2014 Kia Soul: Real-World Mileage

KiaSoulLead500

It's always nice to take a few weeks off around the holidays for a vacation. There's time to spend with family and friends and for automotive journalists to test cars over an extended period of time.

Full Cars.com 2014 Kia Soul Review

I spent 12 days around Christmas ferrying my wife and two children — ages 4 and 5 — in a fully loaded 2014 Kia Soul. The small, square economy car promises a low entry price and decent gas mileage. During my test neither one was apparent.

Kiasoulcargo

The Kia Soul! — yes the top trim level is denoted by an exclamation point — starts at $20,300. Our test car added a Sun & Sound Package at $2,600 and the fantastically named The Whole Shebang Package at $2,500. The total with destination came to $26,195, an amount that staggered nearly every editor when brought up. That meant I was piloting my kids in a Christmas tree green — actually called Kale Green because it's good for you I guess — Soul with a panoramic sunroof, heated rear seats (which didn't do the kids any good in their safety seats), navigation, high-intensity discharge headlights and light-up speakers. Thankfully — since the temperature averaged 25 degrees during the test — it also had heated front seats and a heated steering wheel.

All that equipment — panoramic glass roofs are heavy — and having a relatively full cabin of passengers most of the time meant mileage suffered.

Kiasoulcoffee

The engine in my tester is the more powerful of two offered for the Soul, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder good for 163 horsepower. It's teamed to a six-speed automatic, and the EPA rating is 23/31/26 mpg city/highway/combined.

A smaller 1.6-liter four-cylinder is rated at 24/30/26 mpg city/highway/combined, so moving to more power doesn't impact mileage, and I thought the 2.0 needed more power in most passing situations when fully loaded with people. As we've reported, the EPA doesn't consider option packages that may add weight in its figures.

Soulmpg1

I used both trip computers to track my test and reset one with a fill-up early on Day Two of the test. I then put on 238.8 miles in mixed driving. This included congested highway commutes, around 80 miles of wide-open highway speeds and many miles of around-town suburban driving. Again, all in cold temps.

The trip computer read 22.4 mpg for the trip between fill-ups. I put in 11.06 gallons to fill the tank, making the calculated mileage nearly 1 mpg off at 21.59 mpg. We have covered discrepancies in trip computers and calculated fill-ups before here.

Getting 21 mpg in an "economy car" is a disorienting number, but considering the driving conditions, seeing a number 17 percent lower than the EPA's combined rating isn't awful. In most of my testing in tough commuting in cold weather a majority of test cars register mileage at or very close to the city rating. Of course, those are generally with just the driver in the car.

Kiasoulsnow

The Soul also features an Eco button that adjusts climate and other settings for improved mileage. I experimented with it throughout my test but generally only when I was driving alone as I thought it impacted acceleration even more when the need for it arose, and I didn't want that to happen with my kids in the car.

Do All Those Driving Modes Affect a Car's EPA Gas Mileage?

Car shoppers looking for an economy car are going to consider the Soul because of its low starting price, but they need to pay attention to the mileage figures if they're used to piloting high-mileage compact sedans like a Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic. However, the worst mileage we recorded in our long-term 2013 Civic was 23.81 mpg when cold weather set in earlier this winter. The Civic is rated at 28 mpg city.

Comments 

cody

nice mileage summary dave, and i appreciate you including the civic number for context.

xtoyota

Your mileage figures are meaningless. How can you achive EPA numbers under the conditions you listed...did you test the Toyota using the same conditions ?? NO

xtoyota

Correction.............Honda not Toyota

DBrown

Cold weather gas mileage suffers from "dirty gas" and inefficiencies but I know you know that.

xtoyota,
The numbers are "real" based on the litany of conditions I describe in the text. And yes, we included Civic numbers in similar temps. If you read the numbers the Civic's lower mileage is worse vs. EPA than what I saw in the Soul. However, most of our editors over that tank of gas likely did not do as much open highway driving as I did.

Glenn

Misery loves company. My 2012 Soul has been a constant source of disappointment in the fuel economy department. Especially since the Canadian ratings are even more optimistic, particularly before they were forced to adjust them. I think if I saw the adjusted US ratings before I bought, I wouldn't have been as disapointed. Mind you, I might have bought something else. It did occur to me that getting all the options wasn't helping mileage. Other than that, I like the car a lot and the 2014 sounds even better (although I hate the back end styling). I had the same situation last month on a trip with 4 adults in the car on the highway in the winter and mileage tanked compared to only 2 adults and milder weather. That's what happens when conditions aren't ideal. If I can find a flat road and do a steady 40-45 mph, my mileage is stunning (close to the pre-adjusted Canadian Highway-rating). Otherwise, not so much.

xtoyota

Sorry Dave I don't buy it....

Steve

22mpg for such a small car even in winter is a disappointment. Small, pricey and really not that efficient = why bother.

Derrick G

The EPA tests are ran mostly around 70 degrees. There is a small portion ran at 95 and the city test is ran at both around 70 and at 20 degrees, but even then we're not talking about the temps seen in the Chicago area recently.

SAE has a temperature correction for fuel mileage; if cars are to be compared, it needs to be applied and loads need to be similar.

Comparing one car heavily loaded to one lightly noted really isn't very useful information.

Infosaur

Also depending on where you live you might be getting "winter gas" which contains a certain percentage of Ethanol.

My car always suffers a 7% drop in mpg when the stations convert to "corn juice".

But the "top" trim level still has $5,100 in options? I think I like it better when "the whole shebang" comes with the whole shebang!

(epic naming though)

Chris L

Interesting article. To add to the discussion and share my experience. I recently purchased a 2014 Kia Soul Base model with the 1.6 liter engine and a 6 speed manual for commuting to work. I have a 44 mile round trip commute. Most of which is fairly flat open road with one good mile long up hill on the return. Only about 2 miles of in town stop and go. I've run a few trips just around town. I've put a little over 500 miles on the car myself and it has a total of 570 to date. So far I'm averaging 32-33 mpg. I am interested to see how the mileage does after the car gets more miles on it. It is still a far cry better than my old 1/2 4 wheel drive Chevy. I got it specifically for a commuter car. The options in the higher models weren't very important to me. The Base has most all the basics. The only thing I wish it came with was a cruise control, but I'm looking into adding one.

mike

my 2014 soul base gets 34 constant mpg.
ive added an intake and muffler, and about 5 more grounds from the battery.( why kia only has one is more mind bolging) if i drive in slow mode( very consertive) ill get 36, but i enjoy hearing the new muffler i added, so ill live with 34mpg. the 1.6 wont win races, but it pays for itself. got 3700 miles so far.

Tim A

I'll add to the conversation here - our 2014 Base MT 1.6L that I use for commuting 66 miles round trip per day, is getting 37MPG average. Way over the EPA rating. I've checked it over the 1st 1280 miles and this is totally unexpected, but very welcomed. It's how you drive it. If you're going to pay $26195 maybe people should consider something else. We picked up our new Soul at a dealer grand opening sale. MSRP was $16140, and we got 25% off that - $12,100 MSRP - brand new.

Tim D

Just bought 2014 base with 1.6 and manual trans. Like Tim A, I'm also getting 35.1 MPG combined. 70% of my commute is hi-way.I haven't driven in snow or with more than 1 companion.

Benedict

I have a 2013 Soul. During winter it gets 23-24 mpg. During summer, 28-29. The majority of my travel are 15 minutes to work in the morning with no traffic and a few red lights. And 20-25 minutes back home with traffic with twice the red lights. At those times I'm the only one in the car.

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