GO
#6

in Affordable Small Cars

MSRP: $14,900 - $20,500
Invoice: $14,595 - $19,521
MPG: 24 City / 30 Hwy
Find the best local price: submit
How the Best Price Program works »

Kia Soul Performance

Reviewers agree that the 2014 Kia Soul is a fun and capable daily driver, but they say even the optional 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine could use more power. The Soul’s fuel economy is poor for a hatchback. An upgraded suspension makes for a smooth and stable ride and the steering is competent, auto writers say.

  • "Overall, the new chassis feels like it can happily handle another 50 to 100 horsepower, and we'd love to see it get it." -- Autoblog
  • "Ride quality should improve with an upgraded suspension that benefits from new bushings and retuned shocks. Along with the more rigid body, three different steering settings promise improved handling and response." -- Edmunds
  • "Aim the Soul at a hard corner and the 235/45-18 tires bite for a moment before the nose pushes through them. Getting on the brakes regains composure, although this Kia is never happy doing hero work." -- Car and Driver
  • "Steering feedback aside, the Soul turns predictably and corners with a level of confidence unfamiliar in the old Soul, which tended to skitter when steered over less than pristine roadways." -- Kelley Blue Book

Acceleration and Power

The Kia Soul comes standard with a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine that makes 130 horsepower and a six-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic is optional, as is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 164 horsepower. The EPA reports that the base Soul gets 24/30 mpg city/highway with either transmission. These figures are low for the class. Those looking for better fuel economy should consider the Ford Focus, which gets 27/37 mpg city/highway.

Most reviewers test drove Soul models equipped with optional 2.0-liter engine, which they say is competent for daily use. However, critics say that uphill acceleration is lethargic, and that the Soul could use more power for passing on the highway.

  • "Though the road manners have improved, power has not, which can make passing on two-lane highways adventurous." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "Our advice? Unless you really want a manual, roll with the 2.0. Both powerplants are fine for around-town use (we only had the chance to drive the big'un), but the larger engine isn't much more than adequate on the mountain roads surrounding San Diego or even on meager steady inclines at freeway speeds, which coerces the automatic into hunting occasionally in an effort to extract a bit more motivation. If your drive plans include elevation changes or a heavy right foot, the smaller engine might not be up to the job." -- Autoblog
  • "The transmission glides through its gears unobtrusively, the engine pulls without making too much of a racket, and there are plenty of receptacles to contain everyday flotsam." -- Car and Driver
  • "We only drove the 2.0-liter and, while it's still no rocket ship, at maximum acceleration the engine did seem less strained and buzzy." -- Kelley Blue Book

Handling and Braking

Reviewers say that the 2014 Soul delivers a smooth and steady ride, even over bumps. Critics also point out that the steering is responsive, the Soul turns corners with conviction and that a reduction in cabin noise makes the drive even more pleasant.

  • "Even with nondescript suspension components -- MacPherson struts in front and a beam axle in the rear -- the old car's yo-yo-ing body and brass knuckles ride on optional 18-inch wheels have vanished. From San Diego's harbor, there follows a supremely entertaining gallop to Alpine and then through the bouldery Viejas Mountains to Otay Lakes." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The new car feels significantly more planted, and even a bit more eager to turn-in thanks to the architectural changes and a new one-piece steering gear housing." -- Autoblog
  • "Our drive route included a grab bag of pavement types and the new Soul dealt with each in dignified fashion, largely unfazed by all but the worst bumps. We also managed to get lost along the way, inadvertently detouring into some tight, twisting mounting roads. Steering feedback aside, the Soul turns predictably and corners with a level of confidence unfamiliar in the old Soul, which tended to skitter when steered over less than pristine roadways." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • “The body shell is stiffer by 28.7 percent and the suspension has been tuned for more compliance. That adds up to a smoother ride plus improved stability, particularly on nasty surfaces, as well as a significant uptick in comfort. Substantially reduced interior noise also contributes to a more pleasant cabin. Comfort counts in driving enjoyment, after all. So does basic dynamic competence. The new Soul has both." -- Popular Mechanics
Review Last Updated: 5/16/14

Next Steps: Kia Soul