Friday, December 10, 2010

Life with Soul or 4550

Our 2010 Kia Soul in Loma Linda, CA
Kia Soul that is, the Hampsta car.  We drove into the Budget Rental lot and saw a bunch of cars.  I figured we'd be getting the Nissan Sentra.  While nice, the Sentra is your standard econo-car.  Just down the row sat two Kia Souls, one green and one black.  I said something to Trixy about how cool it would be if we got upgraded and could get a Soul.  But we had reserved the cheapest car we could find and the Sentra sat there waiting.  When we walked up to the counter and gave our names we were asked "Green or black?".  "Green" was Trixy's reply.  We were upgraded because I was tall.  Sweet deal!

Trixy with Soul at Henry Coe State Park
At just over $16,000 the Kia Soul is not cheap.  It plays in the same sandbox as the Honda Fit, Scion Xb, Nissan Cube, and an ever growing field of competitors.  There is much to like about the Kia Soul.  But before getting there, let me surface what I don't think is so hot.

Soul in Bend (near REI)
1) Blindspots
I noticed these while in Bend OR and only when parking diagonally.  Otherwise the windows are big and useful.

2) Mileage
Yes it isn't really that bad, but I am used to my Honda Civic that would get 32 mpg at a steady 85 mph.  Or 43 when driving 55-60 mph.  Instead the best I got was 32.5  when driving 55-60.  When driving a pretty steady 80 I was about 25.5 mpg.  The engine is something like 147 hp while my Civic was 127 hp, some differences but enough?  I'm not sure.

The rear pillar makes backing up a challenge
3) automatic transmission
A general bias.  I might have liked a manual more.  But tromp down on the accelerator and the little hamstas take a few moments to get the message.

4) I could never figure out how to play music through the USB connector with my iPod Touch or mini connected.

Dog (and luggage) friendly Soul
What is to like?  Everything else.  We took the Soul with 5585 miles and returned it with 10135.  The elapsed time counter showed 92 hrs and 40 minutes when we returned it which was actually some 30 minutes less than actual (due to figuring out the system about a half hour down the highway).  Our trip MPG was 25.86.  We traveled to within miles of the Mexican border and into Canada (although the Soul stayed in America).

Soul in South Bend WA
The Soul can easily accommodate four six-footers and have room for each one to have a 22" duffle AND see out the back window.  The climate control dials are large and easy to reach and adjust.  I found the gauges to be well placed and very readable.  The driving position was very good and never felt awkward even after hours of continuous driving.

The steering was responsive and tight.  Twisty roads are fun, but don't mistake this for a sports car (though admittedly I never did push the Soul to its limits).  You will want to be careful on less than smooth corners to be sure.  The Soul will just sort of skip sideways. 
Soul & Horse Tail Falls
The unkindest thing I can say about the ride is that on the choppy LA freeways left much to be desired.  Otherwise very nice.  One other thing I need to mention.  We encountered some very blustery winds.  The Soul held its ground and I rarely felt a tug on the steering wheel.  I don't know how the engineers did it.  Our 2001 Accord didn't manage as well.

Kia is working hard to design and build stylish cars and I would not hesitate to put this one in my driveway but for the gas mileage.

Soul over the Columbia River
As I write this I wonder, if I were a car what someone could write about me  Or what if I were to write about someone else?  From my worldview we all have the same designer.  We have different purposes to fulfill, we have differing strengths, weaknesses, skills, and abilities.  Would the reviewer take that into consideration?  In a human being is refinement built-in or developed? From my worldview "Love" is a foundational principle and the most powerful "force" in the universe.  But how does that fit in to a car-type review?  Would it be the engine? the fuel?  In any case I continue to reflect on my own life.  Is it possible I am being transformed from a Diablo into a Soul?

Bill with Soul in South Bend WA