Calloway Cars gave us a chance to try out their latest Aero edition of the C7 Chevrolet Corvette Areowagen, which opened our eyes to this all-American automotive customizer.
It is interesting to hear the history as well as the intense involvement that Calloway has with this vehicle and other General Motors products like the Tahoe, Suburban, Escalade, and Yukon, not to mention the Camaro and Sierra/Silverado pickups. While the firm was founded on a simple modification for BMW race cars.
Callaway started customizing vehicles the way many do, with passion and need for faster cars. Reeves Callaway, who with a passion and talent for auto racing, being voted the best of the new crop of SCCA drivers in the early 1970’s, turned the garage of his Connecticut home into a shop constructing a turbocharger system for his own racecar. A Car and Driver article propelled him to be sought after by professional and amateur racers alike, from which a business was created that has grown and continues today.
Callaway’s products have since become a General Motors factory installed options, as well as a whole line of customized cars that are sold, and warranted by GM as original equipment. Being one of the only automotive aftermarket suppliers that provide products that can be ordered directly on the sales floor of a dealership that qualifies for both a factory and a Callaway warranty.
The Callaway Corvette
Take a factory C7 (or many of the models prior to that) and make it faster, and more aerodynamic and you have the Aero C7, with the supercharger, intercooler engine management systems as well as other upgrades including intake and exhaust.
Our drive experience was tame, being on suburban roads. The Vette purred like a kitten and growled when asked. While the car could be mistaken for a standard off the dealer lot model. Driving it you knew the power and performance were but the touch of an accelerator pedal away.
Inside only some simple badging distinguished it as a Callaway product. Outside the rear hatch had been converted into almost a wagon or Sportback.
The A5 Coupe that Audi of America provided for us to attend the Hero Fund America Road Rally in update New York was an easy and fun car to drive, and one we would not mind as part of our daily fleet. Well balanced with tight comfortable handling was one reason. Easy on the budget and on the eyes, this car is just fun in every way possible. Seriously! I can see why so many young professionals become Audi customers.
Audi, which has long been the luxury brand for the people’s car brand Volkswagen. Though when you look at the history of Audi, it is often as much a contender in high-speed road rallies with their competent all-wheel drive and fuel-efficient engines, tight handling chassis, as it is as a luxury car.
Light and nimble in handling was what I first experienced behind the wheel, it was not long before I realized I was going way over the speed limit, the A5 is effortlessly FAST!
Where to start on the technology on this vehicle? It is more than just the dashboard. While having detailed GPS is considered standard in upmarket vehicles, Audi’s just is so much more vivid and attractive. The incredible detail in the display of the Google Earth-based navigation system immediately grabs your attention. Similar to the difference between early black and white TV and today’s 4-K video from what other onboard automotive GPS systems display. Does it provide more information, probably not, but visually it is more pleasing. And it does not stop there, the dash of the A3 was as well detailed as any high-performance jet plane just more luxurious.
Following in the other high-line German vehicles Audi has a handwriting pad area as well as a “knob” to command the center console screen. While the writing feature is not easy, as my handwriting is terrible – anyone who has signed a screen for a credit card knows how hard it is to make handwriting legible. In this day of voice recognition and artificial intelligence, the spoken words are about as good, I suppose after training the AI within the vehicle you might have more success than I did
Sculpted Exterior Design
Subdued and classic, while Audi has never been known for flourishes, the smooth and clean sculpted lines of this A5 Coupe are elegant and graceful, while not all that eye-catching with added extras. And that is not a bad thing, as the lines are purposeful and elegant defining a very well proportioned body.
Ride and Handling
We took the 2018 Audi A5 Quattro Coupe on a 900-mile drive from Washington DC to Sharon Springs NY and back through back roads, highways as well as city streets, and even unpaved country lanes. Every mile was a delight as the A5 was nimble and fun to drive. The ride, while this is a sports coupe, it was still comfortable, with even on the washboard lanes of the New York Throughway. Road-hugging as the four drive wheels gripped the pavement. The all-wheel drive was nimble with a tight turning radius making the A5 feel smaller than it actually is.
