You’ve probably seen a large number of them on the roads and highways. They’re boxy, cute, economical and spacious. Yes, Kia’s Soul hatchback possesses all these traits and then some.
The funky looking Soul has been updated for 2015 with the addition of a rearview camera, geo-fencing, curfew and speed alerts, Uvo eServices and a new leather interior package.
In its five-year existence, the Soul has been one of Kia’s best selling models. Offered in base, Soul + and top-line Soul! (the latter two are better known as Plus and Exclaim that was tested).
The Exclaim comes with 18-inch wheels and a 2.0L, 164-hp (151 lb/ft of torque) four-cylinder engine. The base model comes standard with 16-inch wheels and a 1.6L, 130-hp (118 lb/ft of torque) four- cylinder. Most buyers will likely opt for the larger 2.0L engine that is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with Eco system that goes into sleep mode to conserve fuel when idling at a stoplight. The 2.0L combination carries EPA mileage estimates of 23 city, 31-highway.
Performance wise, the 2.0L engine has lots of spunk from a standing stop to highway passing maneuvers. On steep hills with two adults aboard, the transmission will quickly downshift to maintain its speed. But it’s still energetic and in fact has been 0-60 tested at 8.7 seconds.
Upon slipping into the spacious cockpit, you’ll notice quality materials like perforated leather seats, the fronts of which are heated and cooled, as is the glove box. All operating controls are easy to use and logically placed without any complicated mouse controls. The entire vertical stack and instrumentation cluster represents sensible function and refinement for a car in this class. And this includes a large 8-inch LCD screen for audio, GPS nav and rearview camera functions. The heated back seat offers ample leg and headroom and crossover type step-in height for easy ingress/egress. Kia thankfully used a low profile rear seat headrest that allows an semi unobstructed view rearward.
One item that could be done without though was the huge 45×29-inch sunroof. But it comes standard with the Sun & Sound Package ($2,600).
Despite its size, the Soul has an amazing amount of cargo space. With the back seats up there’s 19 cubic feet of space, or more understandably, it measures 26 inches deep, 39.5 wide and 30.5 high. Fold the 60/40 seat backs and the size grows to 61 cubic feet or 54 inches of depth. There’s also a convenient cargo underfloor compartment to stow small items out of sight.
Handling wise, and although it looks boxy, the Soul feels planted on sharp turns taken at speed. Its steering has decent road feel and Soul is easy to park. Soul’s ride is on the firm side as it’s shod with 18-inch Kumho tires, a size not often used on a car in this class. Actually, the only way the Soul could be better is if AWD was available as an option.
Soul is attractively priced until you start adding options. Unfortunately, Kia packages preferred items in a Sun & Sound package that includes the sunroof and such niceties as automatic climate control. To get leather seating, heated/ventilated seats, heated outboard rear seats, heated steering wheel and HID low beam headlights you have to take the “Whole Shebang” package ($2,500) that adds such non-essentials as push button start, speaker lights and more. Together, the two optional packages and delivery ($800) takes Soul’s base price from $20,700 to $26,715. But this also includes a long list of standard goodies like fog lights, satellite radio, tire pressure monitoring, heated power folding outside mirrors, Bluetooth wireless, auto-on/off headlights and much more. It’s still an affordable price even with all the standard content and extra cost options.
The Soul received a top five star overall government crash safety rating, plus five for frontal impact and side impact. The Institute for Highway Safety also awarded it their highest “Good” rating.
Lastly, Kia’s generous 10/100K Limited Powertrain Warranty, 5/60K Limited Basic Warranty and 5/60K Roadside Assistance, adds to the attractiveness of buying a Soul.
It should be noted that 2014, 2015 and just released 2016 Soul’s and Soul EVs are on a recall for a steering problem. The problem is in the adhesive used to attach the Soul’s steering pinion gear to the steering gear assembly, according to the NHTSA. The adhesive, they claim, is not strong enough to hold the two components together and may separate. To date, Kia has only received five complaints with no accidents or injuries associated with it.
Upon receiving a notice from Kia, owners should take their car to a Kia dealer and a replacement will take place. Questions on this can be answered by calling Kia customer service at 800-333-4542 and ask about recall SC125.