By Carrie Kim on May 2, 2014
Based on this urban hatchback's size and styling, it's common for many families to dismiss the idea of a Kia Soul as a family car; all the moms at my daughter's dance class certainly did after I rolled up in one recently. Don't laugh the idea off just yet, Mom and Dad — the Soul can be a competent, comfortable and cool family car.
From the outside, the Soul looks small, but its high roofline and a low floor make for the ultimate family-friendly configuration. The height inside gives the cabin an airy, uncrowded feel, and the boxy shape allows for a few inches of wiggle room. Everyone in the family — from toddlers to parents to grandparents — will get in and out of this car with ease.
Speaking of wiggle room, you'll notice it both in the front and rear seats. Even when compared to its bigger sibling, the Kia Sportage, a compact crossover, the Soul has more rear legroom than the Sportage. The Sportage provides 37.9 inches of rear legroom while the Soul comes in at 39.1 inches. That's 1.2 inches more for the win. The Soul also leads its class in both front and rear legroom as well when stacked up against its closest competitors.
Keeping in mind that this is a compact car, families should adjust expectations: Three child-safety seats won't fit in the Soul. Rear-facing seats can pose a threat to a front passenger's legroom based on Cars.com's Car Seat Check. But if you're a family of four that has graduated to forward-facing seats, you've hit the sweet spot. Parents should have plenty of room up front with little ones behind them in forward-facing convertibles or boosters. The Soul's exposed lower Latch anchors provide problem-free access and eliminate many of the hassles of car-seat installation. Another win for the Soul.
If you need more convincing, look to the back. The Soul's cargo space, while compact, is efficient. The Soul offers something none of its competitors do: cavernous under-floor storage bins. The Soul can hold all the junk in our trunk that we need to have on a daily basis, and the rest of the cargo area can stay clear for grocery store trips, luggage and sports gear. While test-driving the Soul, a Target run yielded six bags that only took up half of the cargo area; I even had a carton of eggs and a few odds and ends stowed below. With the rear seats up and in use (the most likely scenario for families), the Soul leads the class again in available cargo space. If you're on a solo mission without the kids to the hardware store, the Soul beats out the Sportage again when the rear seats are folded: The Sportage has 54.6 cubic feet of space available while the Soul has 61.3.
While the specs prove it has the physical chops to handle hauling your family and your stuff, it's also got the personality to back up its family appeal. Quality materials inside the cabin and a refined driving experience should also entice parents. It's a fun car for the whole family, and it's one that won't break the bank with a starting price of $15,695. Can the Soul be a family car? Absolutely.
Cars.com photos by Carrie Kim