2014 Kia Soul

2014 Kia Soul

Episode 3329
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

Almost from the moment it arrived here for the 2010 model year, the Kia Soul became one of the brand’s top sellers. Its quirky design, low price, and the cute rodent advertising campaign, quickly made the Soul unforgettable. While aimed at the young, buyers from gen y to baby boomers were drawn to the Soul. Now, there is an all-new second generation Soul. So, let’s see if the 2014 Soul’s mass appeal is intact, or if it’s just grown up and out.

It seems like the Kia Soul has been around for a lot longer than just 4 years. You see them everywhere, no matter what social circle you travel in. But with the 2nd generation 2014 Soul, Kia is looking to see its social standing raised just a bit. 

You see, despite originally being aimed at younger buyers, the Soul has proven very popular with mature drivers who found a “Soulmate” in Kia’s roomy bargain box on wheels. 

On that point, the new Soul has a much more refined nature. To say the ride quality is greatly improved is an understatement. The chassis is stiffer, and a new subframe, mounted with impact absorbing bushings, and longer travel suspension, smooth things out exponentially.    

The MacPherson strut front suspension has been further revised by moving the stabilizer bar rearward and the steering box forward. An additional 8/10ths of an inch of wheelbase helps as well, though even after all of that, a minority of our drivers still found the ride to be “bumpy”. All agreed it has gotten much quieter inside and is now a fairly comfortable place to spend daily commute time.

Engines choices are the same as before, but both have been tinkered with. The standard and already lethargic 1.6-liter actually rates less horsepower and torque than last year. The 2.0-liter in our Soul Exclaim adds direct injection for the same 164-horsepower but a small but welcomed boost in torque to 151 lb-ft. 

Inside, we were very impressed with the upscale redesign. The bargain bling of the original has given way to a much more welcoming atmosphere. Mature drivers will like the new soft touch materials and the next gen. UVO infotainment system. Happily, Kia did keep a few of the Soul’s original youthful elements like the signature pulsating speaker lights. 

But the most important change for all age groups is the improved seat comfort and overall roomier and more useful cabin. Cargo capacity is up to 24.2 cubic-ft. behind the folding rear seatbacks, 61.3 cubic-ft. with them flat. 

The decidedly upscale Sun and Sound option package adds a panoramic sunroof, Infinity audio system, Navigation with a large 8-inch touch screen display, and automatic temperature control. And the available Supervision instrument cluster features a 4.3-inch color LCD screen between the tach. and speedometer. 

Push button start, heated and ventilated leather front seats, heated rear seats, and heated steering wheel are all offered as well.

Kia also wisely decided not to tinker too much with the Soul’s unique exterior styling, sticking with the same boxy bulldog shape as before, even though all sheet metal is new. It’s now more rounded, less squared off, and a tad more aggressive thanks to the larger openings up front and a wider stance.

LED positioning lights are standard on Exclaim model, but the HID headlights come as part of the “Whole Shebang Package”. Fenders are still very pronounced and the blacked-out A-pillars give a wraparound visor look to the greenhouse. 

Exclaim trim also adds a halo treatment to the high mounted tail lights that lend a 70’s disco era sci-fi look.

Standard wheels are 16-inches, with the Exclaim riding on 18’s. But, you won’t exactly be spinning those wheels off the line too much, as power, even with the 2.0-liter, is adequate at best. Sprints to 60 take a sleepy 8.9–seconds. 

The 1.6-liter Soul comes with a 6-speed manual, but a 6-speed automatic transmission is standard with the 2.0. Shifts were soft, and power slow to build on the way to a quarter mile time of 17.0-seconds and 84 miles-per-hour. 

But once we started tackling the cones, we began to find some “soul”-ful fun. Despite the more refined ride of the new Soul, handling has also improved. Turn in is quick, and both under and over steer can be found if you go looking. Brake performance is also impressive with consistent stops from 60 averaging a short 118-feet. 

Government Fuel Economy Ratings are little changed. The 2.0-liter rates 23-City, 31-Highway, and 26-Combined. Fortunately even our lead footed drivers were able to achieve 26.8 miles-per-gallon of Regular in a mixed loop of driving. The Energy Impact Score is good at 12.7-barrels of yearly oil usage and 5.6-tons of CO2 emitted.

Even with prices sneaking up just a little, value continues to be a strong selling point; with base Souls starting at $15,695. Mid-level Plus models, at $19,195 and top-of-the-line Exclaims start at $21,295. 

The Soul became an unqualified success in a single generation. And after some soul searching of our own, we conclude that the mostly very well executed updates will expand the 2014 Kia Soul’s mass appeal even more.


