It’s not every day that I am afforded the opportunity to have a car dropped off at the airport terminal for me to just get in and drive for several days. When that opportunity comes up, there is no question what the answer is – yes! Recently, on my travels to Atlanta, a 2013 Kia Soul! was delivered to me outside the terminal at Hartsfield International Airport. Given the keys and a brief run down on the car, I was ready to go. Plug in the iPod, chart my destination with the nifty touch screen navigation and off we go.
For those of you who have not been to Atlanta, traffic can rival that of Los Angeles, so prepare for stop and go traffic on the freeway, especially during rush hour. Determined to find a great place for a Friday happy hour, I headed to the lovely neighborhood of Grant Park and a cool place called Six Feet Under. The vibe is great, the local beer, Sweetwater 420 is perfect for a sunny spring afternoon, and the shrimp and grits is just what the doctor ordered after a long flight from San Diego. After a brief stopover, it was now time to head to the family residence in trendy and upscale Buckhead.
More about the Kia Soul! Mine was a fully optioned model. The engine was a 2.0 liter, in line 4 cylinder good for 164 hp and 148 ft. lbs. of torque. Fuel economy is respectable and rated at 23 city/28 freeway. This was not a hybrid or plug-in but your standard internal combustion engine powering the Kia Soul! The base model comes with a smaller engine, less features, higher fuel economy ratings and a very reasonable price of $15,200 including destination charges. The Kia Soul! model with the premium package which includes navigation with SiriusXM Traffic, push button start w/Smart Key, leather seats, heated front seats, and automatic climate control can push the MSRP over $23,000. Bluetooth integration is standard. The tester that I had came in a bright color that Kia calls Alien. It is a bright green color that really stands out, especially in Atlanta (Blame me for a camera malfunction – the pictures you see here are stock images). Kia calls the Soul! an urban crossover and it truly fits the bill.
Driving around town, the Kia Soul! does the job. While the ride can be a bit harsh over bumps, that may have something to do with the 18” tires. Handling was adequate and the Soul! handled the torrential rainstorm that occurred on my trip with ease. Interior space is reasonable. With a baby seat in back, the Soul! accommodates 3 adults comfortably. Trunk space felt a bit tight. I wondered how tight it might be if I had a stroller, groceries, bags from Target and other things back there. Most of my driving was confined to local roads and a few trips on the freeway, but stop and go traffic derailed my desire to open the car up and truly test combined city/freeway fuel efficiency marks. Again, traffic in Atlanta can be oppressive, just like the summertime heat.
The Kia Soul! is an easy to live with vehicle. It generally does what you need it to do. I made countless trips to the Four Seasons Atlanta to pick up my relatives, learned how to install a baby seat in the process, a couple trips to Home Depot, Target, Staples, and of course Whole Foods. What trip to the South would be complete without BBQ? Fat Matt’s – check. Fox Brothers – check. Picking up my sister from her office and then picking up my cousin after her conference and heading over to JCT Kitchen and Bar, the Kia Soul! felt comfortable and was a great vehicle for driving around, catching up and reminiscing. At no point did I feel like I wanted more. Of course I can say more power or more this and that, but honestly on a day to day basis, the Kia Soul! gets the job done. I am curious what a hybrid version of the Kia Soul! would be like though.
Walter Wang is Managing Editor of CleanTechies. Follow Walter on Twitter: @energytaxprof