Inside well laid out instruments, comfortable seats with thigh extenders in a spacious cabin for the driver and front passenger as well as trunk. Though not for those who would have to squeeze into the rear seat. While this is a roomy coupe, the rear seating would be tough for anyone larger than a child.
As one would expect in a car at this level it had an exceptional Bang & Olufsen sound system. Even with a CD player hidden in the glovebox, the audio system provided all the modern amenities with satellite radio as well as Bluetooth and USB inputs from a smartphone brought into the vehicle.
The A5 ran a powerful 2.0 liter 252 hp i4engine and 7-speed Quattro all-wheel drive and provided 33 mpg average over the thousand mile trip.
With all the love here the only thing we found annoying was that with the start/stop engine cutoff, that happens at stop lights, the power steering would become stiff until the engine restarted. And with all the other great things this A5 Coupe had to offer, that was something we could overlook.
We loved our week in the Audi A5 Coupe. It was fun to drive, stylish, and comfortable. With plenty of power, we found ourselves zipping along more often than not. Even in the slowest of traffic, the Audi A5 was a delight to be driving. This is a car that would be a first pick for a car to drive every day.
Little cars are back in a big way, be it because people do not want to spend a lot, or they do not need much more than fun transportation. The New Nissan Kicks is now on sale and steps in a field of outdated competitors with a lot of safety, looks, and room for the price.
Nissan is known for Sport Utility Vehicles and Crossovers from the larger than life Armada, family hauler, Pathfinder, classic Cross over’s Rogue, Murano and Rogue Sport. Now a little brother has joined the lineup for 2018, the new Nissan Kicks. It is new, and not a replacement for the recently departed Nissan Juke, which is still available in other world markets.
What is new with the Kicks?
Smart styling and expressive design, with colors that POP out in a quick little four-door hatchback. We love it that automakers are bringing back COLOUR as a major part of the styling of their vehicles. The Kicks has bright, expressive color choices, blacked out pillars and the option of five different two-tone contrasting roof color choices, which brings this small crossover to life. Add Nissan’s Color Studio options which bring about even more excitement to the exterior. Built on the Versa Note platform, with the signature V-Motion Grill, boomerang lights, and floating roof, this may be a little car on the outside, but on the inside, it is very spacious, even in the back seats with front passengers, and has an amazing amount of cargo room.
Standard on all trim levels of Nissan Kicks is Automatic Emergency Braking, which you will not find on other small CUV competitors even as an option. Available as an option Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Alert, and Intelligent All-Around View® Monitor, a 360-degree camera option. All safety items you can afford are worth the investment.
Kicks is a front-engine, front wheel drive platform with Nissan’s 1.6- Liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder engine with continuously variable valve timing. Producing 128 horsepower @5800 RPM, 115 lb-ft of torque @ 4000 RPM connected to Nissan’s Xtronic transmission®, a continuously variable transmission (CVT) provides Kicks with class-leading fuel mileage with 31 city, 36 highway, and 33 combined.
Independent strut front, multi-link independent rear suspension, both with twin tube shocks and a stabilizer bar provide Kicks a solid ride for a short wheelbase vehicle. All Kicks come with ventilated front disc and rear drum brakes with ABS, Electronic Brake Force Distribution and brake assist.
What Drivers and Passengers Will Appreciate & May Not
No question the Kick’s easily accessible and visible 7” touchscreen to control the audio. Large symbols make It is easy to read. Some of the drop-down menus can be confusing and hard to find again. To prevent finger smudges a screen protector on the glass, as you can apply to a tablet would be a helpful addition. (This should not be hard to find an item in a local electronics store, custom cutting, installing, and fitting it is the hardest part.)
Standard Bluetooth streaming audio with available Apple Car Play and Android Auto is almost a necessity today in any vehicle. Only the front USB port (there are three easily accessible USB ports in the Kicks,) direct wires into that desirable technology.
