When I asked the press fleet manager what kind of vehicle was coming here for testing this week, he answered, “Soul, man”, and it brought to mind one of my favorite old songs by Sam & Dave – “Soul Man”. It was co-written by Isaac Hayes, of “Shaft” fame, who noticed during a television newscast in the summer of 1967 that buildings left standing at the scene of the 12th Street Riot in Detroit had “soul” graffitied on them. Mr. Hayes subsequently decided that a “Soul Man” was one that could rise above present conditions; perhaps a pride thing for such an individual. “Soul Man”, the song, was a smash, and reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 list by the fall of 1967, and also garnered a Grammy Award in 1968.
Sam (Moore, the tenor) and Dave (Prater, the baritone) did pretty well for themselves, too, and performed together for twenty years. “The Sultans of Sweat”, as they were affectionately known, became members of both the Rock and Roll and Grammy Halls of Fame. Their “Soul Man” hit was one of the first songs by a black group to top the charts using the word “soul”, helping pave the way to acceptance in white, popular culture.
Like me, Kia has punctuated the Soul name with their Soul! (exclaim) offering at the top of the compact car’s lineup. It is the model I drove around in these last few days, just like the hamsters in their television advertisement. The series of ads has attracted a cult following, and it was designated “Automotive Ad of the Year” by Nielsen.
The test Soul was equipped with the premium package ($2,500), which included navigation, backup camera, satellite radio, pushbutton start, proximity keyless entry, leather (and heated front) seating, and auto climate control. The base price was $19,900, so the total M.S.R.P. came to $23,575 with the premium items and some miscellaneous equipment. Standard on this model is a moon roof, 18” specific alloy wheels, P235/45R18 Hankook Optimos, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise, power window and lock package, and privacy glass. The fold-down back seat easily seats 3 passengers, leaving a 19.3 cubic foot cargo compartment in the rear. The Infinity stereo/CD system has blinking lighted speakers in the front doors that follow the music beat.
Handling in town is nimble and somewhat fun; highway cruising is OK with a rather firm ride. Fuel economy ratings are 23-City and 28-Highway, and that is with a 4 cylinder, 164 horsepower, 2.0 liter DOHC engine. A six-speed automatic is positioned behind it with the manual mode arrangement. Curb weight is 2,700 lbs. for this front-wheel drive compact.
Styling of the Soul is a positive, and of the little “urban crossovers”, it stands out. I got several positive comments during my time with the car, but not all were as such. I like the looks of the vehicle, the equipment list, and the interior, so put me down as a fan.