MM Retro-Write-Up: 2010 Kia Soul

mmcartalk

Expert
Messages
3,714
Reaction score
2,361
MM Retro-Write-Up: 2010 Kia Soul















Although my brother currently has a well-loaded, top-of-the-line Kia Sportage SX with a lot of trim and equipment on it (and, IMO, he has earned a nice vehicle, over the years, with a lot of hard work), one of the good things about him is that he has generally believed in driving what most people would consider sensible vehicles, and not buying more vehicle than he really needs. I've already written about a number of both the new and used cars he has owned, but one of the most significant, and a vehicle that he kept for a relatively long time (5 years) was his 2010 Kia Soul.

I first saw the Kia Soul displayed at the D.C. Auto Show, where it was introduced in 2008. From the first moment one laid eyes on it, it was obvious that this was a Korean attempt to cash in on the hot-selling, shoe-box-styled Scion xB, which would not win any vehicle beauty-contests, but was marvel of space efficiency, and had the reputation of Toyota/Scion quality and reliability as well. The Soul, in comparison, copied the xB's shoe-box styling (and had much of the same space-efficiency inside), but avoided what IMO was one of the xB's mistakes (a mistake that a number of small Toyotas and Scions shared)...the quirky center-mounted gauge-pod, in the middle of the dash, which housed the speedometer/tachometer and secondary gauges. Automakers which used those center-stack gauges in some of their vehicles (Toyota, Scion, Nissan, and Saturn) tried to claim, in their PR, that the center-stack design was used for safety-treasons, to keep the steering wheel from blocking the driver's view of some gauges. They never convinced me of that, though, and haven't to this day.......it was obvious, to me, that it was a cost-cutting measure, so that many of the same dash-parts could be used for left-hand vs. right-hand drive vehicles for different world-markets. Never, EVER, underestimate the attempts of auto marketers/representatives to talk BS. The Soul, in contrast, did the gauges what IMO was correctly.....in front of the driver.

However, that's not to say that the Soul didn't have some quirks of its own. One of them (and this, like the xB, reflects its strong marketing-tilt towards young people) was the glow-in-the-dark speakers for the sound system, which, at night, pulsed a varying-intensity red with the amount of thumbs, bass, and volume going into them. Obviously, it took (for the time) some fancy electronics to accomplish this, which, not surprisingly, was the subject of a safety-recall when there were some door-panel fires traced to it...my brother's Soul got one of those recalls, but did not have any fires.

My brother, at the time, was driving a 2000 Subaru Impreza 5-door hatchback, which was another very significant car in his life, as he kept that car for some ten years (I might do a story on that car later). It was about time for him to start looking for something new, and, since he wanted something with a lot of space efficiency and a low price, I suggested that he look at a Soul (back then, they started around 15K or so). I (correctly) pointed out that the days of Hyundai/Kia junk were almost a decade in the past, and that Korean vehicles, in general, had become as safe a buy (or better) as anything else. Toyota still led in reliability, of course, and I personally liked the way Scion (which was a Toyota-division) did their simple, No-Haggle deals which made vehicle-buying much easier. But, for reasons that he never really made clear, my brother just didn't like some things about Toyota and the way they operated, and we ruled out the Scion xB....also because of its center-stack gauges, which my brother didn't like, either.

So, me and my brother went out and looked at some Souls, at local dealerships. He took a liking to the vehicle, especially with its low price, decent quality, and what you got for that low-investment. They were in rather high demand at the time (my brother was obviously not the only one in this area who saw value in them), so, naturally, the dealerships did not have many in stock. He also decided that he wanted, if possible, to buy from a dealership just a couple miles from the building where he was working at that time (his company has since moved further away from D.C.), to make it easy to drop it off for service/repairs and catch a company-shuttle to and from his office. In addition, that dealership was a joint Volvo/Kia dealership that was actually owned by a politician who had been the Lieutenant Governor of the State and was now representing my brother's district in the U.S. Congress. We figured (correctly, at least for a while) that, as a both a Congressman and dealership-owner/buisnessman, he would have an image to keep, and run a tight ship.