Bose® Personal Plus Audio System with 360 degrees of immersible sound, available on SR Premium Package. (While it was good, only the driver’s headrest has the built-in speakers. You may want to explore the Rockford Fosgate® Audio System for $595 as an option.) I was not enamored with the Personal Plus’s sound quality, for a Bose system, while it is pretty darn good, I expected it to be a bit better. I did not get to experience the Rockford Fosgate®; the large rear cargo area-mounted sub-woofer is where the optional $195 Cargo Load Floor may interfere with it.
While the standard seating upholstery has a diamond pattern stitched in, the more upscale Perma-Tex™ seats have little decoration. To many, the diamond stitching can be perceived as a higher level of trim.
The expansive back seat and cargo area is a big plus in a small car; I would want to add $200 interior accent lighting, or the $555 interior electronics package, as it is hard to see the interior door handles and lock and window switches at night with a black interior.
While the driver’s seat has a fold-down center armrest, the right front passenger seat does not, nor do we see a spot for an optional one to be attached to the seat back.
Closed compartments are not a Kicks thing, there is a glovebox, but the openings on the doors and trays on the center console are open, while you can get $45 optional rubber mats for those.
No spare tire, while there is a well under the cargo, it is filled with a Styrofoam block that holds the jack and inflator kit. Weight reduction and quality of the modern Firestone Tires are no doubt a consideration in not providing a spare.
The optional $211.29 rear cargo cover and $195 cargo load floor are handy but seem easily damaged or could end up as part of the stash of junk in the garage. Though turning over the cargo load floor it looked useful to hold shopping bags in place, but not if you had the sub-woofer in the back.
The Nissan Kicks is made in Mexico and the basic model, the S starts at $17,990, $19,690 for the SV, $20,290 for the SR (more of a sports package), and $21,290 for the SR with a premium package that includes the Bose® Personal Plus 8-Speaker sound system, Perma-Tex™ appointed seats, heated front seats, and a security system. A $975 destination charge, taxes and tags. Minus any incentives, you may be offered from the dealer or through an organization you belong to such as AAA, Costco, USAA, or a buying service. The SR Premium model I found most desirable with optional rear sonar, and interior ambient lighting came to $23,720. Build a Nissan Kicks for yourself.
Kicks are all about fun; this little four-door is a great get up and go vehicle. While its trendy styling may be more youth-oriented, Fun Grannies and Grandpop will be attracted to this easy to drive, economical, roomy, small crossover. We found it light and easy to drive, with plenty of power and pickup, tight turning radius and great visibility. The Kicks is a very light vehicle at 2672 lbs curb weight, while it handled well on a hot breezeless summer’s day, I would want to try it on the interstate during a Spring wind.
If you are like many, you never want to spend too much money. Alternatively, if you don’t have much dough to spend in the first place, keeping the purchase price to a minimum is a major factor in the buying process. With car purchases being a big chunk of change. What do you do, when you want a nice car but don’t want to spend a fortune?
You think “Previously Owned Automobile,” a nice way of saying “Used Car.” Even then it is going to set you back around twenty G’s. With the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta at under $19K, you can think new as an alternative. With Jetta’s starting price of an S model at $18, 545 (add on the $450 driver assistance package, because it could save your life.)
However, is an under $19K car worth buying?
With the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta, you get more car for the money than if you bought the same 2018 model. VW has re-engineered the seventh generation Jetta under the MQB Platform making this sedan even better value than ever before.
The VW Jetta was born 40 years ago as the next step up from the Golf (Rabbit as it was known in the USA.) That Golf/Rabbit replaced the much-beloved Beatle in the mid-1970’s. In that time Jetta has become one of the most successful sedans with worldwide sales of more than 17.5 million, 3.2 million sold in the USA alone.
Base Model Jetta
How good is the lowest priced 2019 Jetta S? We loved the fact that you could get it in a 6-speed manual. Maybe it was because of the oddity of a manual transmission, but more as we drove it and its more upscale brothers. VW interpreted their lowest trim level of the Jetta in much the same way they started out as a car company, which is how it came to the US in the 1950’s. VW provided a basic, well-engineered car, that was a bit out of the ordinary. While today the Jetta may no longer be out of the ordinary, as VW now conforms to the pack with design and fluid-cooled engines.
