By on December 2, 2014

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Derek’s Grandma returns, by popular demand.

I am a very lucky lady. And I don’t say that because I have won the slots every time I have gone to Vegas. I live in the kind of comfortable circumstances than many seniors do not enjoy. I have had a fulfilling career as an educator of children and adults that I only recently gave up. I am surrounded by amazing friends and family and have been fortunate to get through 81 years without any major health problems. So it was just my luck that my brand new Honda Fit was crashed into just days after I got it.

Since the case is now in the hands of police, I can’t talk about it too much. But I was left without my new car for a week. Fortunately, everyone involved was fine, and Derek and his parents helped document the incident, get the car to the body shop and arrange a rental for me.

When Derek and I first went car shopping, he tried to show me the Soul. I dismissed it immediately. It looked far too odd for me, and truthfully, I had my heart set on the Fit as soon as I drove it. But I didn’t want a big car as my rental, and I had a choice between the Soul or a Hyundai Sonata.

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The first thing I noticed about the Soul is that it makes you sit a lot higher and more upright than the Fit. I like this. It’s easier to get in and out of, and the visibility is good – but I miss the little glass triangular windows in the Fit, that are placed ahead of the front windows. The interior of the Soul also looks a lot more like my old 2000 Civic. There’s no touch screen (something I’ve gotten used to, having had lots of practice on my Samsung tablet) and it feels a bit dated compared to the Fit. Derek tells me that most rental cars are basic, and the Soul that I had was probably a base model. But everything seemed dark and drab. I find that now that I’m used to the touch screen, it’s easy for me to use. Getting used to lots of unfamiliar buttons has turned into something that distracts me.

I also didn’t like the lack of cargo room in the Soul. Even though it seemed like a bigger vehicle, i immediately missed the space in the trunk, and the flexibility of the seats. My gentleman-friend’s walker didn’t fit in the back, and the rear seats couldn’t fold as well as the Fit to help me put it in easily.

What I did like? Power. Lots of it, compared to the Fit. The engine felt much stronger and more responsive. The Fit feels like it has one second of hesitation before it gets going. In the Soul, it was instant. The visibility and the higher seating will be two things I miss. I even came around to the looks of the car. It’s cute and easy to find in a parking lot.

If I had a bit more money to spend, then a Soul with more features and equipment than my rental would have been nice. But I’m happy with my Fit, and even happier to be back on the road in my own car.

Derek’s Grandma provided the rental car, gas and insurance. Photos and editing courtesy of Derek.

 

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59 Comments on “Grandma Review: 2014 Kia Soul...”


  • avatar
    petezeiss

    So glad you weren’t injured!

    Your impressions of the Soul are exactly what mine are relative the Fit. And I also love those little forward windowlets on the Fit.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      Can you actually see anything through those small, angular windows? I thought they were just a styling feature, to avoid what this site has termed “DLO fail.” To me, those windows are a sign that the windshield is angled too acutely for regular side windows to work.

      This is a good little review, but it depresses me. Though I’m 20 years younger than the writer, I’m the one who hates touch screens and triangular windows. I wonder how many tattoos she has — I hate those, too. If octogenarians go for these baubles and bling, there really is no hope for mankind.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Derek, I said it before and I must say it again. This gal can write! Being fairly senior myself, I think it would add depth to the site to have the perspectives of the boomer and earlier folks occasionally. And you’ve got a gem there if she’ll only agree to it.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Grandma made some very astute observations. I mentioned this in yesterday’s Fit review, the Soul’s seat folding system is incredibly primitive and inefficient. In order to get a flat load floor, you must use Kia’s extra cargo tray in the trunk, which eats up 6 of the available 24 cu ft of seat-up space. Talk about lazy engineering! Kias aren’t bad cars, they just are missing that thorough thoughtfulness that Hondas typically have, particularly in the realm of space utilization. The rental 1.6/6A car I had rode pretty poorly (both poor body control along with harsh impacts), and struggled to get 28mpg with steady 71mph highway driving.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      Also, no spare tire. I’ve changed enough spares to be wary of cars that don’t offer a spare sans runflats.

