Review: KIA Soul (2014 – 2018)
Practical family car. High quality and attractive cabin. Easy to drive. Practical and reasonably spacious. Steers and handles decently on 17-inch wheels. Outstandingly reliable.
Looks aren't universally popular. Emissions and economy far from best in class. 18-inch wheels wreck the ride.
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KIA Soul (2014 – 2018): At A Glance
While this second generation Kia Soul may look similar to the original model, it’s actually much improved under the skin with significantly better steering, ride and handling. It's also more than just style over substance. Get past the rather quirky and boxy appearance and you'll find a family car that is impressively refined with a very practical and upmarket cabin.
The Soul is easily big enough for a family of five and features good quality materials along with a stylish dashboard layout. Standard equipment levels are generous and all cars get DAB radio and air conditioning. There are plenty of customisation options too, with colour contrasting roof choices and a broad selection of alloy wheel designs.
Thanks to the tall, upright cabin there is a huge amount of headroom even for taller passengers, plus it’s very easy to get in and out of from both the front and back rows of seats. Unfortunately the generous passenger compartment means the boot space suffers a little - but it’s still a reasonable size and more than adequate for everyday use.
There are two engines - a 1.6-litre petrol and a 1.6-litre diesel, the latter of which is available with a six-speed torque converter automatic transmission. The diesel offers lower running costs thanks to its economy of 58.9mpg and 125g/km CO2 emissions. It also offers a decent amount of torque so it's the best one to go for unless you’re a low mileage driver. That said, it lags behind some key rivals when it comes to economy and emissions – the Renault Captur, Peugeot 2008 and Skoda Yeti are better on this front.
If you are a keen driver, you will also find the Yeti better to drive on a winding road. There is still a lot to like about the Soul, though. It's reasonably well priced, well equipped, impressively built and offers more cabin space than the usual small crossover model.
What does a KIA Soul (2014 – 2018) cost?
KIA Soul (2014 – 2018): What's It Like Inside?
The upright SUV-styling of the exterior gives the Soul an impressively spacious interior, with easily enough space for a family of five. Headroom and legroom are excellent in both the front and back rows. That does, however, have an effect the amount of rear loadspace, but at 351 litres it’s still a good size, plus it can be expanded to 1367 litres by folding the rear seats.
The load area is a good shape with a very wide opening and an almost flat load deck, plus there's an underfloor storage area for keeping odds and ends. The load lip is quite high which is hard work if you have to lift heavy items in and out. It will also pose problems for dog owners with older or smaller dogs.
On the plus side, compared to the old Soul the interior is a much more upmarket and inviting place, with a stylish layout and good quality materials, including a generous helping of soft-touch plastic on the door tops and dashboard.
Kia has added some unique touches too, like tweeter speakers integrated within the air vents. The interior colours are designed to complement the exterior finish, so you’ll get a brown dashboard if you pick the coffee-brown exterior paintwork. You also get illuminated speaker surrounds if you go for a model with the excellent Infinity audio system.
Standard equipment is good with all models getting DAB radio and air conditioning. Moving up to mid-spec models adds some nice extras like alloy wheels, an impressive Infinity audio system and navigation. Options include advanced technologies like lane keep assist and automatic parking, along with a huge panoramic sunroof that makes the cabin feel even more open and airy.
Standard equipment from launch (April 2014):
Start models come with 16-inch steel wheels, cloth upholstery, electric windows, DAB radio and air conditioning.
Connect trim adds 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and a reversing camera.
Connect Plus is as Connect trim, but with the addition of satellite navigation and an Infinity audio system.
Mixx models come with 18-inch alloy wheels, two-tone paintwork and a styling pack.
Maxx models gain leather upholstery, a panoramic glass roof, push button start and keyless entry.
Child seats that fit a KIA Soul (2014 – 2018)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the KIA Soul (2014 – 2018) like to drive?
- Engines range from 1.6 CRDi Automatic to 1.6T GDi Automatic
- Readers report Real MPG to be between 30–54 mpg
Beneath the tall and boxy exterior styling, the Soul is based on the same platform as the Kia Cee’d. That’s good news as it means the Soul is far more competent than its predecessor, with better road holding and improved ride quality.
The engine range is simple, with a choice of two 1.6-litre engines – one petrol and one diesel. The petrol engine produces 132PS and 161Nm of torque, which makes for a 0-62mph sprint time of 11 seconds. That’s a little swifter than the 11.2 seconds of the 128PS diesel engine, but the diesel has more torque at 260Nm, making it more flexible and useable out of town.
Whichever engine you go for, you’ll get a smooth six-speed manual transmission as standard. It’s a very easy gearbox to get along with thanks to a light change action. If you need an automatic transmission then you’ll have to go for the diesel, which is offered with an impressive six-speed dual clutch gearbox.
The Soul is a relaxed car on the road, riding over rippled and rough road surfaces comfortably. There’s not much noise from the suspension most of the time – but larger wheels do have an adverse effect on ride quality, particularly on poor roads with noticeable thumping over cracks and potholes.
The steering settings can be changed between normal, sport and eco modes, but the standard setting is good enough with a nicely weighted and accurate feel. Corners can be taken with confidence, but the car does feel a little out of its comfort zone on a twisting route with lots of sudden direction changes. This is made worse by the seats which although very comfortable, don’t offer much in the way of lateral support.
It’s good news for those who drive in town or on the motorway though, where you don't feel hemmed in by bulky side bolsters. Kia has worked hard to improve refinement over the previous generation Soul and it really shows – there is barely any wind, road or engine noise until you get up to around 70mph, at which point only wind noise becomes noticeable, but unobtrusive.
|1.6 CRDi||47–59 mpg||10.8–11.8 s||128–158 g/km|
|1.6 CRDi Automatic||47–57 mpg||10.7–11.8 s||135–158 g/km|
|1.6 GDi||39–44 mpg||10.6 s||153–170 g/km|
|1.6T GDi Automatic||41 mpg||-||156 g/km|
Real MPG average for a KIA Soul (2014 – 2018)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
What have we been asked about the KIA Soul (2014 – 2018)?
Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.
I am about to get my Kia serviced - if I do not use a main dealer will this cancel warranty?
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