So, we stopped by, looked at what they had in stock. For 2010, the Soul was offered in four levels....base, Plus (+), Exclaim (!), and Sport. The dealership didn't have a lot of any of the trim levels in stock, and my brother decided that the Plus version, out of the four, was probably the best overall buy for the price....the top-line Sport model looked the best inside and out, but was several thousand dollars more. The only Plus model they had in stock was a black one, with black cloth interior, N/A 2.0L four (137 HP/142 ft-lbs. of torque), and the 4-speed automatic, listing for between 16K-17K, if my memory is correct. It wasn't necessarily my brother's first color-choice, and the Plus model didn't have exactly what he would have preferred, equipment-wise (I think, if my memory is right, he also ordered a few dealer-accessories for it). But, it was reasonably close enough to what he was looking for that, after it passed his and my test-drive/inspection, we decided to talk a deal.

The deal actually went pretty well. Perhaps because of who actually owned the place (and subject to customer-complaints), we were treated very well. There was no sign of any real price gouging, and were offered a reasonable discount despite the fact that the Soul was in high demand. My brother did not trade his old Impreza (he sold it to a guy he had formally worked with)...but Kia, at that time, gave first-time-buyers an additional discount if they were moving into a Kia from previous Subaru (and some other brands) ownership. I addition, I think it was at or very near the end of the month, so there was also the usual dealer-incentives to sell as many vehicles as they could, by the end of the month, to get the manufacturer-bonus. The bottom line is that, while we didn't necessarily make out like bandits, we certainly couldn't complain about the price.

Nor could my brother complain about the service, either. For several years, until the Service Manager retired and was replaced (when it became a problem), my brother was extremely satisfied with how he was treated (and charged or not charged) in the Service Department. They not only picked him up and dropped him off at his office in the company-shuttle, but sometimes did so in the owner's Lincoln Town-Car. About the only thing they ever charged him for was oil-changes......everything else was either free or warranty-covered, especially the speaker-fire issue in the doors. For a good five years, the car was quite reliable, with only a minimum of issues. It, in effect, made my brother a Kia fan, which he still remains today.

Not that it was totally without issues or weaknesses, though. The Bluetooth phone-connection was nowhere near the quality it is on today's vehicles......I could always tell when my brother was calling me from his car, as his voice would be somewhat hollow-sounding, with a ringing sensation. The tires (Korean Kumho or Hankook tires, if I remember correctly), despite rotation and balance, got steadily noisier as the miles added up. The level of sound-insulation was not the best...which is often the case in vehicles of that price-range and design. Though my brother did not mind it, I found the seat-cushions too firm for my tastes.....an issue I noticed in a lot of lower-priced Korean and Japanese-brand vehicles. And, of course, since my brother was coming from an AWD Subaru Impreza to a FWD Soul (Subarus have what IMO is the best car-based AWD in the buisness), winter traction, despite electronic traction-aids, was simply not in the same league, especially as the tires wore. One of the Soul's weaknesses, IMO, is that to did not offer AWD in the gas versions (it did as an electric)...and still doesn't today, as that AWD role has been taken by the all-new Kia Seltos crossover. If the Soul, at the time, had offered AWD, we would have certainly chosen it....but that is a moot point today. But the lack of winter traction was a significant reason why, after five years, he traded the Soul for a new AWD Sportage LX......and he now has an even newer Sportage SX.

Some of my most memorable rides in his Soul were under less-than-ideal circumstances. I had heart by-pass surgery at the end of 2010 (just after Christmas), and my brother took me to the hospital very early in the morning...fortunately, a previously-forecasted-snowstorm for our area did not materialize that day. I was in the hospital for around six days (though the operation itself came through fine...much better and simpler than the doctors/nurses had first expected, and I avoided most of the ICU stay afterward). My brother came up to see me, in my hospital room, every night I was there. When I was discharged (on New Years' Eve), my brother, of course, took me home in the back seat of the Soul....with the right-passenger seat pushed all the way up to make room for me in the back. That showed the vehicle's good space-efficiency inside....with the front seat pushed up, I fit fine in back, both in headroom and legroom, with no problem, even with my 6' 2" frame and heavy torso/legs. The doctors had insisted I ride home in back because, with my chest wired shut and not healed after the operation, they did not want me sitting up front, near an airbag, if it were to go off and strike me. I was not allowed to drive alone, for a couple of weeks after that, for the same reason (air-bag risk)....although I healed much faster than the nurse-practitioner at the hospital had originally expected and insisted on (5-6 weeks). As someone who does auto write-ups, of course, I wasn't about to wait that long to drive again....the heck with that. The doctor who did the post-operation check-up agreed that I was ready to drive again after just a couple of weeks, and I was more than happy to get behind the wheel again.

