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Old 09-30-10, 08:57 AM   #1
MillCreek
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I just bought a 2011 Kia Soul

I recently changed jobs in my organization to become a regional risk manager. This means I am now covering several healthcare facilities in an 80 mile radius of my home. I am reimbursed for some of the mileage. The Ford Escape only gets about 21 MPG in combined driving, so I have been driving my 1986 Mazda pickup to save some on gas, since the Mazda gets around 26 MPG combined.

I decided that shifting 50 times in a mile in the stop and go freeway traffic, in a car with no power steering, airco or decent radio has gotten old fast. The Mazda was just fine for the trip of 10 miles from my home to my office on rural roads before the job move. So I had been pondering getting a small cheap commuter car with good MPG and an automatic transmission. I have a real yen for small station wagons with an automatic transmission as being very practical, but very few of those are being made any more. I have been watching Craigslist and AutoTrader for a nice Escort station wagon or the like, but have not had a lot of luck finding one in decent condition. I don't want to buy an Audi or VW due to reliability concerns, and the older larger station wagons have relatively poor MPG. It is a great pity that Mazda and Honda stopped making their station wagons. Ford is coming out with a new Focus wagon next year, which would have been perfect, but they won't be selling it in North America. It will be in Europe only.

So I have been pondering the Honda Fit or Kia Soul as being reasonably close to a contemporary small station wagon that gets good mileage. Both of these have gotten awards up the wazoo. Not a lot of these are available on the used market, and those that are are surprisingly close to the new car price. I have considered a number of hatchbacks, such as the Matrix, Caliber, Mazda 3 and the like, but they are all smaller or have worse reputations than the Honda or Kia. Based on my reading, I can easily fit one of my road bikes into the Honda or Kia without disassembling the bike.

A number of people have recommended buying a new car through the Costco Auto Program, that apparently gives you the 'best no dicker' price. I signed up through that to look at a Kia Soul. A dealer about 15 miles from me is the local Costco rep for Kia.

I went to the dealer and test drove the Kia, a used Honda Fit (2009) and a used Scion xB (2008). I ended up choosing the Kia Soul + as the best mix of size, fuel efficiency, options and cost. Sticker was just under $ 20,000. The Costco price was $ 17,225, and with taxes and fees, I got a cashiers check for $ 18,164 out the door.

I have now driven the Soul for about 40 miles, and so far, I am getting 29 MPG city driving and 34 MPG freeway. It certainly has quite the commodious interior and all the bells and whistles I would want. I will be interested to see how it holds up, but I went over all the Kias at the dealer with a fine-tooth comb, and I was frankly surprised at the fit and finish.

It is really a shame that more small, affordable and gas-efficient station wagons are not available in the US.
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Old 09-30-10, 08:59 AM   #2
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Whoa! Congrats! Got any pics yet?
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Old 09-30-10, 09:04 AM   #3
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Agreed...not enough wagons. Of course just the words 'station wagon and hatchback' seem to be taboo. I love my Mazda 3 HB. Although its ground clearance doesn't work out so well in the snow even with snow tires.
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Old 09-30-10, 09:16 AM   #4
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Glad to hear you have a soul again, even if it is an imported one.
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Old 09-30-10, 09:47 AM   #5
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Agreed...not enough wagons. Of course just the words 'station wagon and hatchback' seem to be taboo. I love my Mazda 3 HB. Although its ground clearance doesn't work out so well in the snow even with snow tires.

That is if one cares about what people think. ;0) I drive my wifes Chevy HHR (wagon) with Tinkerbell clearly visible on the dash! and I drove her VW beetle (hatchback) everywhere with the big bright yellow sunflower on the dash! LOL!
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Old 09-30-10, 09:56 AM   #6
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Yeah but you don't have a problem with your manhood being threatened.
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Old 09-30-10, 10:21 AM   #7
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my little 2008 Honda Fit seems to have just as much space inside as my 2000 Outback wagon did. Fit averages @35 mpg.
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Old 09-30-10, 11:13 AM   #8
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No love for the Subaru?
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Old 09-30-10, 12:09 PM   #9
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Subarus are very popular in the Pacific NW. They did not meet the criteria I was using, but several of my friends have Subarus and like them very much.

I did my test drives fully expecting that I was going to buy the used Honda Fit. I was interested to see how much more cargo space was usable in the Soul by virtue of the taller roofline. Also, used Honda Fits are still rare on the market and they seem to command a premium. For what was being asked and the condition of the Fit, I decided I was better off with the Kia.
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Old 09-30-10, 12:14 PM   #10
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I loved my 2009 Honda Fit. It had plenty of room for my bike. I was paying too much for it and our job is fixing to do salary cuts so I traded it in last week for a 2010 Honda Civic. I love that both are real good on gas.
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Old 09-30-10, 12:30 PM   #11
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They are cool looking cars--glad you like it. Did you get the fastest color?

If you're after some customization, I'm pretty sure one of the other Foosters could hook you up.