The S gives you much of what the more expensive Jetta trim levels have to offer, without the cost. While it does skimp on a few things, they are not all that impossible. Cloth Seats, a single USB and the 6.5-inch center screen are noticeable but not a hard stop. For example, there is a real key, while it is a modern switchblade key, not some radio-wave thing that you never know what to do with once inside the car. The other models have remote keys with push-button start. Eco-driving mode, because when you are cheap from the get-go, you want to run with it. Other features that score one in the wallet like 16” alloy wheels and tires. Real 16” alloy wheels, not steel wheels with plastic hubcaps, so it does not look less expensive.
You Get A Lot In The S
You get what the other trim levels have on the Jetta: More headroom, knee room, and shoulder room than the previous generation. Trunk space is 14.1 cubic feet, and split-folding rear seats (60/40) are standard. Jetta for 2019 has a 1.4 Turbo-charged 4-cylinder engine with 147hp, 184 ft-lbs of torque, which runs on regular 87 octane gasoline, this is the same engine for all trim levels. Standard LED lights all around multi-function wheel, car-Net-App-Connect (that connects to Apple Carplay and Android Auto). Moreover, safety features like automatic post-collision braking. Add to that VW’s People First Warranty, a best-in-class 6-year/72,000-mile with bumper-to-bumper coverage (See VW for limited warranty details), that can be transferred to subsequent owners. Not much is optional on the base S Trim Level: Start/Stop which is a fuel saver and an 8-speed automatic with Tiptronic and sport mode.
Take an S trim level 2019 Volkswagen Jetta for a drive, if, for nothing more than the manual transmission, you will be surprised with what $18,995 (plus a low $850 delivery fee, then local taxes and tags) buys.
Why would anyone drive a Pickup Truck? Why NOT? Nothing says power like being behind the wheel of a pickup truck. Nothing says tough guy, like cruising in a four-wheel drive pickup truck! The absolute utility of being able to haul stuff and people at the same time is a game changer.
We took a week in the 2018 Ford F-150, America’s best-selling pickup. Get scruffy or all dolled up this Pickup is ready to roll for all occasions.
The F-150 Lariat, a mid-line trim level pickup is not the basic work truck, nor is it the high-horsepower sport monster that is the Ford Raptor. The four-door Super Crew Cab provides plenty of room for five full-size adults, with bucket seats in the front and seating for three in the rear with 60/40 fold-up second-row seats provide seating and or cargo space in the rear of the cabin.
Inside the cab
Interior space is more than you might expect, from the storage bin in the center console between the front seats big enough to stow a lunch box or laptop. Door-mounted map pockets or fold up one side of the rear seat to use the area underneath to hide things away. The 10-way power heated and cooled leather-trimmed driver and passenger seats are wide enough for the burliest of guys and soft enough to cuddle the gals. Adjustable pedals with memory help the driver no matter how long their legs might be.
Nothing about the interior of the F150 says spartan work truck. With soft touch plastics surrounding the cabin, a plush carpet and leather trim give the truck a luxury feel. Easy to read gauges, both digital and analog with switches and controls at easy reach make piloting this rig a piece of pie. It is the little things like a heated leather steering wheel and heated and cooled seats, both welcome when the weather turns.
Onboard Tech – We really liked
Everyone wants tech what they drive today. The 8-inch center stack touch screen provides access to the Sync Connect system which integrates easily whatever mobile device you bring on board. Our test truck was equipped with the $1395 Technology Package, which included the 360-degree camera with a split-view display showing all around the truck. Video resolution is clear. This linked into Ford’s Active Park Assist, which self-parks this big truck an inch or two from the curb. As well as Ford’s Lane-Keeping System, letting you know if you were straying from the lane you are driving in.
An all-new Bang & Oleson PLAY™ Premium Audio System by HARMAN is available. SYNC® Connect. B&O long a leader in sound systems backed by Harman’s engineering for automotive premium audio systems provides a concert hall experience in a pickup truck. Thes voice-activated system lets you talk instead of fiddle with knobs.