Bless my brother....he gave up not only that second day after Christmas (December 27), but also much of his New Year's Eve time with friends that year to help me get home, after stopping, with me, on the way home, to pick up prescribed-medication for me at the drug store. He also ran a few shopping-errands for me while I was at home recuperating...although I was also learning the value of order-deliveries, at home, from pizza and Chinese-food. He had done an awful lot for me, and I was only too willing to help him find a suitable new Sportage, five years later, when it was time to go shopping again.

And, as Always, Happy-Car-Memories


MM
__________________


DRIVING IS BELIEVING
 

mmcartalk

Expert
Messages
3,714
Reaction score
2,361
The marketing was on point
Yes, I agree the hamster ads were effective (and cute). But that wasn't quite what meant in the write-up when I spoke about the marketing people talking BS. Fortunately, this didn't apply to the Soul, but I meant things like trying to cover up what was clearly a cost-cutting practice (like the center-stack gauges on some vehicles at that time) with B.S. excuses like it was done for driver-safety.....to claim something like that is an insult to people's intelligence.
 
Messages
1,712
Reaction score
2,008
Yes, I agree the hamster ads were effective (and cute). But that wasn't quite what meant in the write-up when I spoke about the marketing people talking BS. Fortunately, this didn't apply to the Soul, but I meant things like trying to cover up what was clearly a cost-cutting practice (like the center-stack gauges on some vehicles at that time) with B.S. excuses like it was done for driver-safety.....to claim something like that is an insult to people's intelligence.
So what I meant with the marketing was that the Soul hit the market with some very notable and memorable ads, and little had nothing to do with the xB, which itself was already not competitive since Toyota invested so much less in it than Kia in the Soul.
 

mmcartalk

Expert
Messages
3,714
Reaction score
2,361
So what I meant with the marketing was that the Soul hit the market with some very notable and memorable ads, and little had nothing to do with the xB, which itself was already not competitive since Toyota invested so much less in it than Kia in the Soul.

Those hamster ads weren't just on TV. At the Kia shop where my brother got his Soul, somewhat later on, after he bought his, they put a Soul in the showroom with a large ribbon/bow on it and giant stuffed-hamsters behind the wheel and in all four seats. I don't have a picture of it, but it was interesting to look at. And they were apparently riding a lot on that display, since the very small showroom could only hold one vehicle.
 

mmcartalk

Expert
Messages
3,714
Reaction score
2,361
It's interesting, too, that the Soul is a strict Kia-only product. Hyundai never marketed a version of it, at least here in the U.S.
 

suxeL

Follower
Messages
428
Reaction score
338
Drove a newer soul (dont know about MY) for a week recently, on a whim of course.
The powertrain setup was good and adequate for its size.

The interior size was absolutely cavernous compared to say a a kia forte. I had a drive mode setting mode but didnt find any in difference in reality. Did like that they offered standard Android Auto even without navigation.
 

mmcartalk

Expert
Messages
3,714
Reaction score
2,361
Drove a newer soul (dont know about MY) for a week recently, on a whim of course.
The powertrain setup was good and adequate for its size.

The interior size was absolutely cavernous compared to say a a kia forte. I had a drive mode setting mode but didnt find any in difference in reality. Did like that they offered standard Android Auto even without navigation.

Newer Souls, starting in 2014, drove noticeably better than the 1Gen models. Significant improvements in refinement, sound insulation, and comfort were made that year.
 
Messages
1,712
Reaction score
2,008
Drove a newer soul (dont know about MY) for a week recently, on a whim of course.
The powertrain setup was good and adequate for its size.

The interior size was absolutely cavernous compared to say a a kia forte. I had a drive mode setting mode but didnt find any in difference in reality. Did like that they offered standard Android Auto even without navigation.
I too rented a Soul last year (a 2018 model). Definitely I really like the Kia/Hyundai infotainment system; has Carplay/Android Auto without being too overcomplicated, and it is a system that Toyota should have done themselves since K/H benchmark Toyota for their quality pursuits.
 
Top