Category Archives: Quick Overview

Quick Overview: 2014 Kia Soul


Kia’s funky box-on-wheels has received complete redesign for 2014 and despite the updates many aspects of the original Kia Soul remain. Styling is certainly familiar due to the boxy profile, black a-pillars, large rear tail lights, and side glass that becomes progressively smaller towards the rear of the car. More angular headlights, a thinner upper grill,  larger lower grill, and a more pronounced front bumper are some of the changes to the front end. The rear of the car gets black accents around the tail lights and hatch creating a truly unique look. Although new and improved, the new Soul keeps the styling elements that made the car a hit in the first place. The interior is also well done thanks to the combination of practicality and design. The new cabin features a conventional single instrument pod, a bulging center stack, redesigned air vents, and a sportier, more substantial feeling steering wheel. Some of the hard, cheap-feeling plastics remain, although they are improved from the previous model. Seats are comfortable, yet a bit firm. Head room is plentiful, and in the rear seat there is a sizable amount of leg room. Cargo space however is lacking at 18.8 cubic feet with the rear seats up, and 49.5 cubic feet with the seats folded down. Cargo space is increased to a reasonable 24.2 cubic feet with the seats up, and 61.3 cubic feet with them down when the cargo tray is not present. Engines are carried over from last year. The 1.6 liter four-cylinder produces 130 horsepower and 118 pounds-feet of torque, while the 2.0 liter makes 164 horsepower and 151 pounds-feet of torque. The 1.6 can be mated to a six-speed manual, or six-speed automatic. The 2.0 liter comes six-speed automatic. The base Soul starts at $14,700 and comes with the 1.6 liter engine, Bluetooth, and Sirius satellite Radio. The midrange + (plus) adds alloy wheels, cruise control, and the 2.0 liter engine and is priced at $18,200. The top of the line Soul, the ! (Exclaim), comes with LED tail lights and LED headlight accents, power folding mirrors, and UVO eServices. The Soul, when equipped with the 1.6 liter four-cylinder and manual transmission, is able to achieve 24 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. These numbers do not change when the car is equipped with the automatic transmission. The 2.0 liter engine allows the Soul to get 23 mpg in the city, and 31 mpg on the highway.



Quick Overview: 2014 Fiat 500L

Fiat 500L Trekking shown

Fiat’s second entry into the U.S market since their recent comeback sure looks promising. On paper, thanks to its unique looks, fuel-efficient engine and spacious, versatile interior, Fiat’s latest iteration of the beloved 500 should be a hit. If only it was also promising in the real world. Outside, the 500L looks like a bloated 500, and is a rather poor adaptation of the 500’s classic styling. However, it is unique and greatly stands out among some of its bland and boring CUV competitors. The front end is familiar, with two elliptical headlights, and turn signals below. Between the headlights is a chrome strip, with the Fiat logo residing at the center. The front fascia has a stepped look to it, and below the turn signals, is a thin grill. At the bottom of the bumper is a large, rounded, rectangular grill in which a black, plastic bar runs across. The fog lamps sit just underneath. The side profile is certainly different, with large windows all around, including front and rear quarter windows, nearly eliminating visibility issues. Toward the bottom of the doors is a chrome strip, running along the side between the pronounced fenders. The rear features tail lights that are elliptical in shape, and a rear bumper with a protective black plastic insert. The interior is extremely airy and spacious. Headroom seems so plentiful, you may be able to wear a sombrero in the little Fiat, leg room is also generous in both the front and back. Seats are very comfortable and supportive. Interior appearance is also another strong point. Everything in the interior is of a rounded shape, including a large body colored insert that mimics that of the regular 500. Controls are easy to reach, and the interior has a generally ergonomic layout. In the back is a respectable 23.1 cubic feet of cargo space, more than enough for the daily shopping expedition. Unfortunately, the interior of the 500L also features the same style gauge cluster as its smaller sibling, where the gauges sit on top of each other, making them difficult to read. The quality of the interior plastics is appalling, the dashboard and door panels feel cheap and hard. There are only a few areas where the plastics and craftsmanship of the interior are satisfactory. Under the hood is a 1.4 liter MultiAir turbo charged four cylinder, putting out 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. This engine is also found in the 500 Abarth and the Dodge Dart. Acceleration to 60 comes in 9.1 seconds, and cornering has been said to be sporty and enthusiastic. Fuel mileage is very good, at 24 mpg city, and 33 mpg highway. Equipped with the manual transmission, the car achieves 25 mpg city. Pricing is an area, besides interior quality, where the Fiat is a letdown. The base Pop starts at $19,900, and it only comes with a six speed manual.  However, it does come equipped with a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, and heated rear view mirrors. The next model is the $20,195 Easy, which adds features such as aluminum wheels and a six speed automatic. Next is the Trekking model, which features a unique front and rear fascia and body side cladding, supposedly creating a rugged look. It starts at $21,195. The top of the line Lounge model, priced at $24,195, adds chrome body accenting and an optional sunroof among other features. The Fiat 500L does not make as much sense to purchase as certain competitors. Although cheaper than the Mini Countryman, it does not have the value pricing that competition such as the Kia Soul and Scion Xb posses.