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Discussion Starter #1
I just spent a couple of days driving my new 2017 Kia Soul base model on an ~800 mile trip in the western U.S. The headrest, which bothered me minimally on a brief test drive, was unbearable over the course of a longer trip. >24 hours later my neck and back are still sore and I have a raging headache.

I am a petite woman (5'2"), and the bottom edge of the headrest protrudes forward about 1.5" past the front edge of the driver's seat, pushing my head and neck forward, tilting my chin down, and making it impossible to rest my upper back/shoulders against the seat. I resorted to turning the headrest backward at the last rest stop of the drive, which alleviated the pain, but is an unsatisfactory solution for both aesthetic and safety reasons. Simply reclining the seat more means that I'm either slouched back in a position that feels unsafe and uncomfortable, or I am sitting upright without any support from the seatback. Again, for the sake of safety and personal satisfaction with the car, this seems like a very poor solution.

I have read that prior to 2017 the Soul had headrests that could be adjusted forward and back (in addition to the standard up/down). I have also read that the non-adjustable (forward/back) 2017 Kia headrests are designed with a forward position/tilt similar to the forward-most position of the pre-2017 headrests. Can anyone confirm this?

Ideally, I would like to replace the headrests with something that doesn't turn my car into a torture chamber. Does anyone know if headrests with the forward/back adjustment mechanism from a 2014, 2015, or 2016 Soul would fit my 2017 base model Soul? Or barring that, any recommendations for aftermarket headrests that would improve the situation?

Many thanks!
 

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I just checked my 2017 Plus and it looks as if they do not adjust either. They do look almost exactly the same as the ones on the Gen 2 cars that do adjust. I am not bothered by them because I move the seat up and down to tilt it back and forward to get to my ideal spot along with the forward and backward motion. I do not use the seat back adjustment other than to put in in place first for my back. Then I set the other two adjustments. I have been doing this since the Gen 1s and I have always been able to find the spot where it is comfortable. Oh, and I include the up and down position on the head rest, I have never used the head rests in any position other than all the way forward (when they had that adjustment, I just did not notice it on the 2017).

In addition, there are web sites that sell head rests for the Soul. Here is one on ebay: https://www.ebay.com/b/Kia-Soul-Seats/33701/bn_1419868
 

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2017 KIA Soul base, Titanium. Bought some better taars.
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My wife has the same issue. HAD. We turned the headrest around, rotated it 180 degrees. It tilted backwards a bit but a permanent head/neckache was not an option.

I don't understand why these headrests tilt so far forward. Koreans are not hunchbacks, it just doesn't make sense.
 

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looked in the 2017 Canadian owners manual and it shows the forward and rearward adjustment to the headrest to 4 different positions, just the same as my 2016.

My wife is 5'2" but has no problem with the headrest. I have the leather seat trim.

Maybe take it to a upholstery shop and get it modified to solve your problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks, everyone!

My manual also says the headrests adjust forward/back but they definitely do not and don't have the slots on the bottom that would allow such movement. I've tried just about every seat position up/down, forward/back, recline/upright, and moving the headrests up from the lowest position, but there's no relief to be found with the headrest jutting so far forward from the seatback into the back of my head. @conwelpic, I suspect I wouldn't have a problem either if I actually did have the adjustability that your 2016 headrests have.

I could modify it myself if necessary (I have upholstery experience) but if I'm going to invest time or money in a solution beyond just turning the headrest around backwards I'd rather just buy a replacement.

@Neanderthal, I agree with your wife that a backward headrest is preferable to a permanent headache! @Shaggy Weirdo and @jonbourg, thanks for pointing me toward some potential options for replacements. Do either of you (or anyone else) know if the spacing and diameter of the posts that support the headrest are the same on 2017 and earlier 2nd Gen model years?
 

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I initially thought my 2014 headrests didn't adjust either, but they do. They took more force than I expected to click forward and then reset to the most rearward position.
 

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I initially thought my 2014 headrests didn't adjust either, but they do. They took more force than I expected to click forward and then reset to the most rearward position.
Our 2010 +headrests adjusted. Our 2014 + I think and hope adjust because I'm in the same boat as the OP - they are set way too far forward to be comfortable.
Greg
 

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I have researched my manuals. My 2017 Manual definitly does NOT have any mention of the head rests moving forward and backward. However, my 2014 manual does. To me that is at least a real cheap move on Kia's part. To the OP, becareful, a replacement may have to have the seat with some kind of tracks in it before it will move. I also measured my current head rests and they are even with the seat back, not two inches out. If yours are that far out, I think you have a defect.

I also pulled and pushed my headrests around and they will not move in those directions.

Go to a junk yard and find the head rests from an older gen 2 and use them to test out this theory. Sorry, but I think you need a trip to the dealers to figure this one out.
 

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I checked the US 2017 owners manual and it only operates up and down.

I was thinking maybe I should do some photos of my headrest in the furthest forward and backward positions for reference. The headrest definitely moves within itself, it does not appear to have anything to do with the seat back, so if it fits in the slot then it could be okay from a previous year.

