Like Regular Car Reviews, sometimes you must share with the masses the joys of driving those cars that we mere mortals are able to drive. We search Youtube and the interwebs for reviews and video of the cars that we covet but probably will never have. Alas, the realities of normal. The day in question was a work related trip (yes we at TLP unfortunately have day jobs) in which I would pick up one of Enterprise Rental Cars finest chariots and drive with two colleagues to the Bay area for some meetings. Three guys in suits trying to look serious so when I arrived to pick up the car imagine my surprise.
Of course, over the years all of us have had our share of questionable rental cars, but rarely does one get to drive something so bright and ugly. Usually its just ugly, but this time I hit the bonus. A Kia Soul in Kermit the Frog green. While staring in horror the Enterprise employee informed me that I was so lucky because this was the upgrade. If this was the upgrade what was the original rental? Trying to scan my memory of car knowledge, all I could come up with while staring at it were the television spots for the car that featured several hipster hamsters cruising the town. I couldn’t picture the hamsters in this particular rental car but I had suspicion the engine was a series of hamster wheels daisy chained to the drive train.
Known as an “urban hatchback” the Kia Soul, ironically named because it lacks one, pushes the hamsters via 4cy 1.6L putting out about 130HP at wawaaaaaaaaaa RPM. I will give it some credit. Once on the inside you can no longer see most of the green and it was surprisingly roomy. After playing around with the various functions I found that it had three steering modes, comfort, normal and sport. Steering modes? I tested them all in different settings and couldn't tell the difference and I highly doubt that in a sub $20K car that these settings mean much of anything.
How did it fair over 14 hour driving day? In those moments where you forget what you are in, it was ok. Passing on the freeway escaping San Francisco all required a foot to the floor. At any decent speed a few bumps would remind you of the tiny and narrow tires that dared you to forget. Bay area traffic is always horrendous but add to it a car that no one takes seriously and your commute is going to be ripe for a therapy session. A Kermit the Frog green Kia Soul, much like Rodney Dangerfield gets no respect. Never have I been in a car so bright in color but so ignored in traffic. No mercy for merging or passing.
Most rental cars tend to be entry level and often represent the sweet spot of affordability for many buyers looking for a new car. Yet, even with a 15K or so price tag I cant figure who picks one of these. Perhaps thats why its in a rental car fleet.
Usually, “if its a rental, no need to be gentle,” but neither the car nor I had the heart for any hoonanigans. Wouldn’t want to offend animal lovers if some of the hamsters were killed in a speed bump rally accident. I cant end without saying something good. In spite of its lack of any soul, the subpar engine and handling the seats were very comfortable.