A few years ago, I traded in my Chevy Sonic for a 2013 Kia Soul. My children rejoiced, saying, “Look! Dad finally has a soul. I mean, it’s black inside and full of garbage, but he finally has a soul.”
Then, “Can we borrow your soul Dad?”
And so forth.
My 2011 Chevy Sonic, for context, was a panic buy to replace my beloved Equinox, which had a gas tank issue. Once your wife is envisioning your vehicle going up in a ball of flame, you have no choice but to sell it.
The Sonic is like a sports-car made by east European communists. It’s is surprisingly fast (because it uses the same engine block as the larger cars in Chevy’s fleet car line) and handles decently, because it is small. And everything in the interior feels cramped, just like a sports-car. But it is a fleet car, engineered to fall apart after 80k miles or so.
While I could drive it like a maniac, putting four adults inside felt like a clown car stunt, and things were starting to fall off. So we went to the dealership and came home with the Hyundai Veracruz, and my Soul.
Early on in my ownership of it, someone asked me about it, and I told them that it was the best MP3 player I had ever driven. They do seem to have put more thought into the media system than any other part. The speakers have LED rims that change color with the music. I never saw that as a selling point when I purchased it, but they have come to amuse me.
Its is boxy, mediocre in both acceleration and climbing, and the fuses jiggle loose from time to time. It has no roof rack. You will feel every bump in the road – every one. Those are my complaints. All of them.
Four adults can fit within with some dignity. I can actually fit a lot of things in it – for boxy=roomy. When I moved 1000 feet north, most of the things made the journey in my Soul. My lawn furniture and gas grill came home in my Soul. But it’s not a truck, so people don’t ask me to move stuff for them all the time.
It has a tight turning radius and a relatively high ground clearance. It gets around 20 mph even when I drive it the way I do. I made it 80K miles before it needed any major service.
Of course, I need it to go another 60K miles at least. I have three years left on the $15k note secured by my Soul that is generously valued at about $5k. How the hell do you get $10k upside down on a car loan?
You wreck a car without the means to make a cash down payment, or even cover the insurance deductible. So you find yourself at the mercy of whatever scheme the dealership puts together. The Soul (and the Veracruz) were the fourth generation of cars coming off the lot with this debt still buried in the financing somehow.
When we bought it, this Kia Soul had a big rebate, so magically, this is the car they buried that debt inside.
I owe a lot more on my Soul than my Soul is worth. My Soul has been used to hide previous sins.
I do not own my Soul.
Somehow the only name on either the title or the loan paperwork is that of my (soon-to-be-ex) wife. She does not know how that happened either. She has a completely different car now. The Soul remains my primary vehicle, even though, after the divorce, I will have no legal ownership of it.
Sometimes, when I project the payments out over time, I daydream about saving up a down payment, and just leaving this thing in the parking lot of the credit union that actually owns it. But that would be Wrong.
After all, I’m the one who wrecked that car I have yet to finish paying off.
In a year at RC Lurie I put 20k miles on that car. That’s a fact that will shut a car salesman up about leasing options. Those are hard miles, city traffic, construction sites, lost on back roads. My Soul has already taken a beating.
I have become fond of the Soul I am driving to death without any real hope of ever paying off. Good thing, because I just dropped $800 on brake repairs and a long list of maintenance items. (My local mechanic is a master of never fixing just one thing, and since I cannot abide multiple trips to the garage, I am his lawful prey here).
So I choose, for now, to keep my Soul, even if it isn’t legally mine. It works for me. And there is speculation that Kia cars can go 200k if treated right. So maybe I can get mine to 140? We shall see.
And I can always add a roof rack later.
Consumer Reports on the 2013 Soul. They even make a little joke about the interior.