      • 0 avatar
        SC5door

        Seems to be the “thing” now to not include a spare. When my friend ordered his CTS, he had to spec for a mini-spare. When Mom bought her Soul, I asked about the spare. He showed me the fix-a-flat kit but it was no deal unless they tossed in the spare tire kit. So she carries the air compressor (minus the fix-a-flat) and the spare in the car.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          There was a spare tire delete option when I ordered my 2015 Challenger, so I chose it. I got a fix a flat kit in it’s place and a bit more trunk space.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            I can’t be bothered with spare tires. Half of my cars have no spare from the factory, the other half have spares so old that I wouldn’t trust them on the car anyway. And in this era of distracted driving, no way am I changing a tire on the side of the road anyway. AAA is but a phone call away.

            And I have not had a flat on the road since 1989.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    “I live in the kind of comfortable circumstances than many seniors do not enjoy.”

    I like Grandma Kreindler’s writing but at least in the dog-eat-dog, capitalist hell-hole south of the border people over 55 have substantially higher net worth than people under 55.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      True, but like everything else here, the gap between affluent and non-affluent seniors is growing.

      http://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/articles/2012/05/21/poverty-increasing-among-retirees

      Unfortunately, I expect this to get a LOT worse as more and more baby boomers retire.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      It’s not exceptionally different here, although from what I understand, a lot of that net worth is locked up in one’s home (certainly, here in Toronto, if you own your home, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be sitting on $500k-one million, easily).

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    It’s been a while since I have been in a car with a little red dot matrix display. I wonder how many would be choosing the Element instead of the Soul or Fit if it were still around today (assuming they fixed the MPG issue, because geez.)

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Nicely written!

  • avatar
    insalted42

    I love these Grandma reviews, I’d really like to see more!

    Really glad no one was injured in the accident, as well!

  • avatar
    goyshahomer

    Hi Derek,
    Recently followed you on twitter. Really enjoy your posts and articles. I’m patiently waiting for another update on your Mazda3. Do you think the Mazda is a good choice for a fam of 4?

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      “Do you think the Mazda is a good choice for a fam of 4?”

      As long as the people in the back don’t have legs, you should be fine.

      • 0 avatar

        You have to go to the dealer and see. My youngest cousins are 11 and 8 years old and out of car seats. They don’t complain, but I think that also comes down to just being excited to go in the back of a new car.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          In pinches, it wouldn’t be a problem. I’ve gone places with four or five adults in a Focus or Golf. It is doable. I’m 6’4″, so no one is going to want to sit behind me, for any significant time, in any compact car.

    • 0 avatar
      SP

      If you have 2 small kids, I would strongly recommend that you look at the Mazda5. The utility of the sliding doors is such a big upgrade for families with kids, and there is much more cargo space than in a 3 hatch.

      We test drove the 3 and the 5 and liked the 5 better as it drives about as well, but is more airy inside.

      It’s true that the 3 was just updated and received safety improvements. On the other side, the 5 has big discounts that make it much cheaper than the 3 hatch.

      Also, you could look at a Ford C-Max, which is steeply discounted to about $22k right now.

    • 0 avatar
      Slow_Joe_Crow

      YMMV, I just rented a Mazda2 and my son and daughter are now the same height as my wife and I and we got all the people to fit fine but luggage was a challenge. On the plus side it was fun to drive with basic conveniences.

  • avatar
    ellomdian

    I wish there were more “real world, non-enthusiast” reviews like this I could throw at my friends when they want car-buying advice.

    Well written, and glad you are safe (and back in your own car!)

  • avatar
    goyshahomer

    Ha. That’s the problem. I want a nice, small fuel efficient car but the backseats are terribly small. We have two kids, both in carseats which extends their little legs right into the back of my seat (I am almost 6ft) 300 lbs. My wife has a Prius, which is a little bigger, not by much.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I think you are going to have that problem with almost everything in the compact segment.

      Kids will figure out how to kick the seat in front of them even if it is on a minivan. My daughter will push her feet up against the seatbacks of our MkFlex, and that car will fit four six footers comfortably. Honestly, the best bets for family cars are compact CUVs, midsized sedans, or minivans. It just depends on your family size and needs.

      People will tell you a compact hatch/wagon is just as good for a family as a small CUV, but they are wrong. I used to be one of them. We were a two “hot hatch” home with a VW GTI and Focus ST. Now, I drive a weird hybrid, and my wife drives a giant CUV.

      • 0 avatar
        goyshahomer

        what weird hybrid do you drive?

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          Our friend bball rocks a C-Max.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Yes, Dave is correct and I drive a C-Max (that is currently rocking winter tires). I actually think Dave’s ride is also a good car for a small family. The Verano has decent back seat space.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Ooh, what kind of tires?

