Kia Soul (2014-2019) Review
The Kia Soul is eye-catching and practical thanks to its unusual boxy shape
Strengths & weaknesses
The Kia Soul is currently only available as an electric car, but the previous-generation model (2014-2019) was also available with petrol and diesel engines. In this article, we’ll look at this model in-depth and find out if it’s still worth a look as a used car.
The Kia Soul looks unusual even today, as it has a rounded-off but boxy design that was aimed at younger buyers. It was a pretty conventional car under the skin, though and shared a lot of parts with the sensible Kia Ceed of the same era.
Rivals at the time included the Skoda Yeti, Renault Captur, Citroen C4 Cactus and Nissan Juke - all funky-looking crossover cars with SUV-like elements but lower running costs and more ordinary engineering than you might think.
There were 1.6-litre engines under the bonnet of the Soul, either petrol or diesel. The former were called GDi and the latter were CRDi, so look out for those names in used car ads to see which is petrol and which is diesel. There were manual or automatic gearboxes available. There’s also the T-GDi, a turbocharged version of the petrol with 204hp.
An electric version of the Soul arrived later on, but we’ll cover that in a separate article as it’s likely to appeal to different kinds of people to the petrol or diesel versions.
In 2017 the Soul was updated by Kia with some small changes to the bodywork (the smaller grille section is the most obvious change) and some new equipment, but not too much else was changed.
Read on to find out more about the Kia Soul of 2014 to 2019 and see if it’s right for you as a used car.
Should I get a Kia Soul?
✔ Interesting looks
✔ Practical interior
✔ Long warranty
✘ Dull to drive
✘ Not economical enough
✘ Uncomfortable on bumpy roads
If you love the way the Kia Soul looks, it’s a worthy choice as a used car. It actually makes more sense now than it did when it was new, because it was rather expensive then and a few years down the line that seven-year warranty means it’s an appealing second-hand purchase.
It’s practical enough for family life, easy enough to drive and you’ll stand out from the crowd, plus it’s well-equipped. You should also consider a Skoda Yeti, though, which is also attractive to look at, but it’s more practical, better to drive and more comfortable than the Soul.
- Models explained
- Trim levels
- Best Soul for
- Boot space
- Should I buy used?
The Kia Soul is a small SUV with a boxy shape and the option of petrol or diesel engines. There’s a 1.6-litre petrol with around 130hp, a 1.6-litre diesel with a similar amount of power, or a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol with 204hp.
There’s a choice of six-speed manual or automatic gearboxes, although the turbo petrol engine was only fitted with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox only. It drives like a normal auto, but changes gear a bit quicker.
Kia Soul EV
The Kia Soul EV of 2014-2019 used a 27kWh and 30kWh battery and had a range of up to 150 miles - or more like 100 miles in the real world. This version is quite rare, as not many people were buying electric cars when it arrived, but it makes an interesting choice as a practical model for people who only drive short distances. It’s covered by a separate buying guide you can find here.
|Start||Limited stock: Entry-level versions have 16-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning, digital radio, electric windows and a six-speaker stereo system.|
|Connect||Limited stock: The mid-spec trim is better value and adds 17-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, Bluetooth connectivity, a reversing camera, cruise control and auto headlights.|
|Connect Plus||Limited stock: To get climate control, sat-nav and an upgraded stereo system you can choose the Connect Plus model.|
|Mixx||Limited stock: This version adds 18-inch wheels to the kit list, plus tinted windows, heated seats in the front and it looks a bit sportier too.|
|Maxx||Limited stock: The top-spec model adds front and rear parking sensors, leather seats, push button start and a panoramic sunroof.|
|Later models||Limited stock: 1, 2, 3 and Sport: After the 2017 facelift, the Soul trim levels changed to 1, 2, 3 and Sport. Entry-level cars gained tinted windows and keyless entry, plus Bluetooth as standard. 2 models added climate control, then 3 got 18-inch alloys and an eight-inch touchscreen media system. Sport trim was the only version with the 204hp engine and had everything above plus xenon headlights and LED fog lights.|
There are three engines to choose from in the Kia Soul and all are 1.6-litre motors. The best is probably the 204hp turbocharged T-GDi version, which is the most relaxing to drive. The lesser non-turbo petrol is a bit more of a chore to use as you have to rev it harder, which can be noisy.
The diesel still has its place, though. It’s the most economical version in the range and if you do a lot of longer trips that involve motorways and higher-speed roads, it’s certainly worth considering. The high price of diesel fuel means its running cost benefits are diminished but it’s still very economical and you can go a long way between fill-ups.
