Final thoughts on the new 2019 Kia Soul after 1,300 miles in one:

Massive, MASSIVE improvement over the outgoing model. The difference in interior build quality can’t be exaggerated and it rivals Infiniti quite handily. Yes, Kia interior better than Infiniti. Low bar? Certainly. But worthy of note.

The sound system was poorly equalized by whoever rented this previously. Once fixed the system in this car sounds great.

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Android auto is amazing. The stock infotainment isn’t awful either.

There were a few downsides:

31mpg, for almost entirely steady state highway driving, is kind of disappointing.

The steering and suspension... this thing seems to be trying to be a “sports car” which is the most idiotic thing I have ever heard of and the second biggest design fail of this car. Why does an econobox need to ride this hard? Every little bump and divot in the road is extremely pronounced and uncomfortable. Sure, it corners flat as all hell but it’s a nose heavy front-engined econobox so... who are you trying to fool here? I used to think E46 M3s were uncomfortably stiff but after driving one of those back to back with this it felt like a Cadillac. And the steering. Holy hell. I’ve owned 3 cars now without power steering (none of which were supposed to not have power steering, one of them was a 4,000lb jaguar) and NONE of those had steering this god damn heavy on the highway. It’s exhausting and there is no multiple modes on these lower trim levels. By the time we stopped for lunch on our trip my arms felt like they were going to fall out of my sockets by constantly tugging the heavy ass steering around.

The seat. Holy shit. The seat. I’m a small guy but I’ve driven and owned quite a few freakin cars and I’ve never NOT fit in one to the extent I don’t fit this economy car you’d think would be as one-size-fits-all as possible. Nope! The front edge of the seat sticks forward about an inch further than every other seat in the universe and has an incredibly tight radius to it which has the effect of jabbing CONSTANTLY into the back of my knees and requiring constant shifts to avoid losing circulation in my lower legs. And that’s only possible if I have the cruise control set and don’t need to have my feet on the pedals. Traffic? Absolute agony.

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So yeah. Decent car but ruined thoroughly by two dumb-ass design decisions that made renting one for a weekend road trip an absolutely miserable, hateful experience. I’m generally pretty easy on cheap and cheerful economy cars because I realize what they’re supposed to be but this was just inexcusable.

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