Kia Soul is lacking something

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: KIA
Lookwise it's not bad. But Kia's 2014 Soul lacks, well ... soul.

How shall I put this… the 2014 Kia Soul lacks soul. It moves you – like it will get you from A to B – but it doesn’t move you emotionally. This is not the kind of vehicle that will pull you out of bed early on a Sunday morning, begging you to go on a drive.

The first generation Kia Soul debuted in 2008, and it was a bit of a hit thanks to its funky styling. It also outsold its main rival, the Nissan cube, because the Soul had a decent conventional automatic, while the cube had one of the worst iterations of a CVT gearbox ever fitted to a car.

The Soul also had funky, flashing speakers, which turned your car into a nightclub.

All these things, along with the fact it was somewhat decent to drive, helped the Soul.

I don’t know if it was Kia’s thinking or feedback from their customers, but the Korean auto manufacturer felt that the Soul needed to mature a bit. Some of that maturity is welcome, however, like the car’s styling. It still looks funky and cool but it also has a whiff of elegance to it now.

I like details like how its tailgate blends into its rear lights and the fact that its roof can be specified in different colours.

I also like the new interior. It is spacious, moderately comfortable and now has a very decent infotainment system.

So far so good.

It remains fine if you’re using the vehicle for mostly city driving. It rides bumps fairly well, has a good turning circle and offers good visibility all around. However, I do wish it were more frugal.

My tester, which had the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder motor consumed 9.1 litres/100km. It’s not awful, but I expected better.

For those interested in specs, this motor produces 164 hp and 151 lbft of torque. A base, 1.6-litre motor with 130 hp and 118 lb-ft of torque is also available. While the base motor can be had with either a sixspeed manual or a six-speed automatic gearbox, the 2.0 SX model only gets the latter transmission. It is a smooth gearbox, so no complaints there.

The complaints start pretty much as soon as you hit the highway.

This is not a well insulated car. There is a lot of tire noise, lots of road noise and the car just feels stressed at highway speeds. On my weekly long drive, I got home feeling drained.

Since I felt the same way when I returned the vehicle the following week, my view of its performance on the highway was confirmed.

I actually think the older generation Soul was better in this respect. This aspect of the new Soul was enough to put me off.

What about the price? It starts off fine. The base model could be yours for $16,995. My well-equipped SX tester, however, was worth $27,395 (destination and excise tax not included) and I think that is a lot of money for this vehicle.

Like all Kias, the 2014 Soul is well made, it will be reliable and it has a great warranty – all of which are a good reason to buy one. However, if you do a lot of highway driving, you should look elsewhere.