The Kia Soul: A Lot of Spirit in a Small Package
I have never been one to buy expensive cars, and in today’s economic climate, a brand new twenty thousand dollar plus car is even less practical for me. I don’t make that much money as a freelancer, and my other career…let’s just say it is not a field known for making people rich! So, economical cars with high safety ratings are very much my speed. Last week, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and trade my little compact car in for something new. I have two kids and several dogs, so what I was driving just didn’t have enough space. After doing a ton of research and quite a few test drives, I settled on a boxy, crossover vehicle, the Kia Soul. After having it a week, I am still thrilled with my choice. Here’s why.
Ø First, with its distinctive shape, the Kia Soul just looks cool! The vehicle is a hatchback wagon with a box shape, similar to the Scion xB and less, well, cube-like than the Nissan Cube. I love the smooth lines, unique contour, and overall design. The base model comes with a limited number of color options, which is usually a deal killer for me. I refuse to pay the price of a new car for something that has no personality. Well, the Kia Soul has personality even if the base doesn’t come in Killer Red! The bright silver of the model I chose pairs well with the black trim and looks flashy even if it isn’t an upgraded color.
Ø Second, the base model Soul has more bang for the buck. It was the only base model I found with air conditioning, power windows and locks, electronic stabilization, antilock brakes, and a cd player to boot. It even has Sirius satellite radio, which may hook me before my 3 months free subscription runs out. With most economical cars, the base models had no air-conditioning, which is just prohibitive in my area. I live in Florida, and I don’t see how buying a new car without air conditioning is practical for anyone, unless they are moving north immediately after the purchase.
Ø On the inside, there are a few little plusses that I just like. I love the dual level glove box. It is a much more convenient place to store items like a spare umbrella, in addition to the normal paperwork and owner’s manual. The back seats are 60/40 folding seats, so even though the storage area isn’t spectacular with the seats up, fold them down and I could get surf boards inside. The steering wheel has a tilt column, which I love, and my kids love the drink holders in the doors.
Ø The Soul comes equipped with iPod and USB ports, another nice option on a base car. I can hook my iPod up and the tunes come flowing out the stereo speakers. The speakers are remarkably good for a car in this class, and my sons are pleased with the ones in the back doors. I look back and even the toddler is jamming in his car seat.
Ø Driving the Kia Soul is a blast. Although most models all have an automatic option, the base Soul only comes in manual. I wanted base, so manual was the only way to go. Now, I have a confession to make--I needed a refresher course in driving a manual shift. I had been ten years since I owned, and drove, a stick shift, and I was a slightly uncomfortable at first. But after a little practice, I felt like I could win the Daytona 500! Kidding aside, this little car has some zip—on a level I would not expect for a little compact engine. It may not be a performance car, but it sure is fun to drive! Even Edmunds.com says that the Soul “is the most sprightly small car the Korean automaker has produced.”
Ø Fuel economy wise, I have been pleased. There is a neat little gadget that shows the average miles per gallon achieved. I am usually getting around 32 miles per gallon, and that is with a substantial amount of city, stop-and-go travel. Interestingly, this is better than the projected 26/31 miles I had expected. Compared to most similar cars, the Soul leads the pack.
Ø The Soul has been named a Top Safety Pick by the insurance industry, which is important to me as a parent. Especially since this may well be the first car my teenager drives (Heaven help us all!) The base model comes with a number of high rated safety features as standard. These include: electronic stabilization, antilock brakes, front airbags, and side curtain airbags. As a result, the cost of my monthly insurance policy took a nose-dive, so much that my monthly car payment and insurance payment combination is actually $30 lower than what I was paying with my previous car!
Overall, I love my little Soul. Does the interior look less polished or expensive than a luxury vehicle? Sure. But, I am not paying for a luxury vehicle, either! In its class, the Kia Soul gives me the most for my money.
2011 Kia Soul
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