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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Howdy! I’m Tom, and I just registered and left a message on the New Member’s Forum.

I’m in the market for a new Soul, and have already visited my local dealer to talk about buying one, and went on a test drive as well.

Now admittedly, I don’t seem to be the demographic that Kia is marketing to. I am fast approaching the early years of my Old Farthood, and the Hamsters (or Hamstars) appeal to me not a whit. I am a sedate, aging, conservative, Unreconstructed Southern White Male, and the commercials, while flashy and toe-tapping, do nothing for me. When Kia finally realizes that their little Souls are appealing to so many folks in my generation, maybe the ads will change. The new ad with the 18th century opera house theme is a step in the right direction, but how about extolling the virtues of the cars themselves, what with all of the gee-haws and wizardry they miraculously stuff into the little Soul? Perhaps they can even have one of the Hamsters, dressed in a tuxedo, describe all of the features in his best Sean Connery voice.

When I told my brother that I was in the market for the Soul, he had no idea which car I was talking about, but his six-year-old daughter sure did, as she LOVED the Hamsters. Perhaps back in Korea, the Kia advertising executives don’t realize that the credit rating of the average American six-year-old is pure stink on ice.

On to my review.

When I found out last week that I was to be travelling to Sunnyvale, California on business, I contacted Avis at the San Jose Airport and secured a Soul for my rental for this week. I figured that would give me an opportunity for a REAL test drive, not just a short one with a car salesman bleating blah-blah-blah from the passenger seat.
When I arrived at Avis on Monday, my Soul was all ready to go. It was, as are most of the Souls that Avis has in their fleet, a ‘+’ model. While I am in the market for the Exclaim version, at least I would have the 2.0 engine to put through its paces.

My rental Soul was red. Not just red, or even Red, but RED. I guess Kia calls it ‘Molten’, but I would call it ‘Satan’s Pajamas’ or ‘Baboon Bottom’, or, to paraphrase Melville, “as red as the paint on the Barbarian’s face as he flashes out from his wigwam” (Moby Dick, pp. 267).

As I describe my experiences in the Soul, keep in mind that my frame of reference is my current ride, a 2005 Jeep Wrangler Sport. I’m not really a sports car kind of guy. I did have a ‘Vette once back in the day, and while it was fast as hell, it was a truly crappy car, as I ended up with water pump, transmission, and everything-electrical failures. I hated the damn thing. I’ve been all about utility and reliability ever since, hence three F-150’s and two Jeeps since the nightmares with the Vette.

My first impression upon leaving the Avis garage was that this thing, for what it was (let’s not mince words, it’s an econobox), was FAST. Fast and nimble. As I headed to work through Sunnyvale traffic, I found my head bouncing back against the headrest at every takeoff from a light. It would do the same at higher speeds as well, and this was something that I did not expect at all. The little car was SO easy to whip around in traffic, and was a smooth ride to boot, even over the crappy roads that I’ve found to be the norm in that part of California. I did notice the road noise I had read so much about, but in relation to my Jeep, it was a whisper.

While the interior plastic did seem a bit cheap, the stereo system (bottom-o-the-line as it was) sounded great, and the Sirius sat system was easy to navigate. Pairing up my IPhone was a snap, but making a call using voice commands was almost impossible. Maybe the system had a hard time with my Southern accent, but I might as well have been speaking Portuguese Pig-Latin for all the Soul cared. What really turned me on was streaming music from my IPhone using Bluetooth. No wires, great sound, what a hoot. If I buy one of these, it will probably take quite some time to learn my way around all of the audio / smartphone features. Gotta do something about the voice commands, though. Maybe I’ll have to speak with more of an ‘urban’ lingo, nomesayin’?

The seats do leave a bit to be desired, as they are as hard as Chinese algebra, but I have sat in one trimmed out with leather seats, and it makes all the difference.

Once I was parked at my hotel, I gave that Soul an absolute autopsy! I went in and out of every nook and cranny I could find, from the cargo tray & doughnut in the rear to all of the features under the hood. I was under the seats, under the dash, and everywhere in between. This was another thing that I could probably not get away with at a dealership. I did my best to read the Operator’s Manual, and took in most of it. I did manage to read the Warranty pamphlet cover-to-cover.

As I drove the car around this week, I tried every gadget I could, to the point that I was probably not driving as attentively as I should have been. Twice I took my employees out to lunch with it, as much to get their impressions as my real goal of getting the car as heavily loaded as I could. One of my guys, on two occasions, noted the engine noise, which I hadn’t noticed at all, as my hearing is pretty much screwed by all of the shooting I did as a kid with a 22 pistol sans proper hearing protection. I paid his opinion no mind as 1) I couldn’t hear it in any case and 2) he is a snob who drives a Caddy CTS, which makes me think I’m paying him too much money anyway.

I drove on heavily trafficked streets, on the highway, and everywhere in between. I drove it with ECO both on & off (and noticed little difference). I played with the paddle shift, and fiddled with the climate control (the AC gets COLD!). I followed the advice I once read on a bumper sticker and Drove It Like I Stole It. At the end of it all, I topped it off, and although I failed to note the mileage*, the pump spat out the lowest receipt that I have EVER turned in on an expense report – a whopping $11. My last Sunnyvale rental, a Ford Mustang, did the same weekly routes for a tad over twenty bucks, and that’s when the gas was cheaper to boot. Bottom line for me – easy and pleasy to drive, great handling, and a gas miser, with more funky gadgetry than most nuclear reactors.