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Old 09-30-10, 03:12 PM   #12
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Not sure about the Soul, but the Fit actually is pretty good. I normally scoff at econoboxes, but for running around town, they are decent cars, especially popping it into "S" on the gear shift and paddle-shifting it does help a bit.

Not sure how it does on gas, as it is purchased just a few days ago. It has to be better than my old pickup where 8-11 MPG is the norm with that thing. The Fit's visibility kicks butt as well.
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Old 09-30-10, 03:28 PM   #13
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I have a Hyundai Elantra hatchback (previous generation) and I like it a lot. A few things about Hyundais/Kias that you may find useful:

. If at all possible, use a factory filter for oil changes. At some point in the past at least, there were issues where oil filter manufacturers (example: Fram) were putting Honda spec filters out and saying they were good for Hyundais and Kias too. The problem is that while both Honda and Hyundai/Kia filters have a bypass valve to prevent oil starvation at times of high oil demand, the Honda filter can open at a higher pressure which, if used on a Hyundai/Kia can result in oil starvation and possibly engine damage. Not sure if this is still and issue, but it was a problem maybe 5-7 years ago. (My local dealer has a $20 oil change special so I just take it there.)

. This is still current: If you have an automatic transmission, do NOT use "universal" automatic transmission fluid in it, because it isn't universal. To be compliant with either Dexron or Mercon specs, "universal" fluids need a solvent added that damages Hyundai/Kia transmissions (specifically the torque converter). (This is also an issue with Mitsubishi transmissions.)

. The bumper-to-bumper warranty is long, which is great (5 years, 60,000 miles). However, make sure you do regular maintenance and keep records just in case. When the car is 4 years old or has 60,000 miles, you must change the timing belt. Failure to do so can result in big-time engine damage that won't be covered under warranty if the belt breaks and is older than 4 years or has 60,000 miles on it. Hyundai and Kia engines are generally "interference" engines which means that if the timing belt breaks, the valves and pistons will collide.

I post to an Elantra forum, and they are very long-lived cars. In the cases where they aren't, it's almost always a case of blatant abuse or failure to do the maintenance properly. Do the right things and these cars a bulletproof.

If I were to buy a car RIGHT NOW, the Kia Soul would be way up on the list. I hope you enjoy it and get a lot of good miles on it.
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Old 09-30-10, 04:15 PM   #14
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That's weird, I just got back from the grocery store, and I was totally smitten by someone's car and had to force myself to finally move away before someone called the cops, and it was a brand-new Kia Soul. Very sharp car.
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Old 09-30-10, 04:27 PM   #15
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No love for the Subaru?

Drove subies for 20 years! My son ran the 2000 Outback into a pole (oh, thank goodness the DEER survived!!), and with 356,000+ miles, it wasn't really worth spending over $4000 to fix. BUT, I bought the Fit for the mileage - I drive alot. When Subaru finally gets around to a car that gets 35+mpg, I'll be back!
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Old 09-30-10, 04:55 PM   #16
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Drove subies for 20 years! My son ran the 2000 Outback into a pole (oh, thank goodness the DEER survived!!), and with 356,000+ miles, it wasn't really worth spending over $4000 to fix. BUT, I bought the Fit for the mileage - I drive alot. When Subaru finally gets around to a car that gets 35+mpg, I'll be back!
Yeah, it'll be tough to get that mpg with AWD though. One of the tradeoffs.

Honda makes nice stuff--they've got it figured out.
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Old 09-30-10, 05:11 PM   #17
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Soul is EPA rated 24 city, 30 hwy. That means it should average about 25 mpg overall. You might squeeze low 30's on long trip. Fits are at least 5mpg better than that.

The disconnect between what people think their car gets and the fuel economy it really gets is astonishing, prevalent, and consistent across the board.

$150 bbl oil would cure that. That's what the world needs. But we'll never get that again. Even if oil spikes that high, it would crush demand. Hard. The moves Americans are making into more fuel efficient cars and increasingly electric cars (over the next decade) are not sufficiently factored into oil price projections. The price of oil will between $70 and $100bbl for the next decade.
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Old 09-30-10, 05:32 PM   #18
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When my Honda CRV started giving me too many repair bills (after 187,000) miles this summer, I decided a Honda Fit was really all I needed. Most of the time, it's just me and maybe my bike... Back when gas was $4.50, I really started questioning if I needed such a large car.
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Old 09-30-10, 05:54 PM   #19
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Soul is EPA rated 24 city, 30 hwy. That means it should average about 25 mpg overall. You might squeeze low 30's on long trip. Fits are at least 5mpg better than that.

The disconnect between what people think their car gets and the fuel economy it really gets is astonishing, prevalent, and consistent across the board.
Given what I have read on the new EPA methodology to compute MPG, I fully expect to get higher than the EPA numbers. I am so far, and I will be interested to see if this changes as my sample size of miles driven goes up.
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