Whichever way you cut it, the Kia Soul looks like one chunky, funky vehicle. It’s square - in a good way - as opposed to sandals with socks, leather arm patches and pipes.
Kia facelifted the 2nd-generation Soul in 2017 and then introduced an all-new model in 2020. There’s a very easy way to tell the difference. The older model has quite deep headlights and a natty little bow tie upper grille. The newcomer features ultra-narrow headlights and a mere slat of an upper grille. The older car’s round fog lamps have been replaced with much larger oblong items on the new model. Both are good looking vehicles.
Whichever way you cut it, the Kia Soul looks like one chunky, funky vehicle.
What’s it like to drive?
As Forrest Gump so wisely said: ‘Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.’ At least in the Kia Soul, you get a very good view of what’s coming your way, and what’s around you and indeed behind you. This is thanks to a high-up driving position, the big front windscreen and general all-round good visibility.
The 1st generation suffered from a firm ride. You and your passengers will feel a lot more comfortable in the 2nd and 3rd-generation models. You can use a button on the steering wheel to vary the weighting of the steering to find a set-up you like. The handling is nippy enough for town driving and the Soul feels composed on country roads and motorways.
The choice of engines available in the 2nd-generation model includes a 1.6-litre petrol and 1.6-litre diesel. Of course, you don’t have to have such an engine at all, as there’s also an electric version of the 2nd-generation car, while the latest model comes with electric power too.
The handling is nippy enough for town driving and the Soul feels composed on country roads and motorways.
Not surprisingly, given those boxy looks and high roofline, there’s lots of space inside the Kia Soul. Whether you go for the 2nd or 3rd-generation model, everything feels solidly put together, and this is most definitely a car designed to put up with the rough and tumble of young family life.
Trim levels for the 2nd-generation car are as easy as 1, 2, 3 – as that’s what they are called. The entry-level 1 comes with air-conditioning, which is essential in summer to prevent the cabin getting too hot with that big windscreen. A digital radio and Bluetooth connectivity are also provided.
A rear-view camera, climate control, sat-nav and cruise control make life a little easier when parking around town and tackling long motorway journeys in the 2 trim model. Stepping up to level 3 lets you cruise around on heated leather seats. There are a few special-edition models to look out for too, which feature special equipment and trim.
The new 3rd-generation model moves the game on considerably, with a smarter cabin design. Features such as crisply rendered touchscreens with smartphone connectivity, digital instrument dials, wireless charging and a premium 10-speaker sound system are all available.
While you’ll find plenty of space for occupants inside the Kia Soul, the boot is not the largest in the class. You can comfortably fit a week’s shopping in the boot and there’s enough space for luggage for 2 for a trip away. The boot opening is a nice square size to make it easier to lift objects in and out.
If you’re heading to the garden centre at the weekend, you’ll almost certainly want to fold the split rear seats down, which is easy to do.
Stowage space is very good throughout the cabin, with a large glovebox, deep central cubby locker and front door bins large enough to hold a 2-litre bottle of water.
Running costs and reliability
With its standard 7-year, 100,000-mile warranty the Soul provides a level of reassurance that few of its rivals can match. The Kia brand’s models usually perform solidly in customer satisfaction and reliability surveys.
The 3rd-generation electric model is more expensive to buy. Once you’ve made the purchase, running costs should be low as Kia claims an electric driving range of 280 miles from a single charge.
The 2nd-generation petrol and diesel variants are much more affordable. Best for fuel economy and all-round performance is the 1.6 diesel, which should return around 50mpg with careful driving.
What cinch loves
The Kia Soul looks like something you can imagine designers at another car company trying to get into production, only to be told by senior management: “Yes, very good, now go away and design something more sensible instead.” Kia had the nerve to put it on the road. We love the Soul’s sense of individuality and the breath of fresh air its styling brings.