Our Shadow Dragon

I never thought that I would one day drive a Kia, much less that I would want to drive one.  But a few months ago in a Best Buy parking lot, I saw a sweet-looking car that I didn’t recognize at all.  It was a Kia Soul, and I was intrigued.

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With a little searching, I found mostly favorable reviews, which made me feel less bad about liking a Kia.  And the story of the Soul’s design was certainly interesting.

We’ve wanted to get a second car for quite a while, and had hoped to get another Volkswagen, probably a Golf or a Jetta.  But they start at $18,000 whereas the Soul starts at $13,000.  I didn’t really like that base-model Soul, but the next one up was nice at around $15,000; and for the price of the base Golf/Jetta we could get a loaded Soul.

But there was still the whole "but it’s a Kia" thing in the back of my mind.  One way to settle that issue: take a test drive and see just how sub-par it is, so that we could take it off the table as an option.  So that’s what we did yesterday.  The only problem was, we loved it.

It turned out that they only had a couple in stock, and even at other dealers in the northeast region, no one had a Soul that matched what we wanted: the "plus" model, with a manual transmission, with the heated seats option, and the upgraded stereo system, in Titanium gray.  To get one shipped in from wherever it could be found would cost nearly a thousand dollars extra.

Of the two they had in stock, one was colored "Alien", which is a light green color that’s kind of cool, but seems like over time it’d become increasingly less cool, and then annoying, probably followed by hideous.  The other was the one we test-drove, but it was a little more fancy than we were planning to get: it was the Shadow Dragon Special Edition and on top of that it had a moonroof.

So this particular Soul was a little more expensive -- in fact it was just about the cost of that base model Golf/Jetta -- but it was loaded with features that would cost about $3,000 extra on the VW; and, the heated seats and upgraded stereo weren’t even available on the VW.  So even though we weren’t looking for the special edition in particular, it did have all the features we wanted, and we liked the black color scheme a lot.

My last remaining reservation was just the fact that, to me, Kia had always been synonymous with cheap.  And I love my Golf; surely even if the Soul isn’t necessarily cheap, it’s nowhere near as solid as a Volkswagen, right?  But then there’s the warranty: it’s 5 years / 60,000 miles basic and 10 years / 100,000 miles powertrain, compared to 3/36 and 5/60 on the VW.  This was a huge selling point for us, because they couldn’t afford to offer that kind of warranty if the car wasn’t relatively solid.

Kim wasn’t crazy about the Soul’s appearance at first, but it grew on her by the time we took the test drive, which is good since she’s the one who’ll be driving it most of the time.  I liked it from the jump, which is a little surprising since I really dislike other semi-similar cars like the Nissan Cube and the Scion xB (though the Honda Element isn’t bad).  Our particular Soul, our Shadow Dragon, with its black-on-black color scheme and black & chrome wheels, looks to me kind of like a militarized version of a Golf.  That, I like.

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