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March 5, 2019

Review: 2019 Kia Soluto 1.4 EX M/T

Googling the word, “Soluto” reveals that it comes from the Latin, “solutus,” which translates to “be free.” Targeted at first time car buyers, the Kia Soluto then becomes so aptly named. After all, there’s no better way to escape Manila’s inept public transportation than being in the comfort and security of a brand-new car. Of course, there’s still the subject of navigating through hellish traffic, but doing it in the luxury of your very own personal space sounds like a welcome respite for a lot of wary workers.

It’s common knowledge that automakers tend of think less of the typical sub-B segment car buyer. After all, coming from a life of driving a second-hand car or taking the public transportation, they think that by offering something with four wheels, an engine, and zero kilometers on the odometer, they’ve done enough to satisfy this lot. As a result, you get cars that are extremely unrefined, terrible to drive, and worse to own; in short, they make some people regret getting a brand-new car in the first place.

Well, not with the revitalized Kia. Understanding that this segment, the first-time car buyer, is what makes or breaks a brand experience, they’ve put careful thought into what buyers would want in a car, and what would elicit proud ownership moments. Thus, here comes the 2019 Kia Soluto—a car that’s a sub-B segment car only in price, but a class-above in everything else.

Understanding that aesthetics plays a key role, the Soluto, at the very least, looks good; offering a sense of gravitas unmatched by any other in its price range. Admittedly, the front-end does look a bit fussy, but at least Kia’s attempts to create a visual impact have worked out handsomely here. The use of high-gloss black plastics and dollops of chrome make it escape the quintessential “med rep look” so common in this class. Other great detailing includes the blacked-out B-pillar (again, a rarity in this class), and on the EX model, 14-inch alloy wheels. Oh, and it has the complete set of electrical bits too from the front and rear fog lamps to mirror-mounted signal indicators.

Moving on, the fit and finish is pretty impressive. Not only do all the panels match perfectly, but the panel gaps are consistent, and the finishing level is quite superb, especially in this shade of Marcato Red, the Soluto’s image color. Then, pull the door handles and there’s some surprising heft here. There’s none of the tinny-sounding doors so prevalent in this vehicle class.

Like its exterior, the Soluto’s interior manages to exude a class-above feel. There’s not an ounce of soft-touch plastics in here (and that’s to be expected), but at least almost everything’s been put together well. Most of the switchgear does the job, maybe except for the lighting and wiper stalks which are finished in unconvincing shiny bits of plastic. The seats, too are covered not in leather or even in fabric, but in leatherette. This makes for an easier upkeep, but because they’re not breathable, it can make every ride a potentially sweaty one. Oh, and they can tax the air conditioner on hotter days.

Still, at least the interior is well put together and arranged in a way that it doesn’t feel cheap. The overall design is clean and straight-forward, reminiscent of other Kia models. The controls are laid out in a horizontal manner with the gauges and infotainment system at the upper, and the climate controls on the lower tier. The instrument cluster itself is highly-legible with clear numerals and, amazingly enough, a multi-function trip computer is nestled between the tach- and speedometers. Without a doubt, the coup de grâce is the 7-inch infotainment system. It does tend of wash out in direct sunlight, but at least it’s full-featured even having Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Oh, and the tunes get pumped through a 6-speaker system, too.

With no center console of speak of, the Soluto’s front seat cushions are pretty wide, accommodating a wide range of body types. There’s an armrest for the driver too, but in the manual transmission guise, it’s somewhat useless. Even more surprising is that the rear occupants here are treated just as well as those in front. The seat cushion itself is long and supportive, reaching almost to the end of the hips. They’re also molded in a way that they feel like individual buckets. The headrests may not look particularly cushy in photos, but they’re actually of the right height and size. Sadly, they passed on the chance of providing a middle headrest even if there are 3-point seatbelts for all at the back.

