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First Drive: 2014 Kia Soul

Subtle changes yield big improvements.

by on Oct.07, 2013

Kia's 2014 Soul remake delivers subtle visual tweaks but more significant interior changes and revisions to drive dynamics.

Few cars have done a better job of putting a relatively unknown brand on the radar for a broad swath of American car buyers.  The 2009 Kia Soul and the hip-hop hamsters who became its spokes, er, rodents have carved out a unique and enviable niche in the market. So, with the launch of the 2014 Soul, Kia faces both risk and opportunity.

Anyone who has watched TV or gone to the cinema in recent weeks probably knows the slimmed-down “Hamstars” are back, their latest, catchy spot, backed by Lady Gaga vocals, meant to draw attention to the launch of the updated urban crossover.  Their help is needed. The 2014 Kia Soul’s distinctive design undergoes evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, changes that might otherwise be missed by most buyers.

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That said, Kia’s priority was coming up with a more comfortable CUV that resolves some of the earlier model’s issues with driving dynamics and refinement. Our experience during a Minneapolis driving event suggests the Koreans have largely succeeded.


Kia’s Hamsters Are Back

And this time they’re dancing to the Soul beat.

by on Aug.26, 2011

Kia's Hamstars are back -- and this time amateur video makers can get into the act.

Kia’s hip-hop hamsters are back and showing again that they’ve got soul.  Make that Soul, with the Korean maker ready to roll out an updated version of its boxy crossover.

The original, 2010 campaign for the Kia Soul introduced the animated stars and created perhaps more of a sensation for the commercial than for the car itself, though the crossover has proven itself a solid seller and a real halo product for the fast-growing brand.

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First shown driving amidst a wasteland of me-too automobiles, the “Hamstars,” as Kia calls them, returned to rap in a second campaign last year.  Now, they’re back and dancing to the sounds of “Party Rock,” the hit by electro-pop band LMFAO in a 60-second spot that somehow combines a music video with a setting that might have come from the popular videogame Halo.