  • Engine: 2.0-liter
  • Horsepower: 164
  • Torque: 151 lb-ft.
  • 0-60 mph: 8.9 seconds
  • 1/4 mile: 17.0 seconds @ 84 mph
  • EPA: 23 mpg city/ 31 mpg highway
  • Energy Impact: 12.7 barrels of oil/yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 5.6 tons/yr
2023 Mazda3

2023 Mazda3

Still The Same Mazda3, Just A Bit Better

Episode 4304
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

When the fourth-gen Mazda3 arrived for 2019, it grew a little more stylish, a lot more upscale; and loads more practical too, adding all-wheel drive into the mix for the first time. How does it get better than that? Well, for ’23 the 3 adds an engine update that promises to deliver more power and better efficiency. Time to speak truth to this power.

The Mazda3 has always been a great compact car, big on both fun and value, and has earned numerous MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Awards over the years. This current-gen has been on the road for 4-years now, and it gets even better for 2023.

Starting with the powertrain, the base 2.0-liter I4 has been eliminated leaving just 2 versions of the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, turbo and non-turbo. Base versions get a 5-horsepower bump to 191-horsepower, along with updates for its cylinder deactivation system. The 2.5 Turbo fits standard all-wheel drive and outputs the same 250-horsepower and 320 lb-ft. of torque as last year; provided you use Premium gas. Max ratings drop to 227-horsepower and 310 lb-ft. with Regular.

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A 6-speed manual transmission remains available in front-wheel drive 3s, but AWDs come exclusively with a sport-tuned 6-speed automatic. We found it well-sorted and seemingly always on the same page as us whether we were shuffling through back roads or sitting in traffic. There is a softer overall feel compared to Mazda3s of old, which you’ll appreciate when encountering harsh pavement, but it still feels plenty agile when called upon.

That softer feel certainly carries over inside, where it has gotten much quieter, and quite nicely finished, consistent with Mazda’s Audi-like premium intentions. All 3s get an 8.8-inch center display, and all of the fingerprints on our test car’s screen signifies most people assume it’s a touchscreen. It’s not, however, as inputs are made with a rotary controller on the console. It’s not the most intuitive system, but once you’re past the learning curve, it’s tolerable.

The rear seat room doesn’t have the roomy feel of the Subaru Impreza, but space is certainly more than adequate compared to the rest of the compact set. Rear cargo space for this hatchback rates a good 20.1 cubic-ft. with trunk space in the sedan coming in at 13.2 cubic-ft. So yes, the Mazda3 remains available in both sedan and hatchback, but we still prefer the 5-door hatch both for its practicality and for its sporty looks. Top Turbo Premium Plus gets gloss black aero treatments including a roof spoiler and front air dam.

At the test track, power from the 2.5-turbo felt more than adequate off the line, using all-wheel-drive grip to bite into the pavement and get up and go to 60 in 6.0-seconds flat. There was virtually no turbo lag, and the engine felt nicely refined with its power delivery. Transmission operation was equally as smooth and kept the power flowing quite effectively throughout the ¼-mile, which ended in 14.5-seconds at 95 miles-per-hour. We really appreciate a well-tuned 6-speed in this world of overactive 8 and 10 speed automatics.

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While there was definitely some understeer to manage in our handling course, the 3 turned in quickly and provided real, sporting feedback through our cone course. I-Activ AWD features G-Vectoring Control Plus, which uses both engine torque vectoring as well as selective braking to minimize body roll, and preserve the lively feel we’ve come to expect from Mazda. In panic braking runs, the pedal was soft, but that kept ABS pulsing to a minimum; and the results were great, as we averaged a very short 106-feet from 60, with minimal nose dive and stable, straight stops.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings for an all-wheel drive Turbo are 23-City, 31-Highway, and 26-Combined; we averaged a good 28.4 miles-per-gallon of Regular.

Obviously by eliminating the previous base engine, prices have taken a jump for ’23, but so has everything else. Still they remain more than reasonable. The base S now starts at $26,855, with the top Turbo Premium Plus at $37,815, with many options in between. And sedan prices are even more sensible, starting at $23,715.

Like most brands, Mazda seems to be going all-in on SUVs; as the 3 is the last family sedan and hatchback in their lineup. And it would be a real shame if that were to change. As the 2023 Mazda3, the hatchback in particular, is just about the perfect car, offering utility vehicles levels of practicality along with better than average luxury, plus handling performance that few crossovers can match. So, long live the Mazda3!


As Tested

  • Engine: 2.5-liter Turbo-4
  • Horsepower: 227 | 250
  • 0-60 mph: 6.0 seconds
  • 60-0 Braking: 106 feet (avg)
  • MW Fuel Economy: 28.4 MPG (Regular)
  • Transmission: 6-speed auto
  • Torque: 310 lb-ft. | 320 lb-ft
  • 1/4 Mile: 14.5-seconds at 95 mph
  • EPA: 23-City / 31-Highway / 26-Combined