Ah, the holidays. The perfect time to catch up with family. Usually that means traveling from wherever you are to wherever your family is. So, if you happen to be driving to meet your fam, might we suggest you consider using the Soul as your vehicle of choice. On a recent, holiday-inspired road trip from New York to Boston, we put a Solar Yellow 2014 Kia Soul through its paces. The results? We kinda fell in love with it. Here are six reasons why.

  1. Party Central. You gotta love a pair of speakers with a lighted rim around them. The large Infinity front door speakers are both ringed with a thin light that vacillates through a wide range of colors. You can set the speakers to provide a kaleidoscopic mood light or pulse in time to the beat of whatever you happen to being playing. During the test drive, everyone who noticed the speakers immediately called it a “party car.”
  2. Lean Back. Cars are comfortable in different ways. What’s special about the Kia Soul is that the seats actually feel like big, overstuffed, easy chairs. Yes, really. Marty Crane (the dad from “Fraizer”) would feel right at home. And so will you. The comfy, easy chair feel makes it oh-so-easy to handle long distance driving.
  3. Full Moon. More and more cars are trying out the full moon roof and we have to say: We like it in the new Kia Soul. Since the Soul is a crossover, it’s already a bit taller than your average car, which means improved visibility.  Add the “mega moon roof,” as we took to calling it, and you’ll get more light plus more viewing options. It’s especially useful for driving around Manhattan during the holidays with all the lights and decorations on display up above.
  4. Party of Five. It doesn’t look like it, but the Kia Soul can actually fit five full sized adults.  This is MUCH easier pre-thanksgiving feast than post, but you get the idea.  The ride, however, is a bit rough so, once you have your Soul packed with family, don’t drive too fast or you’re sure to feel every bump in the road. Plus, you’ll make mom mad.
  5. Danger Close. There is a high-tech computer on board the Kia Soul and this becomes more apparent as you drive. Occasionally, the car offers pertinent information like, for example, the fact that a tire is low on pressure.  That said, we couldn’t figure which tire was low without stepping out into the wintery cold. That’s a feature they might want to play with.
  6. Spin Class. We may not have been able to control the ride quality in our test drive car but we could control the steering. An easy-to-press button located on the steering wheel lets you change the steering from Normal to Comfort to Sport Mode.  Each setting gives the car a different feel.  Our fave was the comfort setting, which gets the job of steering done without making you work too hard for it.

This didn’t make our top six, be we also liked the fact that the Soul has an Android based control screen—it really feels like a cell phone—as well as useful road trip apps like Pandora. We didn’t like that there was only one USB plug beneath the stereo, though. With more than one smart phone in the car we had to take turns powering up.

Overall, the Kia Soul was surprisingly capable and more than a little fun. It starts at a very appealing $15K but the model we test drove was optioned out to $26K. It would be interesting to see how different the stock model is.

2014 Kia Soul
Miles per gallon: 24/30 city/hwy

Pricing: Starts at $14,700
Cost to fill the tank: About $43

GALLERY:
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