What is the first thing you think of when you picture the Kia Soul? Do you think fun and sporty, funky and interesting, new age, electric…hamsters? The Kia Soul has been around for eleven years, and it has played a role in Kia’s development as one of the eight largest car companies in the United States and Kia’s place as number one on J.D. Power’s Initial Quality. The Soul is one of the more creative designs that appeals to people of all ages, and Kia has given it a breath of fresh air with the 2017 Soul Turbo, standard in the Soul’s highest trim level, the Exclaim (!). To introduce this new addition, Kia has unveiled it in a city full of history and unique culture. Luckily, I got to be there with Kia on the very first test drive.
Staying at Hotel Zeppelin in San Francisco proved to be an authentic representation of the city as well as the spirit of the Soul. Two blocks from Union Square, Hotel Zeppelin is new on the scene having opened in Spring of 2016. It is a reflection of the infamous counterculture of San Francisco with black light poetry on the walls, a street level lounge with an artisan style menu, and a relaxing communal space with games. In the communal area, visitors are met with a floor to ceiling peace sign built into the wall that symbolizes the generation that made San Francisco a mecca for the beatniks, soul searchers, and radical youth. The atmosphere was indicative of the typical Soul buyer in as much that there is no typical customer. An eclectic array of people drive Kia’s most recognizable car. Drawn to the Soul for a variety of reasons, buyers have created a Soul counterculture of sorts while intensifying Kia’s brand loyalty. The Soul’s funky design and convenient functionality appeals to most everyone. Now, Kia has added a some power to the equation.
Before we got to hit the streets, we got a taste of the city with a trip to Mission Bowling. It is a unique, 6 lane bowling alley that serves cocktails, craft beers, and award winning dishes. The retro vibe stays true to San Francisco’s individuality and proved to be a great introduction to the area. The amazing food like spicy honey butter kennebec chips or the coffee glazed baby back ribs were the perfect indulgence for a night of bowling. As for the drinks, they remain loyal to the community by buying from local breweries and craft distilleries and supporting their nearby small family wineries.
After an evening roaming the city, we got our first glimpse of the Kia Soul Turbo. Continual efforts to create harmony between aesthetics and function, led Kia to incorporate design features such as the hot red Soul nameplate and other red accents to spice up the Turbo. The headlights have been updated giving a sweeping, angular design for a sportier face. Even the front and rear fascias, skid plates, and wheels have been rejuvenated to reflect its unconventional individuality. Commitment to revamping the Soul has made it a signature car that continues to rise in sales each year while some competitors have stopped production of their similar models. It is also why the Kia Soul has won 5 Active Lifestyle Awards.
The Kia Soul Turbo has a 6 cylinder turbocharged engine with 201 horsepower and an improved fuel economy. It gets 26 mpg city, 31 highway, and 28 combined. With 195 lb-ft of torque, the new turbo grabs the road with unexpected force and maintains it with an effortless ease. The smooth acceleration is accompanied by firm steering that guides the driver without overpowering the maneuvering. There is also a sport mode when you want to tackle more adventurous terrain which gives the car a more forceful feel and tightens up the steering. Northern California was a great location to unveil this newly animated Soul Turbo. San Francisco’s tightly packed city streets tested the optional handling and safety features such as the Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Then, a cruise along the curving highway 101 allowed us to really open up it up and see what it had to offer.
It comes standard with 6 Harmon Kardon speakers meant to pump in the soundtrack of your life. With the technology package, you also get a center speaker, subwoofer and amplifier and speaker lights to create a blissful light show symphony to drown out the world around you. Wireless BluetoothⓇ with voice recognition comes standard as well as Android Auto and Apple carplay. The interior has lone elements like the D shaped steering wheel and cloth, leather combo seats to give it an exclusive atmosphere. An optional 8 inch touch screen display with navigation is also available. There are more USB chargers which is very helpful when the Soul seats 5. Over 60 cubic feet of cargo space will help accommodate all the extra baggage for all those people you can tote around. The new turbocharged engine gives it some zippy, sporty, pickup that will tickle the thrill seeker in you.
Following the coast north, we took on the winding roads with confidence before heading east towards our evening rendezvous. Through vibrant vineyards and lovely green, rolling hills, we ended up at Solage Resort and Spa. Tucked away in a small community in northern California, Solage Resort is located in Calistoga, and it is a totally different vacation experience. With a choice of studios or suites, the resort is like a small little neighborhood with each building housing individual quarters. Unlike the stuffy atmosphere in run of the mill hotels with rooms upon rooms, the suites and studios are situated upon green grass lawns with dreamy willows and pleasant sidewalks to wander the grounds. After a day of driving, soaking in their mineral waters was the perfect way to unwind.
Northern California was the best way to experience the new Kia Turbo Soul, and I cannot thank Kia enough for allowing me to be a part of the journey. Their attention to customers from their loyalists to newbies is what constantly drives Kia to higher sales and a commanding presence in the world of cars. The new Kia Soul Turbo is example of Kia kicking it up a notch for their devoted drivers, and it is well worth a test drive, at the very least. Starting at $23,500 the standard options have plenty to offer, but for $27,620 you can get the exclaim fully loaded with all the bells and whistles.
***Disclosure: I attended the #KiaSoulTurbo Event My flight, lodgings, and expenses were covered by Kia All opinions are 100% mine. ***