Before saying hello to fall last week, we packed up and headed south for a road trip in a 2014 Kia Soul lent to us for the week. Normally, I drive an SUV that is large enough to fit our entire school carpool, sports gear, and then some, which meant I was quickly in love with the nimble Kia Soul.
The car has loads of personality, starting with the colors. Ours was red, which made it pop in parking lots. I could always find the car in the crowded lot, suddenly I was aware that most cars are in the grey-white-black scheme. The red Soul called to us always.
The outside may have the flash, but the interior is plush. It felt really nice, with front seat cooling systems for those hot days and all-seat warming for those cool nights, especially driving around with the sunroof open. The car is sleek.
My favorite feature: the navigation. This was the best navigation system I’ve used. It was much easier and faster to enter addresses than any system I’ve used before, and while driving, it would display the speed limit – very handy when on a road trip and the freeway speeds fluctuate. The entire screen, with navigation, back up camera, and music was flawless. My phone synced in seconds, which meant all of my music was available through the car’s audio system before I pulled out of my driveway for the first time. It was a well designed hands free experience.
Another small feature with a big benefit was the power folding outside mirrors. When I’d lock the car, the mirrors folded in, getting them out of the way from people or things knocking into them. It added to the trim feel of the car.
My kids’ favorite feature: the panoramic sunroof. The back seat is normally left out of the sunroof experience, so this was something special. My son asked me to show his friends, who were all wowed by it. The Kia Soul clearly has the eight year old vote on that feature alone. Their second favorite feature would be the lights around the bumpin’ Infinity speakers, even though those were in the front seats while they were in the back. It felt like Virgin Airlines in there with the serene mood lighting.
How did it hold our stuff? For the road trip with a car full of people, we had to be creative. We picked up our daughter after a school camping trip, and while we wondered how we’d fit in our weekend bags, backpacks, and the camping gear, the hidden storage compartments became invaluable. We got a sleeping bag in one compartment, her pillow in another, and a bag in the third. Don’t let the small size fool you: a lot can fit into those spaces.
Three kids fit easily in the backseat, including a big car seat for my one-year-old niece. Had we not had kids with us, we could have put down the back seats for plenty of storage space or room for transporting dogs, which was a question asked by a co-worker.
This car is perfect as a second family car, for college kids, a first car after college, or as a friend pointed out on Twitter, for parents who are newly empty nesters looking to downsize their car and have a little fun. For eco-and-gas-mileage-conscious, they have an EV version now, too! One thing is certain, you will get attention. More people would ask me about the Kia Soul than any other car I’ve driven. The enthusiasm is contagious!
We took the car to the beach because it’s a fun beach car, but I didn’t take any photos of the car overlooking the sand, as I had planned, because the most hilarious (for me), horrible (f0r my sister) thing happened on the beach. My sister tied *her* car keys to a balloon to help weigh it down, except the keys didn’t help and the whole thing took off like the house in Up. After that, the mood wasn’t really right for a photoshoot and we had to track down a replacement car key for my sister. If you’re around Avila Beach and find a set of keys with a piggie keychain tied to a deflated pink balloon, let me know.