Used 2015 Kia Soul Review

The 2015 Kia Soul's funky styling and fun-to-drive attitude make it great for city commutes, and its hatchback versatility makes it practical as well.




what's new

For 2015, both the base and + trim level Kia Soul models are available with the Uvo eServices package, which now includes a rearview camera and telematics features like geo-fencing, curfew alert and speed alert. There is also a new "Umber" interior package with upgraded leather upholstery.

vehicle overview

Take a look at the 2015 Kia Soul and you might think that this car not all that easy to categorize. Is it a hatchback? A wagon? Some sort of tiny SUV? All of the above? Whatever you may decide on, know that the Soul's assets appeal to both the head and the heart.

On the practical side, the Soul offers a generous array of amenities, both standard and optional. The Soul's cabin is a comfortable and user-friendly environment, with roomy accommodations and intuitive controls. Kia's Soul will be a friendly companion for errand running, too, as its boxy shape provides a surprising amount of luggage and cargo space. The Soul's low price also means this Kia offers lots of value, and there's also a lengthy warranty to provide peace of mind.

Those with less practical priorities for their vehicle will still likely be drawn to the car's distinctive-looking sheet metal, which presents an upbeat alternative to the Soul's more generic-looking competition. This is certainly true if you compare it to traditional subcompact cars like the 2015 Ford Fiesta or Chevrolet Sonic. The Soul is also a funky alternative to compact hatchbacks like the 2015 Mazda 3 or a budget-friendly substitute for smaller SUVs such as Kia's own Sportage or the Nissan Juke. Compared to the Scion xB, the Soul strikes us as the fresher and more desirable vehicle.

In a way, this spectrum of possible competitors speaks to the versatility and undeniable charm of the Edmunds "B" rated Kia Soul. Regardless of what you might compare it to, it's a solid pick for shoppers seeking a budget-friendly runabout brimming with spaciousness, value and, perhaps most importantly, personality.

trim levels & features

The 2015 Kia Soul has four doors and seating for five. It's available in three trim levels: base, + and ! (the latter two trims are also known as Plus and Exclaim).

The base model's standard equipment includes 16-inch steel wheels, roof rack mounting points, rear privacy glass, full power accessories, three-mode driver-selectable steering settings, air-conditioning, a height-adjustable driver seat, cloth upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel (with audio controls), a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface. Keyless entry and cruise control are optional.

The Soul+ adds a more powerful engine, 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, cruise control, a 12-volt power outlet in the cargo area, a cargo cover, upgraded cloth upholstery, a fold-down rear-seat armrest and a front seat center armrest with storage.

Available on the base and Soul+, the Uvo eServices package adds automatic headlights, foglights (base only) and a rearview camera, along with the Uvo infotainment interface that features geo-fencing, speed alert, voice control and streaming Internet radio capability.

When equipped with Uvo eServices, the Soul+ is eligible for a pair of packages. The Audio package adds automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob, simulated leather cabin trim, piano-black and satin-metallic interior accents, a navigation system, an 8-inch touchscreen display, HD radio and an upgraded Infinity audio system with speaker lights and a subwoofer. The Primo package (requires the Audio package) adds a panoramic sunroof (eliminating the Soul's standard roof rack mounting points), foglights, keyless ignition and entry, leather upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat with two-way power lumbar support, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear outboard seats, LED interior lighting and a heated steering wheel.

An Eco package, available separately on the Soul+, adds fuel-saving features like an automatic stop-start system and low-rolling-resistance 16-inch tires.

The top-of-the-line Soul! builds upon the + model's standard equipment and the Uvo eServices package, then adds 18-inch wheels, body-colored fascia accents and bumpers, LED daytime running lights, power-folding side mirrors with integrated LED turn signal indicators, an eight-way power driver seat with two-way power lumbar support, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, further upgraded cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob, simulated leather cabin trim and chrome interior accents.

The Soul!'s Sun and Sound package provides a panoramic sunroof, automatic climate control, LED interior lighting, the navigation system, 8-inch touchscreen display, HD radio and the upgraded Infinity audio system. The Whole Shebang package (requires Sun and Sound package) adds xenon headlights (low beams only), keyless ignition and entry, an upgraded instrument panel, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats. The Umber package adds special leather upholstery.

performance & mpg

The front-wheel-drive 2015 Kia Soul is offered with two different engines. The base Soul gets a 1.6-liter four-cylinder with 130 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard (including a hill-start assist function) and a six-speed automatic is optional. The EPA's estimated fuel economy for the base Soul comes in at 26 mpg combined (24 city/30 highway) with either transmission.

Soul+ and ! models have a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that puts out a healthy 164 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic is the only available transmission. Fuel economy with the 2.0-liter engine is an EPA-estimated 26 mpg combined (23/31). Soul+ models with the Eco package fare slightly better, earning 27 mpg combined (24/31). On our Edmunds driving evaluation route, a Soul! returned 27.9 mpg, which is much lower than other compact cars we've tested and actually on par with compact SUVs.

In Edmunds performance testing, a Soul! went from zero to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds, which is average for a small wagon or hatchback with an upgraded engine.

safety

Standard safety equipment for all 2015 Kia Soul models includes four-wheel antilock disc brakes, hill-start assist, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. A rearview camera is standard on the Soul! and included on the other trims with the optional Uvo eServices package.

In Edmunds brake testing, the Soul came to a stop from 60 mph in 110 feet. While this is a very short distance for the segment, it's noteworthy that our Soul! test car had large, 18-inch tires. Kia Souls with smaller tires may not perform the same.

In government crash tests, the Soul received a top five-star rating overall, with five stars for total frontal impact safety and total side-impact crash safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Soul its highest possible rating of "Good" in its moderate-overlap and small-overlap frontal-offset impact tests. The Soul also earned a "Good" score for the side-impact, roof-strength and head restraints and seats (whiplash protection) tests.

driving

With respectable power on tap from the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, the 2015 Kia Soul is enjoyable around town and feels satisfyingly quick when merging onto a highway. The engine gets a bit raspy sounding during hard acceleration, but the automatic transmission shifts smartly and does a good job of holding gears on uphill grades to help the car maintain a consistent speed. We've yet to drive the 1.6-liter base Soul, but we think most buyers will be happier with the gutsier 2.0-liter, especially since it's just as fuel-efficient.

Although the Soul doesn't feel especially sporty, it handles better than you might expect. The steering has a reassuring weightiness to its effort level at highway speeds, and it feels precise when you're driving around turns. The brake pedal has a reassuringly firm feel, too. Unfortunately, the Soul! model loses some of its appeal on long highway trips. Its large wheels and tires contribute to a rough ride, even on relatively smooth pavement. In addition, the Soul's boxy shape results in excessive wind noise at highway speeds.

interior

With its modern look and expressive styling details, the 2015 Kia Soul's cabin offers a nice balance between form and function. Quality materials make the interior feel more refined than you might expect for a car in this price range.

Gauges and controls are logically located and intuitive to use, and using the Uvo interface to control your smartphone is a snap. In addition to upgrading the sound quality, the optional Infinity audio system includes illuminated trim rings for the speakers that flash to the beat of your music. It's a little gimmicky, but we have a feeling some Soul buyers will find it kind of fun.

One of the benefits of the Soul's boxy design is abundant head- and legroom, even in the backseat. Behind the rear seatbacks you'll find 19 cubic feet of cargo room, which grows to 61 cubic feet with both sections of the 60/40-split rear seatbacks folded down. This is greater than compact wagons and on par with many smaller SUVs. Note that the Scion xB is even more spacious, however.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.