Automotive security systems are nothing new, Ford’s perimeter security system an advanced security package impressed us. Not only if someone tried to open the doors but once armed the truck as a whole was secure, even with windows open, so if someone were to reach in and grab, the truck responded.
Remote Start from the key fob has always seemed to be just a gimmick, but it is helpful when you want the heat or air conditioning on when you get into the truck.
Today we bring with us more than just our cell phone. So having power outlets including a 110/400w outlet powered by an inverter are great to have inside the truck.
Lighting both inside and out
Fog lamps and Side mirror mounted spotlights illuminate what you may want to see on or beside the road. While ambient lighting inside the truck provides a warm glow when you want. LED cargo lighting in the bed of the pickup is a big help when loading cargo in the dark.
In all this F-150 4X4 provides all the towing and hauling capacity you could want. One of the options was trailer sway control along with ClassIV hitch and smart trailer tow connector dynamic hitch assist.
Think of how you will use a pickup, which helps you choose a bed length. Ford offers 5.5, 6.5, and 8 feet on the F-150. Ours was the shorter of the three with 52.8 cubic feet of cargo space. 8-foot bed – when you need to bring home those roses from the garden store. Having the spray in bed liner (as opposed to a drop in liner) is a nice and clean addition that protects the bed’s paint.
You know you want a Pickup Truck
There are a number of trim levels you can choose in an F150: XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch,® Platinum, Limited, and the muscle truck, Raptor. Our Lariat test truck was equipped with enough luxury and eco-boost power for every day or long hall driving.
Show Me The Money
F150 Prices start at $27,705 and go on from there. Our truck stickered out at just around $50K. With a variety of incentives from Ford and groups you may belong to, such as Costco or a buying service connected to an association, insuarnce company or financial institution, you can get a great deal on a heck of a pickup truck.
Formula E Racing completes the 2018 eleven-city tour on July 14 & 15 by returning to Brooklyn’s Red Hook, for the second year, running on a purpose-built closed 14-turn, 2.373 Km long street course. The Panasonic Jaguar Race team will go into the New York Race in fifth place, with drivers Mitch Evans and Nelson Piquet Jr. at the wheel of a Jaguar I-Type 2 race car.
Formula Racing, thought of more as an international event, racing in cities like Monaco, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, has found its way to the USA once again. Racing has always been a way automakers test vehicles and components to build better street vehicles as well as promoting the brands. Over the past four years, Formula E Racing has helped promote and develop the technology used in the modern-day world of electric vehicles by brands like Jaguar, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, and others.
While Jaguar has historically been involved in auto racing, they returned to racing in October 2016 by being the first premium manufacturer to join ABB FIA Formula E series with an I-Type 1 racecar and have plans already confirmed for an I-Type 3 car for next year’s series.
This year’s I-Type 2 electric racecar has a 0 to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds with a top speed of 140 mph. powered by a 200 kWh McLaren built battery, and charged by a sustainable glyercine fuel source. The car produces 270 bhp in qualifying mode and runs at 180 kWh producing 240 bhp in an energy saving race mode. The I-Type 2 racecar has a completely new powertrain, including motor, inverter, gearbox, cooling system and brake by wire, replacing last season’s mechanical brake system. In all 219 components have been changed from the original I-Type 1 car. While the batteries are charged prior to running the race, the driver adjusts the brake pads from within the car to get the best regenerative braking power available.
Formula E Racing
Formula E is the world’s first electric street racing series powered by renewable energy with a focus on developing electric vehicle powertrains. To control costs, all of the race cars share common components including the carbon fiber chassis and battery. The team and manufacturers can customize their own powertrain, which includes the motor, transmission, inverter, rear suspension, and software to maximize speed and endurance.
Electric vehicles are as fast on the track as they are in the planning and development stage. FIA Formula E cars are proposed, prepared, tested and qualified in a short five-month period prior to the opening of each season. With one-day races, they get just 2 to 3 practice sessions to qualify for each race.
