Kia Soul Second Generation (2013-present): Review, Problems, Specs

Kia has refined the formula for the second-generation Soul, a model one can describe as a small hatchback, minivan, and crossover at the same time. The Soul is available with an all-electric powertrain for the first time. It still doesn't offer all-wheel drive but retains the funky styling and spacious cabin that made its predecessor a success. The Soul is an urban commuter that combines style with practicality.


PROS & CONS

Pros

Strong Points

  • Funky, Distinctive Styling
  • Roomy Cabin
  • Quiet Diesel (In Europe)

Recommended Versions

  • 1.6 Gdi

Cons

Weak Points

  • Average Fuel Economy
  • Below-Average Trunk Volume
  • Rather Firm Ride

Stay Away From

  • Optional 18-Inch Wheels

Attention

Known Problems & Recalls

  • Certain 2014-2016 Kia Soul And Soul Ev Models Were Recalled In November 2015 To Replace The Pinion Plug That Secures The Pinion Gear On The Steering And Install A Set Bolt For Additional Reinforcement.
  • Kia Recalled Certain 2014-2015 Kia Soul And Soul Ev Models In March 2015 To Add A Supporting Rubber Underneath The Accelerator Pedal Stopper To Prevent It From Bending And Fracturing.
  • Some 2014 Kia Soul Vehicles Were Recalled In June 2014 To Replace The Steering Pinion Plug With A New One That Has Properly Applied Thread-Locking Adhesive.

CAR DETAILS

Drive

Powertrain

Kia offers the Soul with two gasoline engines and an EV version in the United States. The "Base" trim comes with a standard 1.6-liter four-cylinder unit rated at 130 hp while the "+" and "!" grades offer a 2.0-liter four-pot with 164 hp. The Soul EV features an electric motor that produces 109 hp. In Europe, Kia also offers customers the possibility to get a 1.6-liter CRDi diesel engine rated at 126 hp that beats the gasoline models' fuel economy. The base 1.6-liter gasoline engine is the ideal choice because the 2.0-liter engine and the diesel unit do not justify their premium prices. The Soul EV is a decent competitor for the Nissan Leaf, but its battery pack takes 13 hours to charge on a domestic plug.

Handling

Needless to say, the Soul is not a car for driving enthusiasts. Most reviewers rated the car's handling characteristics lower than the best subcompact crossovers. While body control is good for a car this tall, the Soul is not a sporty vehicle. Having said that, the boxy Kia feels precise around turns, and its steering has a reassuring weightiness at highway speeds. The naturally aspirated 1.6-liter gasoline engine has to be revved hard to deliver decent accelerations, so if that's what you're looking for the more powerful and torquey 2.0-liter unit is a better choice.

Safety

The second-generation Kia Soul is one of the safest cars in its class, with the IIHS giving it the "Top Safety Pick" rating. The Soul received "Good" ratings for small and moderate overlap front impacts, side impact, roof strength, and head restraints & seats. For front crash prevention, the model was given the "Basic" rating as it lacks low-speed and high-speed auto brake. The NHTSA also gave the Soul the top five-star rating, awarding five stars for frontal crash, five stars for lateral impact and four stars for rollover. In Europe, Euro NCAP assessed both the Soul and the Soul EV and gave four-star ratings to each one.


Interior

Comfort

If you want a Soul that offers a comfortable ride, you'd best avoid fitting it with the optional 18-inch alloy wheels. With the 16-inch standard wheels, the ride is comfortable, although some rivals are doing better in this respect. Ergonomically, finding a good driving position is easy for drivers of all sizes, while the controls are close to hand and intuitive to use. Visibility is good at the front due to the Soul's large windshield and thin A-pillars but suffers at the rear due to the small window and thick C-pillars.

Quality

The Kia Soul's cabin has a modern, youthful look, with the materials used being of a higher quality that one might expect from a car in this price range. The nice textured plastics and the funky looking dashboard are pleasant touches, but the level of quality is not nearing the premium area. Improved standard and optional equipment as well a greater range of personalizing touches help lift the quality feel compared to the previous generation model. Overall, the interior offers a good balance between form and function. The Kia Soul EV's cabin looks and feels even better.

Practicality

Interior room is probably the Soul's greatest asset. Thanks to the model's boxy shape, five passengers can travel in complete comfort as the vehicle offers plenty of headroom and legroom, even in the backseat. The trunk is average-sized for the class (19 cu-ft loaded up to the roof) but grows to 61 cu-ft with both 60/40-split rear seatbacks folded down. That's more than compact hatchbacks and on the same level with some SUVs. As for the Soul EV, legroom and headroom are slightly reduced in the back because the battery is positioned under the rear passenger area.

Infotainment

Kia's UVO eServices infotainment system with an 8-inch color touch screen, voice command navigation and HD radio is not available on the "Base" trim but is offered as an option on the "+" and "!" grades. The UVO eServices interface makes it easy to control your smartphone via the touch screen. The entry-level model doesn't even get the 4.3-inch color touch screen audio display as standard – it's only an option. The upper grades get it as standard, though. The Kia Soul Base does get an AM/FM/MP3/SiriusXM Audio System.


Budget

Efficiency

Surprisingly, the most fuel-efficient Kia Soul version sold in the U.S. (besides the Soul EV) is the one equipped with the 2.0-liter gasoline engine, which returns 27 mpg combined with the standard automatic six-speed transmission. Models featuring the smaller 1.6-liter engine average 26 mpg (both with the standard six-speed manual and the optional six-speed auto). The Soul EV returns 105 MPGe combined and delivers a total range of 93 miles, according to EPA measurements. In Europe, the 1.6-liter diesel model averages 5 l/100 km.

Equipment

The base model's standard equipment includes 16-inch alloy wheels, full power accessories, rear privacy glass, air conditioning, a height-adjustable driver seat, cloth upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, driver-selectable steering settings, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity as well as a six-speaker sound system with satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB port. The Soul+ and Soul! grades add a more powerful 2.0-liter engine, larger 17-inch alloys, fog lights, keyless entry, cruise control, upgraded cloth upholstery, 4.3-inch touch screen, automatic headlights, a rearview camera, 8-way power driver seat, leather upholstery (Soul!) and more.

Acquisition

The entry-level 2016 Kia Soul is priced at $15,690 while the Soul+ and Soul! start at $19,190 and $21,090, respectively. If you want the Soul EV, get ready to spend $31,950 (before the $7,500 federal tax credit). These prices are slightly higher than some rivals'. For example, the base 2016 Nissan Versa Note starts at $14,180 while the 2016 Nissan Leaf (the Soul EV's competitor) is available from $29,010 (before the federal tax credit). Ultimately, it's the Soul's looks that could seal the deal as the technical packages are quite similar.