The 2014 Kia Soul, in simple terms, shows how it’s done—fitting an incredible amount of passenger space and versatility into a very manageable, maneuverable (and stylish) exterior.
Because of how low the instrument panel is mounted in the new Soul, the driving position tends to feel quite high—a trait that shorter drivers will appreciate. Taller drivers will want to lower the seat a bit more than the adjustment allows—you’re scooped up a bit close to the roof, although models without the panoramic sunroof should give you a little more perceived space up there.
In any case, the front seats in the 2014 Soul adopt a new dual-density foam construction, which helps tremendously for the big and tall.
In back, there’s plenty of headroom and legroom for all but the tallest adults—even this 6’-6” tester would be comfortable enough for several hours back there. Also adding to the impression of space is how the Soul’s sides don’t appreciably narrow up to the roof.
There’s only one caution about seating here: The Soul is still a subcompact car in terms of width, so if you’re going to try to fit three adults across in the back seat—no matter how skinny they are—you might strike out. Luckily, in Plus and Exclaim versions, there’s a fold-down center armrest that could serve as a useful dividing line for at-odds siblings. And across the lineup, getting in and out is easy, whether you’re talking about the front seats or the back ones.
The one criticism that keeps us from giving this model a perfect 10 is that, as much as Kia has improved noise insulation, by adding special measures to seal out road noise—and even wind noise—it only serves to emphasize that they missed the firewall in this process. At least in the 2.0-liter models that we sampled in an early first drive, the engine could be especially boomy when accelerating reasonably hard from a stop, or even moderately up a gradual grade; it’s the only serious demerit for a package that otherwise feels so polished and refined.