There is comfort in knowing the Soul isn’t just liked by the initial buyer but by the used car buyer too…

The Kia Soul has been on my recommendation list ever since it came out in 2010.

For those looking for something bigger than a compact car but not as large or expensive as a compact SUV, it works.

The original Soul was one of the first vehicles to receive Kia’s new design architecture. That bold, fun attitude and design has been improved in for 2014, taking the best of the old model and updating it to a whole other level. The 2014 Soul recently won the Red Dot Design Award, kind of like the Academy Awards for car design and it also took home the Best Family Car under $30,000 from the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). So, it’s already off to a good start in its first year of production and should be considered by anyone looking at a compact car replacement.

Looks

What is the Soul and how does it compare to the rest of the market? Well, it falls in size between a compact hatchback car and a small SUV, a true crossover. The two main rivals for this car are the Nissan Cube and Scion XB, but compared to those cars this is a much more polished effort in design and content. The body has been updated with slightly larger dimensions in width and length but the roof has been dropped by a centimeter. The front air intake is much bigger and the headlights look more aggressive. The back has a large black section around the rear bumper to help lift the eye, where the older car had a long, slightly droopy back end. Prices range from $16,995 all the way to $26,995 for the model scene here. That might sound like a lot but this top SX Luxury trim is packed with goodies that would cost a lot more on a compact SUV. It has polished alloy wheels, HID headlamps and LED tail lamps, a huge panoramic sunroof and automatic folding outside mirrors.

Inside

What continues to amaze me is just what is offered in a compact vehicle and Kia, in particular, jams more stuff in than anyone else. This top model has heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, leather seats, a big 8-inch navigation screen with backup camera, satellite radio, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, power moon roof and more. Now most buyers will shop in the middle EX trim and it starts at $20,895 also well equipped. One of the main reasons for the popularity of the Soul is the ease of use, meaning older buyers can get into the car thanks to the big doors and slightly higher seats, when compared with a compact car. The back seat is very roomy and has a flat floor for easy access for children. The cargo rear isn’t as big as a compact SUV but for a city runabout it does a great job because there is storage under the floor and the seats fold for more room.

Drive

Kia has a two-engine approach to the Soul. The base model gets a 130hp 1.6L 4-cylinder engine and all other trim levels get a larger 2.0L engine with 164hp. The same is true with the transmission; the base has a standard 6-speed manual transmission and all others get a 6-speed auto. The larger 2.0L engine was introduced into the last model but now it has the benefit of an updated chassis to get the most out of the Soul in terms of handling. The body has been strengthened and attention has been placed on noise and vibration from the engine and suspension. This all comes together to make a great city car that can dash in and out of traffic with ease and lets the passengers relax and enjoy the cars amenities. One of the reasons I think this is an alternative to a small SUV is the high seating position, great outward visibility and solid fuel economy, using 8.5L/100km in the city and 6.6L on the highway. The Soul would be just fine in the winter if driven sensibly and equipped with proper winter tires. Not everyone needs all wheel drive; front wheel drive is just fine.

Verdict

The Soul is already an award winner and has a dedicated buyer base. In fact, the Soul also won the 2014 ALG Residual Value Award for the subcompact utility class. This means that, the company, ALG believes this Soul will hold its value better than the competition. Yes, this class is small but there is comfort in knowing the Soul isn’t just liked by the initial buyer but by the used car buyer too.

If you are in the market for a compact hatchback or small SUV, do yourself a favour and try the Soul. My fully loaded tester was about the same price as a most base model compact SUVs but this runabout has attitude to spare.

Contact: zack [dot] spencer [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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The Lowdown

Power: 1.6L 4-cylinder with 130hp or 2.0L with 164hp

Fill-up: 8.5L/6.6L/100km (city/highway)

Sticker price: $16,995-$26,995

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