A New Way to Roll
A couple weekends ago my husband and I decided to take our little ones to Pennsylvania for the weekend. We went on assignment to check out Hershey's Chocolate World, and Dutch Wonderland. Because we decided we'd like to do an overnight trip, we needed a vehicle that could pack a little extra stuff. We needed to bring a cooler (because we had zero intention of buying lunches at the attractions we visited), plus we knew we'd probably be coming home with lots of chocolate and that weekend it was 100ºF. Who wants melted chocolate??
I've always wanted to try out a Kia Soul. The look of the car is just really... unique. It has that weird boxy look to it, and that is one sort of car I never bother test driving when I was looking around at vehicles to buy, so when the 2013 Kia Soul was offered for a review, I said, "Heck Yeah!" (OK - I probably just said that in my head, but you get the picture.) When the 2013 Kia Soul was dropped off, I quickly skimmed the paperwork and noticed that the color of car we received was called "alien". I kind of giggled to myself. Between the color of the car, and the overall design, I thought it was quite fitting.
The 2013 Kia Soul is a middle of the road car for me. There were several things I liked about it, but there were also a few low points that will probably keep me from considering this model as an actual car buying option. Perhaps these things will change in the next few years. I always like to see improvements and am happy to change my mind when something meets my standards. And of course my preferences are not everyone's preferences.
One HUGE selling point for me is the price of this vehicle and the gas mileage. The 2013 Kia Soul starts at $14,400 for the base model. The model we were given to test out started at $19,900 for a 2.0L automatic transmission. This particular model also had a premium package tacked on which included a navigation with Sirius system, Push Button Start with Smart Key, Leather Trim Seats, Heated Front Seats, Automatic Climate Control, Rear Bumper Applique, Cargo Net, and EC Mirror with Compass. That's a really decent price for a vehicle these days, even with an additional package added on. The 2013 Kia Soul is also rated for 26 MPG for the City and 34 MPG for the highway. We gauged that was about what we got as well, and were super satisfied that filling the tank doesn't actually cost all that much.
The next best thing about the 2013 Kia Soul is the SPACE. This is one of those "don't judge a book by it's cover" cars. Heck, don't even judge the size of the interior until you actually start packing things into it, and hop in for a drive. We opened the trunk when it arrived and were initially a little worried. It didn't look like there was really that much space, but we figured if we could master Tetris, then we could master packing our crap into the back of this car for our weekend away. And, master it we did with very little effort. The back seats DO fold all the way down, but since we have 2 kids in car seats, and since they HAD to come with us folding them down for the extra space wasn't an option. However, everything fit, with even a little extra room to spare. It wouldn't have been big enough to use for camping if we had to bring the kids, but for a family of 4 just going away for a night... it was no problem. My husband is also a rather tall man, and he had plenty of space in both the driver seat and the passenger seat which is rare for a normal size vehicle.
There were less important aspects about the 2013 Kia Soul that we really liked as well. There are virtually no blind spots, and it has a pretty good turning radius. Driving in the city and finding parking tend to be one of those "oh crap, I need that spot", and you turn last minute. Bigger vehicles or vehicles with a wider turning radius tend to make those last minute decisions more difficult, and require backing up and trying again. I really liked the dashboard control panel. It was easy to figure out, and wasn't overwhelmingly button-heavy. The small sun roof was also nice. It was a little too small for my taste, but I was glad it was there none-the-less. Who am I go to complain about how much of the sky I get to see through the roof of my car when every vehicle I've owned has been void of sunroofs? The vehicle overall was comfortable and supportive, but the seats were a little hard. The speakers have mood lighting around them in the front which was a nifty aesthetic feature. I didn't notice until hubby said something though. (We hadn't driven the car in the dark yet.)
Now, onto the two things I didn't really care for. The suspension is a little tight, which means you can feel every. single. bump. in the road. It's not as bad as some other cars I've tried out. The Scion TC was the worst, and I've heard Lotuses are pretty bad in that regards as well. However, those are meant to be sporty vehicles. I don't really see the 2013 Kia Soul as a "sporty" car. To me it's more of a family car and comfort is more important than sportiness. But, if you like that sort of drive, then it isn't a problem. It just took some time for my butt to get used to it, that's all. The second thing I found disappointing was the engine. The 2013 Kia Soul comes in 1.4L and 2.0L. I could have SWORN the one I had the opportunity to test out was the 1.4L. There was a lot of engine lag, and the "pick up" was rather dismal. We didn't even bother with the Eco option while driving it. I've owned small, older cars with smaller or equal sized engines and they out-performed the Soul. If you have the time to build up speed, that's one thing, but sometimes while driving on the highway, you need to put the petal to the metal and get out of the way, or quickly change lanes.
Overall it's a cute, little, affordable car, with plenty of space, and some pretty snazzy features. There were definitely some bonuses about it that I look for when searching for a new car, but there were also a few downfalls based on my personal preferences. I think it's definitely worth a test drive if you're in the market for a new car. I have a friend who saw that I was testing out the 2013 and commented that she has a 2010 Kia Soul and loves it. So, you know, to each their own, right? Test it out, and tell me what you think! Or, if you have one of your own, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
*I received the 2013 Kia Soul free of charge for 1 week in order to facilitate this review. All opinions are 100% mine. See Disclosure Policy.