SOAR vs AIRE
As an owner of a SOAR 14 and Tomcat 1 I can provide you with some feedback.
I find both super stable but not fast paddling solo.
1. The SOAR 14 is a canoe and you will sit higher. My preferred position is kneeling. The larger tubes makes re-flipping and re-entry diffficult in moving water. You can paddle it with a canoe or kayak paddle. I used a kayak paddle for years before switching to a single blade. As for the price and construction I have been VERY pleased.
2. The Tomcat, because of the smaller tubes, is much easier to re-flip and re-entry. But you sit and I personally find it harder to read the water in front of me. I expect that is because I learned from kneeling in my SOAR 14.
Being from the SE, sometime river difficultly rating is deceptive compared to out west. If you are looking for a boat that can handle large waves and plow through hole, then I've had good luck with the SOAR. If you are talking about more technical, must make, small slots, rivers then the SOAR 14 can be a bit much to handle. The IK would be a better choice.
One other thing to consider. The SOAR provide more cargo capacity than an IK. They make good multi day gear haulers. By the time your son is ready for Class IV stuff he may want something else for play.