            As an as!de, the Verano issues are finally coming to a head, and I am sharpening my word processor so the fine folks of TTAC can have a very thorough update on one of the current mainstream unicorns.

            I’ll give you a sneak peak though. I hate driving this car in most any low speed situation. It has a turning circle the size of the Death Star. The rental Sonata I had during hail damage repair, a quantifiably bigger car, was so much easier to park and manoeuvre. The Verano is terrible in this regard.

            Its especially annoying because its hard to pick up on in a test drive.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Nothing fancy, just the new Blizzaks. They were an upgrade over the Firestone Winterforce tires I had on my previous Focus/C-Max the last three winters. On 15″ wheels, the winter tire selection is great and excellent tires are only a few bucks more than good tires.

            I’m guessing the Verano may have a huge turning radius for the same reason the Focus Titanium handling package/ST has a horrible turning radius; a steering limiter. To keep the big rubber from rubbing, the limiters extended the turning radius from 36′ to 40′.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Nice. Winterforce are good deep snow tires but less good on dry pavement and also ice/hardpacked snow. WS80’s are an excellent tire.

            And yes, downsizing for winter is just smart. 16 inch was the smallest I could go due to brakes clearance, but its makes a huge difference in cost.

            Regarding the turning circle, I would happily have had the car come with 215s if only it was easier to maneuver. Parking lots and parallel parking become exercises in multi-point turns, its extremely frustrating. Its not like the Verano NEEDS 235s for its mad handling, yo!

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Winterforce are great for the money. I recommend them to anyone on a budget. They will certainly be cheaper, with a set of steelies, than an insurance deductible.

            It was a PITA for me to get my regular wheels off my C-Max this year. I think they corroded to the hubs. I had to seek the help of a tire professional. Damn alloy wheels.

            Again with the turning circle, I felt the same way about the Focus. 160 HP, 235 width tires. Craziness. At least, unlike the GTI, the wheels did not weigh as much as the moon.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            In all honesty, if I had known how terrible the Verano is to drive in a parking lot prior to purchase, it would be enough to have made me look elsewhere.

            We don’t think about it regularly, but we spend a lot of time doing this on any given day!

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I just imagine you doing three point turns to get the Verano into parking spaces.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            In a narrow drive aisle, as close to the opposite row of cars as possible the procedure is:

            Angle in, reverse and re-orient, pull in fully.

            You got it.

      • 0 avatar
        z9

        The problem with kids is that they can grow very quickly to use up all available space in any back seat. So a car that was fine for the 11-year-old is suddenly not fine for the 15-year-old. I say this as the 6’4″ parent of a 6’5″ kid.

        If you still want a small car you can use height to compensate for lack of length to some extent. The C-Max does this fairly well for us, so it might be worth considering. Be sure you’re OK with its semi-trailer-esque turning radius however. Definitely not what you’d expect for a “smaller” car.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          I was 6’2″ in the 7th grade. My parents cars were an early Porsche 911 (Mom) and a ’77 Grand Prix SJ (StepDad). Exactly no f*cks were given as to my and my kid brothers comfort level in the back seat.

          Being squeezed into the back of a 911 was infinitely better than walking in a Maine winter, which was my other transportation option. Or just stay home. Modern parents baffle me.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Yeah, and I rode in the back of tiny Renaults, or in the front of a pickup cab with no chest belt. That doesn’t make it the only or best way.

            Right now, it’s more for me. Have you ever tried to get a child out a car seat in a Fiat 500 or Ford Fiesta? I have, and it is terrible. I know they may be family cars in Europe, but that’s Europe’s problem, not mine.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I rode in the back of an early 90s Dynasty. This trumps small Porsche seat or Renaults, because I never knew when it was going to die in the middle of an intersection, etc, and had constant fear of being t-boned.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            My mother had a Dodge Spirit R/T for awhile. It died when a sem-truck turned left from the right lane, over the hood of the Spirit. The K-car didn’t stand a chance.

        • 0 avatar
          05lgt

          “You can use height to compensate…”

          No you can’t. You need a Corvette to do that.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s subjective. My family of origin drove all over Europe in the mid-’60s in a Peugeot 404 wagon which is about the size of all but late model Foresters, 3 kids, me 12, my brother 15, and my sister, 3, and parents. We had a blast. Yeah, a modern minivan would have been more comfortable and luxurious, sure.

    • 0 avatar
      SP

      Consider a used last-gen Nissan Versa hatchback. The rear seat has AMAZING legroom. I nearly bought one, but decided on the Mazda5 instead.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Previous generation Versa is a solid suggestion.