Formula E is disrupting the boundaries of motorsports with a focus on technology, innovation, and sustainability, as well as spectator entertainment. Environmentally friendly and clean electric vehicles show how sustainable transportation can be the key to lowering air pollution in urban centers and lessening global emissions. The series is committed to reducing the carbon footprint with improved efficiencies by powering the races by 100% renewable energy by next season.
Electric Production Racing Car – The Jaguar I-Pace eTROPHY Street E-Racecars
When the Jaguar I-PACE, a fully electric four-door hatchback, goes on sale later this year, the brand will be the first to have both a Formula E race team and a road going production EV available to consumers. Both the Jaguar I-PACE and the current I-TYPE 2 Formula E racecar use shared technologies. Similarities include the use of high-efficiency permanent magnet electric motors and pouch battery cell technology for maximum powertrain performance.
While the actual FIA Formula E Grand Prix Race takes up only a portion of the four-day stop in each city, an eTROPHY Street E-Race series is being initiated with next year’s 5th season starting in December of 2018. Jaguar is participating with 20 identically set up I-Pace racecars designed, engineered and built by Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations.
The I-Pace eTROPHY is an all-wheel drive with front and rear synchronous motors for a total of maximum peak power output of 400PS 700Nm torque. With a lightweight interior with an FIA approved spec safety cage, seat, and harness. As well as a modified racing chassis to increase stiffness, aerodynamic enhancements, and chassis adjustability to ensure closer racing. Using the same 90kWhr lithium-ion battery found in the production I-Pace, dedicated motorsport software and controls system developed by Jaguar Racing for Formula E to provide sophisticated energy, power, and regen strategy control.
Jaguar’s Team Director, James Barkley, shared details the brand’s “Race to Innovate,” how the Formula E experience creates tangible R&D benefits for the electrification of future Jaguar and Land Rover road cars. How the new all-electric I-Pace has benefited from the real world of Formula E series racing.
“We are developing the next generation of EV technology on the race track. This is why we race,” said James Barclay, Panasonic Jaguar Racing Team Director. “Formula E racing provides an ideal performance test bed for EV technology in a punishing, high-performance environment. It is incredibly exciting for the team to be a part of this revolutionary engineering exchange. We’re looking forward to finishing off our second season in New York City next month, a year which has seen us go from strength to strength.”
Twenty I-Pace eTROPHY will be available for a complete Ride and Drive package from Jaguar at a retail cost of £200,000 + VAT per car and eligible for three years. Not including the FIA eTROPHY fee of £450,00 + VAT entry fee per annum, providing entry into ten international race weekends as the main support Championship to ABB FIA Formula E. Drivers are required to have a minimum of an international C Circuit Race License and be categorized as bronze, silver or gold FIA Driver. Teams will compete for race by race prize money for top ten competitors and an end of season prize for three entrants and top three drivers.
Words by William West Hopper, Images by Jaguar Media and William West Hopper
This past month we had a thousand-mile journey and the team at Kia offered us a Wild Orange 2017 Soul Turbo for the trek. Thinking about great fuel economy and rising gasoline prices, it was a natural yes. Second thoughts were a light little breadbox rolling on the crazy interstates, this might not be the best idea.
Turns out that the Soul Turbo was a great road trip car, very capable on the highway, nimble in traffic and on the back roads, good on fuel, with plenty of space for luggage and people. As the trip turned out, it was mostly driving during inclement weather, rain, and fog. And the Kia Soul handled it, all in stride. The hampsters and the ducks got friendly on this trip.
History of the Kia Soul
The Kia Soul appeared on the market a decade ago, when small all activity vehicles were the rage. Spending time with the car, you can see how the Soul’s concept vehicle was inspired by a wild boar wearing a backpack. The New York Times reported, “the boar’s attitude of strength and capability was the image.” Today the Soul is the only rolling breadbox left as mundane crossovers have taken over the market share.
The Soul, designed to appeal to hip urban youth has also found a niche with the gray hairs who want a vehicle with easy entry and not a high price. Looking for something to carry the dogs, gifts for the grandchildren, and all that goes with life after kids have fled the nest. During our time with the Soul we had to agree as it had space for our stuff, and still room for people and a comfortable ride.