The Kia Soul range we’re looking at here doesn’t include the EV, which we’ve reviewed separately. We’re also only considering the 2014-2019 model (the second-generation model). We’ve lined up a few different buying situations below and picked out the best Kia Soul version for each of these situations.
|Kia Soul 1.6 GDi Connect: Avoid the entry-level model as it’s quite sparse. The Connect model has quite a bit more kit that makes life easier but won’t cost much more at all as a used car.|
|Kia Soul 1.6 CRDi Connect Plus: The convenience of climate control and sat-nav make family life better, so choose that model - with the diesel engine if you do a lot of longer trips - if you want a family car.|
|Kia Soul 1.6 T-GDi Sport: The fastest version is the turbocharged petrol version, which has 204hp and a dual-clutch automatic gearbox. It’s not much fun to drive, though, so we’d avoid the Soul if you are a keen driver.|
|The Maxx trim level is the most expensive one and we don’t think it’s worth the extra cash over a Connect Plus model. It also ends up being the most uncomfortable version thanks to the big alloy wheels.|
There aren’t many rivals that can match the Kia Soul for quirky appeal - the only one we can think of is the incredibly niche and oddball import Nissan Qube, which has a similar rounded-off but box look.
More traditional rivals that still have a stylish shape include the Nissan Juke, Citroen C4 Cactus and Renault Captur. You should also consider the Skoda Yeti, which is a fantastic all-rounder that’s better than these rivals in nearly every way. It’s held its value better on the used market, though, so it’s quite expensive.
Kia Soul practicality: dimensions and boot space
The Kia Soul is 4.1m long, 1.6m tall and 1.8m wide (excluding the door mirrors), so it’s smaller than the current Kia Niro and Soul models - but not by much. It’s also larger than a Nissan Juke of the same era, and there’s quite a bit more space inside as well thanks to the box-shaped exterior design.
There’s plenty of interior storage and the high roof means there’s lots of headroom. In the rear seats, there’s enough space for three people, especially as there’s no bump in the floor - so you can put your feet flat on the floor if you sit in the middle. It’s not big enough for three adults on a long trip, but there’s more than enough room for kids back there.
|Length 4,140mm||Width 1,800mm|
|Height 1,600mm||Weight 1,275kg - 1,582kg|
The boxy shape might mean it’s roomy for passengers, but it’s only okay for luggage space inside. There’s 354 litres of boot space, which is the same as in a Nissan Juke despite that car being smaller overall.
However, fold down the seats and there’s a total of 1,367 litres available, which is quite a bit more than in a Juke. The seats don’t fold down fully flat, though, so it’s not that easy to load in big or heavy items and get them out again. The Soul EV has a smaller boot because it has batteries under the floor.
|Seats up 354 litres||Seats down 1,367 litres|
The Kia Soul was never a big seller, so it didn’t appear in Driver Power customer satisfaction surveys when it was new. However, it’s closely related to other Kia models such as the Ceed that were popular with owners when new, plus the maker scored highly - in 2018 it came eighth overall, for example. The Soul should be very reliable overall, as Kia wouldn’t offer such a long warranty (see below) if its cars were likely to break down often.
Like all Kias, the Soul was covered for seven years or 100,000 miles from new. It’s one of the best warranties offered by any car maker in the UK and it means that even some of the older versions of the second-generation Soul are still covered by a factory warranty.
If you buy one of the later cars from 2018-on, there’s still a decent chunk left considering its rivals have long been out of warranty. Just make sure the car hasn’t gone over the mileage limit of 100,000.
|7 years||100,000 miles|
The Kia Soul might look like an oddball, but under the skin it’s as plain and sensible as all the other Kia models from this era. That’s not a bad thing for most people, because it’s easy to drive, reliable, spacious inside and well equipped. Unfortunately, it also means the Soul isn’t as enjoyable to drive as it looks like it might be, and it’s also not very economical or comfortable.
It’s a better used car than it was as a new car, though - the long warranty, good reliability and drop in price means that it’s more appealing than ever. It has a few thorns in its side in the shape of rivals such as the Skoda Yeti, though, which offers more practicality, a better drive and stronger residual values as well.
The 1.6-litre petrol version of the Soul is called the GDi, and it’s a decent choice for doing short trips and nipping around town. It’s best in Connect trim, which comes with a good amount of kit at a better price than lesser Start versions. This is our pick as the best value version.
Choose the 1.6-litre CRDi model if you are planning some family holidays or have a longer-than-average commute. It’s much more economical than other versions at higher speeds - you should expect over 45mpg there - but it’s not good for shorter trips, so think about what your plans are before choosing which engine you want.
The 204hp T-GDi model is automatic-only and comes in its own trim level, Sport. It’s the best version of the Soul to drive, although it’s a bit too uncomfortable and still isn’t exactly fun. It can be a bit expensive but it’s the best engine that was available in the Soul range, so might be worth trying.
*Representative PCP finance - 2018 Ford Fiesta 1.0 ST-Line Hatchback:
|PCP representative example||APR rates available|
|Cash price £12,000||APR 7.90%||Value of loan||From|
|Fixed monthly payment £218.12||Annual mileage of 8,000pa||£25,000+||6.9%|
|Total cost of credit £2,755.55||Term 48 months||£12,000-£24,999||7.9%|
|Optional final payment £4,285.79||Loan value £12,000||£8,000-£11,999||8.9%|
|Total amount payable £14,755.55||Deposit £0||<8,000||9.9%|
BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.