Over the past year or so, I’ve gotten intimately familiar with Kia and I’ve been pleasantly surprised.
I gawked at the Kia K900 at the New York Auto Show. I fell in love with the Kia Sportage at the Mom 2.0 Summit. But it wasn’t until the National Press Launch of the Kia Cadenza that I really started to get it.
Kia was the brand that should have come and gone and yet, it’s still here and it’s thriving. But that wasn’t without some struggles along the way include the economy.
In fact, it was in 2008 that Kia first introduced the Soul, a compact boxy utility-ish vehicle that lined up with similar cars like the Honda Element, Nissan Cube, and Scion xB.
If you don’t remember 2008, it’s when everything when south. Mortgage loans were defaulting everywhere and many automakers needed government bailout. That’s also right around the time I got laid off. Twice. Yeah, not the best time to be looking to grow your company.
Eight years later, here’s Kia still doing it’s boxy thing while all of its competitors of the day are long gone. It’s not only still here, this time in the form of the Kia Soul Turbo, but it’s the subject of some pretty cool innovation that I was privy to on a media drive in San Francisco last week.
But before we get to that, let’s talk about what I was doing at a Kia Soul event. Because that’s totally a millennial car. It’s not for people like me to drive. It’s for that under 30 set looking for a car with a funky vibe. Even the information about the event threw me:
Consistent with the fun and funky nature of the Soul, feel free to dress in a casual manner.
I read that and thought that I better bring my A game when it comes to fashion. I better pull out my funnest and funkiest clothes for the event so that I look like I’m supposed to be there. And then I realized I don’t have any fun and funky clothes and got all panicked that maybe I was accidentally invited. Or maybe they didn’t realize I’m not under 30 (easy mistake to make).
It turns out that I worried for nothing because one of the biggest things I got schooled on is who’s buying the Kia Soul. It’s not millennials. Or, actually, it is but they’re not the only ones buying it. So are small families. So are empty nesters. It’s considered a “cross-generational” vehicle because it’s being consistently sold across many markets.
Phew! So I decided I could stay and experience the Kia Soul without feeling like a total poser. But the best was yet to come.
We were not only driving the Soul but the new Kia Soul Turbo which has everything I would want if I were driving this car, including:
- 1.6 L Turbo engine providing 201 hp and 195 lb-ft or torque
- 7 speed dual clutch transmission (DCT)
- Estimated gas mileage of 26/31/28 mpg – impressive!
- Power seating, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- Harman Kardon sound, lighted speakers
- UVO3 infotainment system with 8 gb music storage
And it looks cool on both the inside and out with specific signatures for the Turbo model.
But looks can be deceiving. I’ve been taken in by cool looking cars before that just don’t do it for me once I get behind the wheel. And there’s only one way to figure out if that’s the case. And that is… GET BEHIND THE WHEEL!
While most of the nation recovered from the shock of the election results, my driving partner, Alice, and I were driving up the northern coast of California thinking about how great America already is.
We hit the highs and the lows.
We took the curves and the highway.
We found the quirky.
And we did it all in comfort and style.
When Kia was still struggling to find a brand identity, they asked themselves the question how do you stand out in a sea of sameness? Inspired by a boar with a backpack, the Kia Soul was born. Many years later, it’s a car that has stood the test of time while evolving to meet the needs of its ever-changing consumers.
If you’re looking for a compact SUV full of amenities that comes in under $30k, this car with personality is one to put on your short list. The Turbo makes an amply powered, very torquey, fun to drive car on the highway or the scenic byways.
The Kia Soul Turbo starts at $22,650 but as shown here (including the tech package and panoramic package) prices at $27,630.
Can’t get enough of the California scenery? Here’s a quick glimpse of our day on the road with Kia!