Our week as the cool kids {KIA Soul review}

by Tyler, editor and reviewer

Like everyone under the age of 20, my daughter loves the KIA Soul.  The dancing hamsters, the toasters, the “you can go with this or you can go with that” commercials, and most of all, the car itself. Hamster 3

Hamster 1
Have no idea what I’m talking about?  This YouTube video should help you out:

Now that you’re up to speed on why the Soul is awesome, it’s not going to be a surprise that we were thrilled to test one out through STI – The Drive Experience Company.  Since we had recently checked out the KIA Sportage, I was a bit worried that the cars would be so similar that there wouldn’t be much new to write about, but I was proved wrong within minutes of borrowing the “Alien Green” KIA Soul.

KIA Soul
From the boxy design of the Soul to the color-changing speakers that can change with the beat of the music, there’s really nothing quite like the Soul.  Yes, it does have many of the luxuries that won us over in both the Optima and Sportage, but it also has a very different vibe than either of the luxury KIA vehicles we’ve tested.

Here’s what we learned from our week of being cool:

Daddy-O Likes

  • Mid-level height – Easy to get in and out of and also to load things {kids included} into.
  • Boxy design – Although the Soul is a smaller car, the boxy shape and big sunroof makes it feel very open and roomy.  
  • Eco-Mode – It still amazes me that even in their non-hybrid models the eco-mode button really changes the feel and performance of the car, and really does improve your mileage.
  • Rocking stereo – Loud and clear, just how I like it. On top of that it will play just about anything you can throw at it including AM/FM, Satellite, CDs, iPod integration and Bluetooth streaming audio.
  • Back up camera – This is still one of my favorite features of all the KIAs we tested, especially as we’re acclimating to new cars and taking them to places unknown.
  • Fun Factor – There really is just something cool and fun about the Soul. Kia really managed to pack a lot of personality and style into what is normally considered just a basic transportation type of car.

KIA Soul steering wheel

KIA Soul sunroof
Mama Likes

  • Keyless entry and ignition – Yes, I’m still raving about this.  If I could change one thing about every car I have ever owned, it would be to add keyless entry and ignition.  I would happily keep my car keys zipped in the pocket of my purse and never take them out again, which would save us roughly 15 minutes every morning that is spent searching random places for my car keys. 
  • High-tech envy – Our road trips are usually more plugged in than I would like, but having on-call schedules and a job that never ends means that our phones need do more than accept calls these days.  For this reason, I love that I can easily hook my phone up to the Bluetooth so that calls can be made and accepted right from the control screen or steering wheel.   
  • GPS – When we set out on a road trip, it’s a given that we will end up exploring a bit off the beaten path, so I love the built-in GPS on the control panel that can help guide us back to the main path to find food, water, and shelter, as needed. 
  • Heated seats – I love heated seats.  I was sold on this alone.
  • Big, but not too big – I like sitting up higher when driving, but I really don’t want to drive a huge truck or SUV, so I love that the Soul is big without being unmanageable in a parking lot or narrow roads. 

KIA Soul rear view mirror

KIA Soul with Deer
Kiddos Like

  • Teenagers love it – I don’t know if it was the hamsters that did it, or if tweens and teens love the Soul because it’s so different, but whatever the reason is, KIA has totally nailed the teen market with the Soul.  Our tween/teen nieces, neighbors, and friends all came out to see the Soul and it was by far the biggest response we’ve gotten in a test drive car.  And, it's hard to not think you're cool when all the hip teens are dying to ride in your car.
  • Good visibility – Again, both kiddos loved being up higher in the KIA Soul and how they could see everything easily on our roadtrip.  This was especially important when we were surrounded by a group of deer grazing in the median of the beach front road we were cruising down and the kiddos had a gorgeous view of the action just like we did. 
  • Big rear windows – Not only do these allow for the great views, but they open big as well, something the kiddos have just decided is the coolest thing ever. 
  • Dance parties – Car dance parties will never be the same now that they have experienced car speakers that change color – either by mood lighting or to the beat of the song.

Hamster 4

Although the KIA Soul is a fun little city car that does well over smoothly paved roads, it doesn’t handle poorly maintained pavement well, perhaps due to the short wheel base.  On our KIA Soul road trip we were often faced with potholed beach roads that the Soul’s suspension and stability control system didn’t quite know how to handle.  Whereas the Sportage gave a smooth ride through just about everything, the Soul is much more jittery in comparison.  

KIA Soul at the edge of the world
But, with the Soul’s very reasonable price tag, this might be something that I could eventually see past.  With their base model starting $14,400, it really is an amazing deal for the price.  Even the fully loaded model that we tried out was still around $23,000, which is a great price point for their demographic markets. 

During our test drive a comment was made by a stranger about how “dialed in” we looked in our Soul with our integrated phones, the fancy control panel, and the fact that I was taking electronic notes from the comfort of the passenger seat.  I thought that summed up the test drive perfectly as I had found it was hard to not feel hip and cool in a “dialed in” Soul that got so much attention everywhere we went.

Interested in driving experiences?  Check out the STI Facebook page to keep up on all their events near you.
TylerA big thank you to STI The Drive Experience Company for letting us borrow the KIA Sportage for the week to facilitate this review.  As always, all opinions remain 100% ours.

2 thoughts on “Our week as the cool kids {KIA Soul review}”

  1. Those hamsters scare me lol, but that is amazing that you got to do a review! that car may be a little too “boxy” for my taste, but I love the features.


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