*I submitted my expense report today (Sep 18) and I noted that between my Avis receipt and my fuel receipt, the milage data could be figured - 23.9 MPG, very heavy-footed around-town driving , not too bad. Also, I made an Avis reservation for my next trip on 1 Oct, and I requested another Soul, of course!

All-in-all, my week with the Soul left me VERY impressed. It was much more than I expected, and seems to be a real deal at its price point. I think I want one. Badly.

Yesterday morning, I turned in my little Soul, and it was a difficult moment. No mother ever sent her son off to war with as heavy a heart as I had handing over those keys. Notwithstanding my brief sojourn during the dealer’s test drive, this little car, painted garishly as it was like the lipstick on a weary hooker’s face, had in true broken my Soul cherry, and I will be ever in debt to it.
 

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used to own a 2016 Soul SX 2.0L - Caribbean Blue
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interesting comments and well written article. By "played with the paddle shift" I presume you meant the manual shift of the transmission as the Soul does not come with paddle shifters. Also if you are interested in the Exclaim with the premium package you will have more of a stereo system to play with ;)

Hope to see you on the forum one day with your DRIVES profile filled out with a Soul model. If you have any questions just let us know. You can also download the owners manual from KGIS if you want to read up on full details before purchase.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
You are absolutely correct, I misused the term 'paddleshift'.

Yep, I know about the audio system in the Premium Package, but it also comes with Nav (which I definate do not want), and gives up the UVO. Basically, I think I'll be buying the Exclaim with the basic, almost obligatory PIO dood-dads, and I'll probably just write a separate check for the leather seats to be installed locally.

Thanks for the heads-up on the manual, I'll probably do just that.
 

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used to own a 2016 Soul SX 2.0L - Caribbean Blue
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yes, members have had there own leather seats installed without going for the premium pak on the Exclaim. I have the UVO system in my model as well as the Infinity sound with the 8 speakers and front door speaker lights and think the sound is great. As you notice from my DRIVES profile on the left that here in Canada our models have different names. Mine is equivalent to the + model with the sound package and sunroof pack.
 

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2017 KIA Soul base, Titanium. Bought some better taars.
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Kewlness, Tom.

I too had a rental a while back. It impressed me with its space, scootability, good ride on Toledo's rough streets, and general environment. I had a +, got 27 MPG from rental counter to gas pump and then it showed 27 again on return to airport, at speeds of up to 78. Not very impressive MPG for a 2800 lb. 2.0 liter.

I just bought a 1.6 (prefer that term to base) and so far so good. There is tons of standard equipment on this car. I'll try to figure out the bluetooth at some point. but I don't make it a habit of talking while driving.

Plenty of power with the 1.6. And anyway, there are no 2.0s available in my area.

I talked with my wife about getting some memory foam and sewing on some houndstooth upholtery fabric. I like the houndstooth in the ! but it's not worth two or three grand to me, nor are the 18s.

Good luck with your project.
 

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Hi, Titan Tom, and welcome to the Kia forum! Excellent review of the Soul, also!

My wife and I also don't fit the intended demographic, being 64. Around here, I see lots of us seasoned citizens in Souls, along with a fair number of 30ish-40ish soccer moms. Very few younger folks.

Should you wind up buying a Soul, I can heartily endorse getting after-market leather seats. We had our dealer's body shop add heated leather seats (it gets colder here in the Rustbelt than it does in Florida), and they did a terrific job. We had our pick from about 250 different kinds of leather (no exaggeration), and the body shop even covered the door panels with the leather we chose, so as to break up that monochrome black interior. The seats even got some added bolstering and are more comfortable. I put pix in this thread: What kind of vehicle did you replace with your Soul?, and scroll down to message 82.

If you enjoyed the Soul's handling with those stock Hankook hard-as-granite tires, you'll enjoy it much more with replacement tires. After about 3,000 miles, we got Michelin Primacy MVX4s all the way around for $550 installed. Made a HUGE difference. Lots of folks here swear by Eibach variable-compression springs, and we'll probably go that route, once Bilstein or Koni or someone starts making comparable shocks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Mostlyclassics,
Thanks for the kind words and sage advice on the tires. I checked out the pics of your Soul, and that leather interior is snazzy! I'll be shopping for one the same color as yours.
 

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Way back in the 1960's, Henry N. Manney III (a brilliant automotive journalist who wrote mostly for Road & Track), coined the term "rorty."

A rorty car was one you could toss about easily and would go precisely where you pointed it. Thus, an MG Midget or a Bugeye Sprite was rorty; a Jaguar saloon was not. A Mini Cooper in Stage III tune was rorty; a Cadillac Coupe de Ville was not.

My 1991 VW GTI verged on being rorty. A Kia Soul, straight out of the box isn't quite rorty, but I have hopes that with proper springs and aftermarket shocks (the latter not yet available), our 2012 Soul will become somewhat rorty, in the direction of my beloved '91 GTI. All the basics are there on the Soul -- it just needs some fine-tuning in the suspension department.
 
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