR

The good looks carry over with ease into a modern and smart interior that has much more room that one might imagine. KIA has created an inviting and comfortable environment with a host of convenience and technology features in the 2013 KIA Sportage SX AWD. With the signature three-gauge instrument cluster set prominently within the dash, Sportage’s interior exudes a contemporary design and sporty driving experience.

An impressive collection of technology features come standard on the 2013 Sportage, including an AM/FM/CD/MP3/Sat audio system with available Sirius XM Satellite Radio and three months complimentary service, standard auxiliary and USB audio input jacks with MP3 capability, Bluetooth hands-free phone, and streaming audio connectivity with steering wheel-mounted voice activation controls that allow drivers to keep their hands on the wheel at all times.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

Related Posts