With its funky styling and spunky four-cylinder power, the compact Kia Soul is aimed at mainstream economy-car shoppers who want something different. Indeed, the boxy Kia hatchback is avant garde in its approach, boasting a swept-back exterior design with sporty angles and a neat cabin filled with distinctive shapes and vibrant colors. It gives Kia an injection of, well, soul to complement its well-earned reputation for competence and value.
Current Kia Soul
Introduced for 2014, the second-generation Kia Soul comes in three trim levels: base, + and !.
The base Soul gets a 1.6-liter four-cylinder with 130 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission is standard (including a hill-start assist function), and a six-speed automatic is optional.
Soul+ and ! models have a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 164 hp and it comes only with the six-speed automatic. EPA combined fuel economy estimates range from 26-27 mpg, the latter with the optional Eco package.
The base Soul's standard features include 16-inch steel wheels, full power accessories, air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth phone connectivity and an audio system with a CD player, satellite radio and an iPod/USB interface. The Soul+ adds 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control and front and rear center armrests. The Soul! features 18-inch wheels, body-colored bumpers, LED daytime running lights, power-folding side mirrors, a power driver seat and the Uvo eServices package (infotainment interface with voice control, Bluetooth audio connectivity, streaming Internet radio capability, a rearview camera and automatic headlights). Option highlights include a panoramic sunroof, automatic climate control, a navigation system, an upgraded audio system, keyless ignition and entry, leather upholstery and heated front and rear seats.
In reviews, we've been impressed with the Soul's interior materials' quality, user-friendly high-tech features and generous passenger and cargo space. Underway, the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is satisfyingly quick whether bopping around town or merging onto a highway. The automatic transmission is on point with its well-timed and swift gearchanges. We haven't sampled the smaller engine but assume most buyers would be happier with the equally fuel-efficient but gutsier 2.0-liter mill. The Soul handles curvy roads well, thanks to its well-weighted, precise steering and composed attitude. Unfortunately, the Soul's boxy shape results in excessive wind noise at highway speeds, and the Soul! model has a somewhat rough ride due to its larger wheels and tires.
Read the most recent 2015 Kia Soul review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Kia Soul page.