        We have a previous generation Kia Rondo. One of my buddies is 6′ 10″ and severely limited in the autos that he can buy and/or ride in. Back in the ’70’s we pulled the passenger side front seat out of a mini and he could just ride in the back seat. Used to shock people watching him unfold out of it. He fits nicely in the Rondo and when we let him try driving it, we were still able to fit my 6’2″ son behind the driver’s seat without discomfort.

        Of course minivans are still the champions when it comes to interior capacity. Particularly those that have adjustable 2nd row seats.

  • avatar
    oldowl

    Looking forward to your review of the Jeep Renegade when it’s available. Also, next time please use a name or user name–now that you’re famous.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    “What did I like? Power. Lots of it!”

    Get her a Mustang GT for the next rental, Derek (hopefully under better circumstances)!

  • avatar
    Travis

    Listen up automakers, you know DLO fail is a big deal when even grandma can point it out.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    It is so nice to get a perspective that mature individuals can relate to. I have extracted this article and link and sent it to three of my mature friends from church who are looking to buy a new vehicle to get about town; a vehicle that fits the senior lifestyle.

    Sorry to learn about the Fit. Hope it will be alright now that it is fixed.

  • avatar
    1998redwagon

    well written, nice perspective. i’d read another grandma review.

    derek why not try this……. have reviews of the same car by reviewers at opposite ends of the spectrum be it age or sex or demographics? we all might learn something.

  • avatar
    goyshahomer

    How do you like the ford c-max hybrid? I have heard mixed reviews.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I really like my C-Max. It is a car that has some compromises, but overall it is a very good product.

      It’s biggest problem is that no one really knows what it is. It’s not quite a CUV, but it’s bigger than a hatchback. It gets 40+ MPG, but the Prius is the king of fuel economy. It is fun to drive compared to similar vehicles (hybrids and compact CUVs), but it’s not THAT fun to drive. The one thing it does very well is carry 1-4 people places in comfort with very good fuel economy.

      For a small car, it is roomy, airy, quiet, and bright. It’s IP, seats, dash, etc is all Ford parts bin; take it or leave it. It’s probably 2/3 Escape and 1/3 Focus with a dash of extra Hybrid stuff on the inside. I personally like MFT and Ford switches, guages, etc.

      The only thing I wish I could change, aside from leather in my selected package, is the raised load floor in the trunk due to the battery. It looks like a compromise, and if you pack your hatch too full, things may fall upon opening the it (groceries or (gasp) beer). It’s too bad Ford did not bring over the ICE powered C-Max and Grand C-Max. That would fix the raised load floor. I was looking forward to both. We have the Transit Connect now, but the C-Max is much more upscale and civilized.

      I like my C-Max enough that I plan on driving it for a couple hundred thousand miles or so. There are two things that may keep me from doing that: Mustang GT350 and the posibility of a Fusion ST/Sport. A Fusion ST with the 2.7TT and AWD will get me to buy a car.

  • avatar
    readallover

    Derek, cannot wait for Grandma`s review of the Corvette and Hellcat.

  • avatar
    darex

    Ironically, the Soul with its 8″ touchscreen probably blows the Honda system out of the water in every way. Too bad she didn’t experience it.

  • avatar
    superchan7

    Derek, glad your grandmother was not injured.

    Sounds like her assessment of the Soul is that it’s a thoroughly competent car, no longer short on anything really. It’s better than the Fit in some areas but not in others. Similarly equipped, these competitors are basically down to personal preference.

  • avatar
    mitchw

    Speculating from Derek’s grandma’s description, her new Fit was struck while stationary and unoccupied: I mean some drunk/textbot drove into it while it was parked. Also, I rise in admiration of an owner whose new car is already bent, but she does not complain or sob or demand from the heavens to know, ‘WHYYYYY!!!’

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    I didn’t much care for the Kia Soul I had for a long distance (over 1,000 miles) rental. It wasn’t as good as other Kias I’ve rented. I liked the appearance and I thought it had also really grown on me by the time I turned it in. The lack of covered storage was an issue with me, too.

    Mostly I disliked its driving dynamics. The car had little on-center feel. That’s unnerving when you are on the highway. Some reviewer once described it as having a “flinty” ride. That sums it up. Not a a showstopper, but not good, either.

    I hadn’t thought of it, but yeah, the upright seating was a plus.

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