Reviews

2014 Kia Soul Driving Impressions


Tooling around on our test drive in Minneapolis, we felt at home in the comfortable cabin. The 2.0-liter engine was perfectly capable, both in the city and on country roads far outside of town. We didn’t get to drive a Soul with the 1.6-liter engine, but we suspect it would be fine for solo commuting in city traffic. If you’ll be regularly carrying people or stuff, the 2.0 is worth the investment, especially since, according to preliminary estimates from Kia, the bigger engine only suffers a 1 mpg difference in fuel economy.

Although ride and handling has been improved, the Soul still feels like a box. There is quite a bit of lean around the corners, which is typical for these types of cars. Steering has been retooled, but still feels a tad odd. We felt like we were fighting the wheel at times, even on long highway straights. But while we had to actively steer the car, we also felt like it wasn’t the most responsive, either. Every Soul comes with an adjustable steering system that Kia calls Flex Steer. It allows the driver to choose from three modes: Comfort, Normal, and Sport. Sport seemed to make the steering feel more heavy, while Comfort made it feel more loosey-goosey. The Flex Steer system does not change other vehicle dynamics like throttle response or shift points.

Suspension is on the firm side, but is not nearly as teeth-chattering as the Mini Cooper Countryman. The Soul behaves best on smoothly paved roads. Potholes unsettle the car a bit, but its revised suspension is an improvement over the last generation. It might not be as sporty as the Mini Cooper Countryman, but it’s much more comfortable. Brakes worked fine, and the 6-speed automatic transmission shifted smoothly.

Ultimately, the Kia Soul is more of a lifestyle vehicle, and we suspect most who buy it won’t do so for its superior driving dynamics. It’s fun, looks unique, and infuses a big dose of practicality into a funky package.

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