Fitted with a 6-way manual adjustable driver’s seat and a tilt-adjustable steering column, finding a comfy driving position is fairly easy. However, it must be said though that the best one in the Soluto is with the seatback more laid down and the seat cushion set more forward than usual. This, along with the power window switches located below the air conditioning controls, are two things that take getting used to (it doesn’t help that the said switches aren’t lit so good luck using them at night).

On to the driving experience, the Soluto avoids the small car trope. It’s refined with impressive levels of NVH. With its generous wheelbase, it glides through potholes well, absorbing even the bigger ones with ease. It’s softly sprung, so it does tend to easily tip during provocative maneuvers, but at least it feels danceable through city streets. The steering is light too, making one-finger three-pointed turns possible. And with the generous greenhouse and stubby nose, positioning it through traffic and tight confines are easy. At higher speeds, the steering does tighten up, but the suspension remains wallowy requiring constant corrections to keep it pointed straight.

With a 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, the 95-horsepower Soluto is quick on its feet. Power delivery feels immediate and compared to what others offer in this price segment, is more than enough to pass muster. However, the 5-speed manual does have short gearing and that means rowing through the gearbox repeatedly even at city speeds. Aside from the clutch’s high engagement, the pedal effort is light and the shifter action is precise. There’s even a gear shift indicator in the multifunction display, telling drivers the most economical way to drive. Religiously followed, it musters 9.5 km/L (average speed 15 km/h).

After all’s said and done, it’s obvious that Kia’s done their homework with the 2019 Soluto. While it’s not perfect, it more than lives up to its name since it’s unbound of what expects in a sub-P 700,000 passenger car. Not only are its foundations grounded on solid mechanicals, but it’s also well-finished and well-equipped as well. With that, it makes for a convincing case of what a first new car should be. One that doesn’t just offer the freedom of mobility for its owner, but pride as well.

2019 Kia Soluto EX M/T
Ownership 2019 Kia Soluto 1.4 EX M/T
Year Introduced 2019
Vehicle Classification Sub-compact Sedan
Warranty 5 years / 160,000 kilometers
The Basics
Body Type 4-door sedan
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.4
Aspiration Normally Aspirated
Fuel Delivery EFI
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 95 @ 6,000
Nm @ rpm 132 @ 4,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission 5 MT
Cruise Control No
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 9.59 km/L @ 15 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,300
Width (mm) 1,700
Height (mm) 1,460
Wheelbase (mm) 2,570
Curb Weight (kg) 1,036
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension V-Beam Coupled Torsion Beam
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Drum
Tires Nexen Npriz AH8 175/70 R 14 T (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 2
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control No
Parking Sensors Yes, Rear with Camera
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features No
Exterior Features
Headlights Halogen
Fog Lamps Yes, Front & Rear
Auto Lights No
Rain-sensing Wipers No
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) Manual, 6-way
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Manual 4-way
Seating Surface Leatherette
Folding Rear Seat No
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes
Proximity Key No
Climate Control Manual
Audio System Stereo
Apple CarPlay
Android Auto
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes


  1. This is a much better car to buy rather than the Reina since it has steering wheel controls and touch screen HU with Apple Car Play and Android Auto

    1. If, by "much better car", you mean better value for money, then yes, I agree with you. However, I can also see how many would prefer just a basic car like the Reina if they don't really use the extra tech.

  2. Obviously....but not everyone will spend that extra for gadgets or features they wont probably use or appreciate..(e.g. My non.techie mom)

  3. Not bad for sub-700k. This will be a good car for first time car buyers.

  4. Hi Sir Uly, would you recommend this car over the new Vios XE CVT?

    1. if you have kids or travel a lot with your family i think the vios xe is the better choice because of the 7 airbags.

  5. The fuel consumption is not good only 9km /lt.soluto is 1.4 lt.engine only it consume much to other cars fuel consumption 18 to 21km / there any remedy for this.

  6. Read again. The consumption stated was for 15km/hr which most likely means thats for "city driving". Thats not bad and im sure mure fuel is saved for highway speeds.

  7. Replies
    1. I would suggest not buy this car, the AC is sucks!


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