You might imagine how surprised I was to recently receive an email asking if I’d be interested to periodically receive cars to drive for a week-long experience to review on my blog.
At first, I scratched my head, puzzled. See, I’ve got no particular knowledge about cars, have only ever driven used cars (usually 10 years old or better!), and would probably break out in a cold sweat if you asked me to change a tire. The only thing I can say without a doubt about cars is I love to listen to the Car Talk radio show on NPR.
But apparently, my layperson’s knowledge is exactly what they were looking for. So long as I don’t have to talk technical about 4-wheel drive, engine specs, or horsepower, I’m good. And of course after I talked to my husband, he pretty much told me I needed to jump on this. And so I did. The beauty is there is no requirement about what I do with the car or say about it. I’ve pretty much got free reign, so I don’t feel at all constrained in my approach here. You’ll also notice that my husband will be helping share his opinions on the cars, too.
Now why do car reviews with you? Probably someone out there is looking to buy a car – either now or in the next few years. I hope that by reviewing these cars occasionally I can offer you the candid reviews you’d expect of a friend. I’ll mostly be reviewing family-friendly, value-based vehicles, too.
The first car they sent me? A sporty 2012 Kia Soul.
Now the first thing that I noticed about the car was the fun interior.
I think that’s what stands out to me about this car, really…. the little “touches” that make this car fun, and dare I say it? Cute even. Like this feature…
Totally random and unnecessary, but fun nonetheless…
The only remark I’d make is that these color panels are down by your legs. I wish the manufacturer would’ve incorporated more dancing colors in places you could actually see them without having to bend your body and looking down. I get that maybe there is a safety issue at play, but I still suspect something more could’ve been done.
Terry: the media center on this car was AWESOME! It integrated well with my phone offering connection through blue tooth or the USB port. As advertised, it doesn’t disappoint. (No wonder the hamsters are so happy dancing around.) For me, this is a major selling feature of the car.
(Back to Angela) OK so onto an another all-important feature for yours truly…. storage.
So I felt the trunk space was perfect for groceries! It held them in perfectly. However…
When we went to take a small overnight trip to the Oregon Coast, it took Terry quite some finagling to get our one suitcase and gear stowed away properly. This would not be such an issue if you only had two passengers, because you can lower the backseat. But in our case with a family of 4? That’s not an option. If you regularly have lots of gear to stow, this may well be something you’d want to consider.
From Terry: However, one of the surprising features was the insulated storage bin in the trunk space. Since we couldn’t fit a cooler in the trunk with our other luggage, I improvised by adding some ice to the storage bin and turned it into a makeshift cooler.
My kids pretty much adored this car. Piper loved it because it was “goldish” and sparkly. We also felt that their carseats fit in there well! (Note, this photo was taken before I properly adjusted Piper’s strap – don’t worry, we were safe!)
We also took the car on a number of adventures….
Terry and I took it to run a 5K! As you can tell from the photo, we both rocked it for our age groups (he came in 1st for his age group I came in 2nd out of 18 females in mine!).
We also took it on a short trip down to the Oregon Coast. It’s a pretty comfortable car for long distances!
It’s also very slick to drive. Again, I can’t speak with all the fancy “car jargon,” but I’ll say it was a smooth drive and the brakes were really sensitive. We both felt very safe and comfortable driving this car both in town and down the highway. It handles well.
So here’s another super fun feature of this car that deserves mentioning: when you pull into reverse, the above screen will appear on your console. I love this, and it even works at night. Suppose there is a small child or animal behind your car that you would’ve otherwise missed – this feature will help you catch it! I love it, and wish more cars would have this built in.
By the way, one of Terry’s coworkers also owns a Kia Soul! He says he loves it. Figures, fire engine red!
If you’re wondering about the price? Well, the 2013 models have already rolled out and they are starting at $14,400. If you buy new, you get the Kia Warranty, which I’ve heard amazing things about. And if you buy used? You’ve likely got a pretty good car at an affordable price. (We always buy used or through an auto auction, so I completely understand wanting to go that route.)
Final thoughts, from Angela: the car is super cute and sporty, and I feel comfortable and safe driving my family around in it. I wish that it had a bit more storage space, and I’d love it if the manufacturer could continue to develop the “fun” features of the car a bit more, such as the “Colors.” This seems like a good car for the amount of money.
Final thoughts, from Terry: did my wife happen to mention it was “fun?” Fun is written all over it from the hamster commercial to the pseudo cash cab interior. This car has young college student written all over it, however the majority of people that I see driving it are well beyond their college years. For example, the Deputy Chief at my department owns one and his wife keeps telling him he drives it like a go cart. The downside to the car is that there is no spare tire. They do offer a tire repair kit, but that doesn’t help in a pinch. I recommend getting AAA.
For more information, please visit Kia. If you have this car or have driven one before – what are your thoughts?
PS here’s the hamster video if you’ve not seen it….
Disclosure: I was not compensated to write this review, nor was I encouraged to write anything particular in this review. I truly was given free reign, so all opinions and concepts are 100% my own. I was provided with a 2012 Kia Soul to drive at no cost to me for a full week. For more information on how this site makes or does not make money, please check out my Disclosure Policy.