This compact car packs a lot of road trip surprises
This summer we took our two year old son to Seattle for his first taste of the Pacific Northwest. Being working parents we try to make the most of our vacation days by flying in and out of different destinations and taking a road trip between them.
Originally we had planned on taking a SUV on our drive from Seattle to Portland with a detour to Crater Lake when I heard about the opportunity test drive a Kia Soul 2014. Since we were starting our trip in Seattle, the rich mocha color of the Kia Soul was the first indication that we were going to be a great match.
Besides, it was just two adults and a toddler with a few pieces of luggage so why did we need a big car?
Our concern that we would feel a bit crowded inside the Kia Soul was thrown out the window the moment we settled inside. We had sufficient leg room both at the front and at the back. We set our son’s car seat in the middle to give him a nice view through the front or from the sides.
Having ridden part of the trip in the backseat next to my son, I know we could have comfortably accommodated another child or an adult in the back. We also had the advantage of sliding into compact parking spots which became quite handy while sight seeing in cities like Seattle and Portland.
The trunk was sufficient for holding our luggage. But for a bigger party or a longer trip, the storage would be my only concern for a Kia Soul.
When deciding on a car for our family road trip, safety was our utmost concern. Kia Soul has a safety rating of 5 (highest on a scale of 1 to 5) from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and built in features that had our safety questions answered.
Air bags are on the front as well as the sides. There is a latch system for the car seat and we could have the seat secured in the middle or on either side. The anti lock braking system would ensure that the car wouldn’t skid off road if we were to brake suddenly.
The navigation system had an emergency button where we could reach the police, hospital or roadside assistance at a touch of the screen. The current location was also displayed on the same screen to enable us to identify our whereabouts in case of an emergency. The navigation screen also functioned as the rear view camera display.
You may not think luxury when you think of a Kia Soul. But sink into the leather seats and you will think otherwise. The black leather seats feel as good as they look. The ability to heat and cool the seats made the road trip even more comfortable. During the hot summer afternoons, we felt refreshed with the ventilated seats. But when the temperature dropped at night, we stayed warm and cozy with heated seats.
If there was one thing about that car that caught all of us by surprise, it was panoramic sunroof. It helped to make this road trip an unforgettable one for our son as he was fascinated by the experience of seeing through the roof. Even we enjoyed the chance to look up and see the Space Needle or watch for big clouds forming against the deep blue sky as we drove to Crater Lake.
The power sunroof and shade combo gave us a few options for soaking up the sun. Depending on the weather we utilized them all; keeping the shade half way or full or opening up the roof completely for fresh air. We didn’t need a convertible to drive through the beautiful landscapes of towering trees and lake views with wind through our hair.
User friendly connectivity
One of the most defining features in Kia Soul was the onscreen navigation system. The screen was very large for a compact car and had a lot of great options that made it user friendly. The map highlighted the key attractions with icons and the speed limit was displayed on the side. The illustrations with upcoming exits and lane changes were clear and hard to miss. The large touch screen also made it very easy to type in the addresses.
We were able to connect both our cell phones to the Bluetooth system. The connection could be made by pressing a couple of buttons. I typically hate setting up any gadgets but surprised my husband by doing it myself. We could access any numbers on our address book and music without having any physical contact with phone. Having entertainment though iTunes and Pandora was a life saver when traveling with a toddler.
The amount of charge on the phone and the signal strength were also displayed on the screen making the Bluetooth experience 100% hands free. I simply had no reason to reach out for my phone when I was connected via Blue ooth. There were three charging ports, one for a USB and two for 12V auxiliary charges making it possible to charge multiple devices at once.
The split screen showing the directions along with what was playing on the radio was another great feature. It was very helpful not having to switch back and forth between screens when I was relying on driving directions while making sure my son’s favorite songs were queued on the play list.
We were already impressed with the sound system when I discovered the mood lighting from the speakers on the front seats. It added a little romance to our night drives as we played soft music and enjoyed the peaceful moments when our toddler napped.
When my toddler pointed out a Kia Soul at our grocery store parking lot asking when we were getting “that car” back, I realized what an impression our five days on the road had made on him.
- Luxe leather seats
- Heating and cooling system for the seats
- Panoramic sunroof
- Onscreen navigation with large touch screen
- USB/ auxiliary chargers
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Smart key with push button starter
- Type of fuel required: regular
- Fuel economy: we averaged at 28 MPG on our 1500 mile trip which took us through cities as well as a good amount of highway driving.
What you need to know
- Manufactured in Korea
- Starts at $20,300. Price for the model we drove: $26, 195, with sunroof, leather heated and ventilated front seats, navigation system, speaker mood lighting and automatic climate control.
Disclosure: The Kia Soul was provided to me for this review; I was not compensated for this review and opinions expressed are all my own.