Kia Soul Saftey
While we did not test all of the Soul’s safety features, we did experience the anti-lock brakes on a wet interstate. They engaged, our heart skipped a beat, and we stopped safely.
In 2009 the Kia Soul quickly earned a maximum five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP. With the dual front advanced and side curtain airbags, as well as the electronic stability control and vehicle stability management systems, this feels like a safe small car. That safety rating places Kia Soul among the safest B-segment family cars in the world.
Marketing Strategy – Hamsters Drive the Soul
We identify with the chubby Hamsters and are thrilled to see them every chance we get. After the Soul’s release, Kia USA launched commercials in a campaign titled “A new way to roll” featuring city streets with animated hamsters on stationary hamster wheels. The commercials have attracted popularity on video-sharing sites and were awarded “Automotive Ad of the Year” at the Nielsen Automotive Advertising Awards. he most recent commercial was for the Turbo model, featuring the Motörhead song “Ace of Spades“.
Having always liked the out of the box, boxiness of the Soul, it is great to see that it is easily customizable with options and Kia offers the Soul in bright colors which have appealed to folks in this white, silver, and black painted automotive world we live in.
This Wild Orange Soul was also economical averaging around 30 mpg on the trip. Holding the road in the inclement weather and was easy to slip in and out of traffic with plenty of power from the 1.6-liter turbocharged direct injection 4-cylinder gasoline engine.
Interior space is well laid out, not expansive, but we did slip in a six-foot-long piece of art on canvas then later loaded it with supplies for our felines. The Soul did well even with the added weight in the rear.
A long drive was made comfortable by the firm and well-fitting leather and cloth seats. Easy access to the controls and view of the dash and displays made driving the Soul a fun experience. While it tended to be a bit choppy at lower speeds due to the 7-speed dual clutch transmission, which from what I understand is actively shifting gears. But at higher than in-town traffic speeds that did not pose an issue. And was actually quite smooth and somewhat quiet.
UVO, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Sirus XM and lots of USB ports
Modern cars seem to be short on USB ports to charge and connect phones and devices to the in-car technology. The Soul had two USB’s easily accessible and lit up at night, as well as an audio input jack and two 12-volt power outlets which seem to me to be so old school, back to when cars had cigarette lighters.
The Kia’s UVO eServices Infotainment System and associated smartphone app seemed to me to be more hype than help, while it is nice, I never found it very useful. Though a friend driving a Niro found it to be very interactive on that vehicle.
Not being a fan of Android Auto, as I feel it takes control of my phone, or maybe I am not an experienced enough user of it, this time it did not bother me as much as in other cars. On the other hand, it is nice to see that the car is equipped to handle whatever technology that is brought into it.
The 7″ touchscreen with rearview camera and the audio system worked great. The backup camera gave a clear large view of what was behind the vehicle even in bad weather. Sound quality out of the audio system was good, though not concert quality. This Soul was not equipped with navigation, though it would have been nice to turn off the display screen, as it had very little to display other than the Sattelite radio station information.
Dollars and Sense
The 2017 model we drove had a sticker price of $23,620 including freight, but not tax, tags, and dealer add-ons. Mileage was just under 30 mpg during a week of brisk highway driving, twisty side roads, and crowded city streets. Lower trim levels of the non-turbo Soul start at $16,200, though, with the extras that this model had, the price is reasonable. And with an auto club or buying service discounts, dealer incentives no doubt you can grab a great deal on a Kia. Like all Kia’s, this one carries one of the best warranties out there.
Driving Near and Far
The Soul Turbo was a great all-around car, small enough for parking in town, large enough to carry things and not be uncomfortable on the highway at speed with other traffic. The Soul Turbo had enough power to keep up with traffic and move out when needed. Interior space and comfort were plentiful and appointments while not luxurious, were modern and functional.
The Soul is a decade old design now, and with a refresh in the works, it will be interesting to see the next iteration. As with other Kia models, we have driven, we give this car a thumbs up.
Words and Images by William West Hopper
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