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The Kia Soul is a tall and boxy-looking hatchback model and one of Kia’s most instantly-recognizable machines. Model-year 2014 saw the second iteration of this flexible and economical runabout hit the market and plenty of new features and upgrades were part of that package.
Kia Soul is popular with owners from numerous walks of life and should serve virtually any shoppers need for a vehicle that’s versatile, economical, manoeuverable and easily adapted to virtually any task.
Look for premium stereo systems, colour-selectable cabin mood-lighting, heated seating in both seating rows, full communication and multimedia connectivity, a back-up camera, a sunroof, and plenty more.
All models got four-cylinder power and most models in the used market will run a 1.6- or two-litre engine, with up to 160 horsepower. From model-year 2017, a turbocharged engine was available, with 200 horsepower. All units were front-wheel drive, and manual or automatic transmissions were available.
If the Soul you’re considering has a sunroof, be sure to check all interior carpeting for signs of an unwelcome water leaks into the cabin. Water leaks are possible in any vehicle, even more so on vehicles with a sunroof.
Some Kia Soul owners have reported this problem, which may allow water to accumulate in the vehicle’s carpeting, inviting mould and rust. The culprit is usually a blocked drainage tube or channel, which intends to guide rainwater from the sunroof gutter, allowing it to drip safely out of the bottom of the vehicle. If these provisions become blocked by debris, the water may overflow, and wind up seeping into the cabin.
Check all interior carpeting for signs of moisture or mould, noting that footwell carpeting at the lower, outer corners of the vehicle cabin is most suspect. If you detect any, have the vehicle assessed before you buy, or move to another unit.
Some owners have reported hesitation, poor acceleration, or inconsistent power delivery as key signs of a problem with one or more components relating to the Soul’s engine. On your test drive, coax warning signs from the vehicle by accelerating to and from a variety of different speeds, with a variety of different throttle positions from light, to full-throttle.
Also, stop the vehicle completely, at varying rates, from a variety of different speeds. Scan for any sign of lumpiness to the acceleration, struggling, jerkiness, or a sensation that the engine might be about to stall. If detected, these are strong warning signs to have the vehicle professionally diagnosed before you buy.
Air conditioner performance check
Most Soul owners have not reported air conditioner problems, though some have and repairs may be pricey. So, stress-test the A/C system by running it full blast while the vehicle is parked and not in motion. Confirm that a sufficient and consistent supply of cold air arrives quickly, and stays on.
Continue to monitor the A/C on your test drive for any sign of weakness, or interruption in the flow of cold air. Note that a brief "pause" in the flow of cold at full throttle is normal, but that cold air should return once again within seconds of the throttle being released. If you detect problems, a clogged cabin air filter is likely to blame.
Ask a technician for help if needed, noting that other far-pricier problems may also affect the performance of the system. If in doubt, get it checked out, or you may wind up buying someone else’s repair bill.
Important engine recall
Like most cars, the Kia Soul of this vintage was subjected to several recalls, intended to address latent safety defects. Recall work is performed free of charge by dealers, to affected models. Not all models are affected by every recall.
Dealers can use the VIN number of the model you’re considering to determine if any recall work might be outstanding on the specific model you’re considering. Note that one such recall affects several thousand models with the 1.6-litre engine, to address an overheating issue that could cause sudden engine failure while the vehicle is in motion. Contact a Kia service advisor for more details.
Rare but notable problem
Some owners have reported excessive oil consumption from the Soul’s available two-litre engine, while most have not. All engines are expected to consume a small amount of oil between oil changes, but problems are likely if this amount exceeds accepted levels. Protect yourself by obtaining full service records that prove no oil changes have ever been skipped, and by religiously monitoring oil levels during ownership, which is important in any vehicle.
If you’re still covered by powertrain warranty, have the vehicle assessed at a dealership, at the first sign of trouble and keep all records in case a warranty claim is required. Full oil change and servicing instructions can be found in the owner’s manual. Note that the warranty does not cover damage caused by a failure to maintain the vehicle properly, or, by damage caused by the use of non-factory approved oil and filters.
The information presented above is gathered from online owner discussion groups and collaboration with a network of automotive repair professionals. The above information is not a comprehensive list of all possible issues with the vehicle in question and is instead intended to draw shopper attention to possible trouble spots they may wish to investigate before they buy. In most cases, problems listed above are reported with relative rarity in comparison to total sales volume. Shoppers are advised to have a dealer-performed pre-purchase inspection on the vehicle they’re considering for maximum peace of mind.