A few weeks ago my husband’s sister let us know that she would be in San Antonio and inquired on whether we would be willing to drive down to spend a couple of days with her. As my husband hasn’t seen her in a number of years, had some vacation days from last year to use up and we were meaning to drive down in spring anyway to visit the sites and some friends who live there as well, we decided to plan a short road trip.
STI Drive stepped up to the plate and offered us a 2014 Kia Soul to use for our mini road trip and we were eager to see how this compact car would perform.
Initially we didn’t think that we’d be able to get all our bags in the trunk, as going to the grocery store a couple of days earlier seemed to fill the space with a few full bags and a case of water.
But we really had no problems getting all our stuff in it (man we way over packed for 4 days!), and the covered cargo space is a nice perk so you’re not showing off what you have in your trunk for the whole world to see. (Oh and there’s a nice little handle built in the trunk lid for tiny people like me to reach in order to close it again Thanks Kia!)
We were also a bit taken aback on the headroom in the Soul. My husband is 6 feet and often in compact cars there isn’t much clearance between his head and the top of the car, but that wasn’t a problem in this Kia at all.
Since this was our first time navigating down to south Texas we plugged the address in the built in navigation system* and it quickly calculated the time, mileage and route to get us to our hotel in San Antonio. And then we were off!
The Kia Soul boasts an average fuel economy of 26 MPG (23 city/31 highway). On an almost full tank of gas (we had driven it short distances in the city before we left), we made it to our hotel in San Antonio with gas to spare! Our trip distance was 300 miles and we ended up getting 30 MPG on the way down. Coming home we didn’t fair so well as we were hitting a north wind head on and we weren’t driving at an optimum speed because of the weather advisory, in the end I believe it worked out to about 25 MPG.
Between the GPS and the gas gauge mileage indicator you can tell exactly how far your tank of gas is still going to get you. It will even alert you when you only have enough fuel for about 20 miles and the GPS gives you the choice then to find gas stations along your route. That is a great feature when you’re traveling and don’t know the area at all.
I only drove the vehicle in the city and I was a little worried I’d feel a lot of bumps while driving since my main vehicle is a small SUV and I sit a lot higher up than the Kia Soul. So I was quite surprised to find out that it gave a smooth ride even on the terribly uneven roads in our neighborhood. My husband did the highway driving and while he felt that it didn’t give him quite as much power as his turbo boosted compact car does, it was up to the task of providing him a cruising speed up to 75 mph on the Texas Interstate while still handling well.
4 ½ hours on the road means everyone has to stay occupied, even those that aren’t driving. The Kia Soul has outlets to provide charging of tablets, phones, iPods, etc. so that the kids can stay entertained with movies and grown ups can catch up with their 5 Candy Crush lives 😉 Bluetooth enabled devices can be controlled right from steering wheel, allowing you to take calls hands free, and/or the sound from an iPod or your phone playlist can be routed through the speaker system. It also includes the UVO system which lets you control certain functions with just your voice!
Equipped with Sirius/XM Satellite Radio you’ll never be without tunes or a radio show to listen to. While we started out listening to our favorite radio station when we headed out of town, once we lost the signal we switched to the satellite radio and had a great selection of stations to listen to the 4 days we were gone, it was nice not having to search for a station that plays what we want to listen to, and no worries about going out of range and getting static either. I was entranced by the speaker lights*, which provide an extra level of entertainment as they change color.
A few other things that we really liked about the 2014 Kia Soul:
✭ Remote Keyless Entry* – not having to pull the keys out of your bag or pocket is such a handy thing. Just have it nearby, press the button on the door handle once to unlock the driver’s door, twice for the other doors and you’re in. Just press the button in the car to start it.
✭ Heated & Ventilated Front Seats* – You wouldn’t think we would need those here in Texas, but even in San Antonio the week we were there, It. Was. Cold. Having the option to warm our behinds up a bit in the mornings after the car had been sitting out all night was really nice. I can imagine that the cooler seats here in Texas in summer would be a welcome option as well. The rear outboard seats can also have the heated option which you don’t always find in an accessory package.
✭ Automatic Climate Control* – Just turn the dial to your desired temperature and the smart system will do the rest!
✭ Auto-Dimming Rearview Mirror – My husband commented on how this was a feature that he really appreciated while driving at night, no more being blinded by the headlights of the car behind you.
✭ Arm Rest in the Back Seat with Cup Holders – Makes SONIC trips a lot easier with kids
✭ Back up camera – I cannot say enough that this is a MUST have on any new vehicle I end up buying. I no longer hate parking lots and felt completely comfortable backing up in our swing driveway knowing that I wouldn’t hit anything while backing up.
✭ Power Folding Mirrors – when you lock the car up, the side mirrors fold in. Not only does that protect them, but when they fold in…you know your car is locked! I don’t know how many times I end up pressing the lock button on my current key fob because I’m not sure if my car is actually locked!
One of the things that we would really like to see changed on the Kia Soul is the volume on the navigation system. Between the residual noise of just driving on the highway and having the radio on, and people in the vehicle even at its loudest volume we thought it was very quiet. Though the radio fades down when the voice kicks in, we still found it really difficult to hear. When we really needed to follow the directions and couldn’t just rely on the visual screen we actually had to turn the radio off completely, and still in our opinion it was too quiet.
The 2014 Kia Soul we were loaned is the Inferno Red paint color with a black interior, is fully loaded with features and has an MSRP (with the included options and inland freight & handling) of $26,195. And there are a lot more features on this vehicle that I didn’t even touch on! Visit the Kia website to build and price out your own Kia Soul.
I have to honestly say prior to driving this Kia Soul for a little over a week, Kia wasn’t even our list of vehicle brands to consider – this definitely had us re-evaluating Kia as an option for a future car for us.
*Additional installed equipment not included in the standard features.
The Kia Soul was provided for our use and we were under no obligation to give it a positive review, all opinions are our own. No compensation or material benefits were exchanged.