Maybe as Shaggy mentioned, check at the dealer with other models on the lot to see if there is any variation, you could also swop out some headrests to check for fit. Maybe there is differences between the 3 models (Base, Plus and Exclaim) with regards the fit. They may also still have some 2016 on the lot that you can also check against, it's worth a trip, far easier than going around junk yards.

It certainly doesn't seem like it should stick out that much from the seat if it just simply goes up and down, you would think it would be flush with the seat. Maybe as he said it could be a defective seat assembly - it's rare but it could happen.

Shaggy - out of curiosity does the headrest from your 2012 fit in the slots of your 2017?
 

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...Shaggy - out of curiosity does the headrest from your 2012 fit in the slots of your 2017?
Duh, never even thought of that. Great idea. When one of the gen1s gets home, I will check it out. Both the 2013 and 2012 are daily drivers so I don't have them around me all the time.
 

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That sucks that they removed that feature. My 2014 headrests are great. They ratchet forward and back, up & down to a comfortable position.

Kia pulled other nice features in the base MT model after 2014 (eg: front row auto windows, heated mirrors & fender mounted turn signals). I guess to keep the price low.

I wonder if you could get ratcheted headrests, like Shaggy mentioned, from a salvage yard. Prices for new ones are kinda steep:

Shop Our Selection of OEM and Aftermarket Auto Parts and Accessories

* While they are called "headrests" they are really designed for whiplash protection, hence the radical angle.

** I wonder if you could take the headrest to a machine shop or welder & see if they could bend the 2 metal shafts to change the angle.
 

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5' 2" is pretty short, I would suggest a thick padded seat bottom. Here is a 2015 soul front headrest set for sale on EBay for $65!
Having a 2015, I gotta say that while there is a front-back headrest adjustment, it's not very much movement. The headrests work ok for me (I'm 6'2") but on a trip with a shorter co-driver I heard a lot of complaints about the headrest.

Seems like if you had a big vise, you could bend the upright rods back a bit. But I haven't tried that, so can't promise that it wouldn't mess something up.
 

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I stand corrected - I never really give it much thought, when I got the car I just played around with all the adjustments on the seat including the headrests till it seemed good and stuck to that.
However, on looking at it closely when I took these pictures it really wouldn't be all that great if the headrest were flush with the back of the seat - that's not the way a normal body is shaped. EG: try this - if you stand up with your back against a flat wall and then put the back of your head against it, you will find it very uncomfortable, so normally the back of your head is forward of your back.

You can see in this photo that with the headrest all the way back it still sticks forward a bit past the top of the seat (this is the position that works for me at 5'-11" and my wife at 5'-2"). When my wife drives she just pulls the seat forward and adjusts the inside mirror - not easy for me to get in after if she forgets to push the seat back when she gets out.

 

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Thanks for the info, everyone! This is all very helpful for figuring out how to resolve the problem!

It might be a few days before I could get to a dealership to inquire about older model headrest compatibility with the 2017... @Shaggy, if you have a chance to compare your Gen1 and Gen2 compatibility in the meantime, I would be very interested to hear what the result is!

@conwelpic, those photos are quite useful for helping me figure out whether a headrest from a previous year model might be a real solution. The headrests in mine are shaped slightly differently, but are more similar to the farthest forward setting in your vehicle (though maybe not quite as extreme). Here's a photo of the driver's seat headrest from the perspective of the passenger seat. headrest.jpg

The forwardmost point of the headrest contacts my head right above the base of my skull such that my neck and upper back can't make contact with the top 8-10" of the seatback with the headrest inserted correctly. I have good posture and a big head, so the rearmost point of my head really isn't carried much in front of the rearmost point of my back/shoulders unless I'm leaning forward, significantly slouched, or looking down. Not to mention that many hairstyles that are practical in hot summer weather like this add another 1/2" or so of padding to the back of my head at times. I compete in a sport for which posture is important, so I've been trained from a young age to do exactly what @conwelpic suggested and check my posture by standing against a wall -- head and shoulders both in contact feels perfectly normal to me!

If I were to try to fix this with padding I'd need at least a 6" seat cushion to raise me to a point where the wide bottom of the headrest sits below the wide part of my skull. I don't love the idea of a seat riser cushion in any case -- I hate having clutter in the car and would be annoyed by anything that could shift around as I get in and out. I'd be more inclined to add a back support of some kind, since it could theoretically be strapped in place and the lumbar support of the base seats is pretty poor anyway. Unfortunately, what I've seen online so far seems to taper too much toward the top of the seat to be of any use in resolving this particular problem. But really I'd like to solve the issue in some way that doesn't involve adding junk to the driver's seat if possible. Fingers crossed that the replacement headrest idea is workable...
 

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maybe go to a drugstore/pharmacy or similar place that specializes in various types of supports (going online for this sort of item is not practical as you have to see it and try it to know if its going to work).

Have you tried one of the rear headrests to see if they are any better for your problem as its shaped a little different? I just went out and checked on mine and the outboard rear headrests will fit in the front seat slots but its a bit loose as the rods are slightly smaller in diameter to the front ones. As it would be all the way down in the slot to the top of the seat it might not cause as much of a problem as if it was up high.
 
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