Car Review Time!

I usually don’t do posts reviewing cars (at least I haven’t in a while), but I recently test-drove a 2017 Kia Soul. My sister enlisted my help in finding a good car for her, and like any good car-loving brother, I obliged. Somehow, there were no strings attached. We made a stop at the local Kia dealer, and looked at a few Souls. Next up was a test drive. Here are my thoughts on the 2017 Soul:

It’s a great little car. Decent power for it’s size and class. Yeah, I might want a bit more power when passing at higher speeds, or when it’s loaded down with people and gear, but that’s what the new turbocharged version is for! That being said, for everyday driving, it’s perfectly adequate. I’ll talk more about the driving dynamics in a bit.

Now onto how it looks. They’re certainly not for everybody, but I think it looks cool. It’s very roomy inside because of the styling, and the tail lights are cool. Yeah, the front end could look better, but that’s just me. Other people like it. Because of its boxier styling, it’s got great visibility. The windshield is big, and when you’re backing up, you’ve got great visibility. Because it’s a compact car with a very good turning radius, it’s great for big cities where space is at a premium. In white, it looks like an enlarged stormtrooper helmet.

This is the Soul "+" (Plus) model shown.
This is the Soul “+” (Plus) model shown.

The salesman was telling us that his first client was a big, tattooed, Harley-Davidson-riding guy, who really wanted a white Kia Soul because it “looked like a stormtrooper helmet.” It turned out that he was tired of nearly getting hit by cars all the time, so he decided to get a car and keep the Harley for nicer weather.

Yes, those are all of the available colors for the 2017 Soul!
Yes, those are all of the available colors for the 2017 Soul!

Inside the Soul, you’ll find a nice interior. By no means is it a Mercedes-Benz interior, but for what you pay for, it’s great. If you’re tall and find yourself in the backseat, don’t worry! I’m 6 feet tall, and had plenty of room behind the driver’s seat set to my liking! I could easily share the backseat with 2 other people. It’s also very quiet, thanks to Kia’s use of expansion foam in the body cavities. There’s a convenient USB charging port on the front console. There are also available fast-charging ports located inside and on the back of the center console. The overhead LED reading lamps work well. It also has fully automatic climate control.

Pretty swanky for a compact hatchback, don't you think?
Pretty swanky for a compact hatchback, don’t you think?

If you want a backup camera, you’ll get a bigger screen than the cars without  one. Spring for the navigation system and you’ll have a much larger screen (8 inches). You’ll also a 3-month SiriusXM All Access trial subscription, which gives you access to over 160 channels. The available UVO infotainment system (Kia’s intuitive infotainment system) has some neat features that are integrated onto your smartphone: it can keep track of where you parked your Soul, download Kia recommended apps through their App Download Center, monitor your driving habits and provide suggestions on how to improve fuel economy, etc., access 911 Connect or Enhanced Roadside Assistance, and check any maintenance requirements through Vehicle Diagnostics, all on the touch screen. What sweetens the UVO pot is the fact that there are no suscription fees for the first 10 years of access to the UVO system! It’s also Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible!

It’s also got a suite of safety features, some available and some standard. You can get a rearview camera, a forward collision warning system, a lane departure warning system, and one of the more appreciated features is the blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert. It’s especially helpful when you have to back out into traffic.

This is a picture of the backseat of a Soul EV, but it's the same thing for all essential purposes.
This is a picture of the backseat of a Soul EV, but it’s the same thing for all essential purposes.

Now, onto how it drives. As I said previously, it drives well for something in it’s class. It won’t keep up with a Porsche 911 by any means, but you can have some fun with it, too. You can also change drive modes on the fly with the Drive Mode Select System, which has a button conveniently located on the perfectly sized steering wheel. There’s an Eco mode, which works well in heavier traffic, and a Sport Mode, which is great for merging onto a freeway, or just having some fun. Yeah, the engine gets buzzy at higher rpms, but it’s not a high performance engine. The transmission is smooth; maybe even a bit too smooth for me. It does what you ask of it, but it won’t ever be as quick as a dual-clutch transmission. There’s even a nice EV model that is supposed to drive even better (I didn’t drive it, so I can’t say).

Kia offers industry-leading warranties. You get a 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty, a 5-year/60,000 mile basic warranty, a 5-year/100,000 mile anti-perforation warranty, and a 5-year/60,000 mile 24-hour roadside assistance warranty.

Here’s my takeaway:

Now, would I recommend it? Absolutely, no questions asked. I would even consider buying one for myself. Plus, they’re inexpensive, very reliable, safe, and pretty darn fun cars. Yeah, they would be pretty impractical for somebody who has kids in booster seats, but you could absolutely make it work. They have a lot of space, are safe, and last forever. Oh, and they look neat, especially in white. Kia has some pretty wild colors, which some people like (makes it easier for cops to spot them!).

What to Do When You Witness an Accident

Car accidents can be very scary.  I know – I’ve been in a nasty one myself.  My mom and sister were very nearly in one the other day, and it got me thinking about what you should do when you witness an accident.  Here’s all you need to do:

  • Pull over to a safe spot – the last thing you want to do is block traffic, unless you absolutely have to.  Pull off into a driveway, turnout, center divider, median, etc.  Put on your emergency flashers – DO NOT PUT ON YOUR BRIGHTS!!!  They will only blind other motorists, causing further crashes!
  • Take a deep breath!  Before you call 9-1-1 or do anything else, take a deep breath or two.  Having a clear head before going into anything remotely scary and stressful is a good idea.
  • Call 9-1-1.  If you’re the only person in your car, either call 9-1-1 yourself or flag down another car and have them call 9-1-1.  If you have another person with you, have them do it.  When whoever has made the call is finished, have them come back to you.  Tell them before they call, “Call 9-1-1 and report back to me!”  Be forceful, but don’t yell.  Just say it in a firm voice.
  • Set flares if you have them.  Flares are visible, and people will slow down when they see them.  Set them strategically – about 100 feet away from the accident (if there is not debris that far).  This will give people enough time to slow down and/or stop.  Setting two flares is good – unless it is at a four-way intersection.  Set one flare for each direction in that case.
  • Go to the car(s) involved.
    • If the occupants of the vehicle(s) involved are still in the car, and cannot get out, do not attempt to open the door for them.  It may be wedged shut, but more importantly, they can be seriously injured.  Look at it this way – if their door is so badly damaged that they can’t get out, don’t try to help them!  They are probably injured, and trying to help them might cause further injury and possibly death.  If they have a spinal injury, and you open the door and pull them out, they could become completely paralyzed.  If you are trained in vehicle extrication, do your thing.  If you haven’t been, try to comfort them.  Oftentimes, a window (or more) has been shattered.  Don’t put your head in – there is loose, sharp glass that is waiting to cut you.  Come into their view of sight, and tell them that help is on the way, and you will be back to check on them in a minute.  Check on them every couple of minutes.
    • If the occupants of the vehicle are out of the vehicle, try to calm them down.  They will be likely be freaked out and hysterical.  It’s scary to avoid an accident, but it is frightening to be in one.  You have to maintain your calm.  Showing signs of being upset will only make matters worse!  Tell them that emergency response is on the way, and that they need to take a deep breath.  Take charge of the situation.
      • In the case of a multiple-vehicle accident, if all of the people involved are able to get out of their cars, get them calm before anything else.  When they are calm, have them exchange insurance, take photos, etc.  Be there to help them.
  • Introduce yourself.  Don’t tell them you are a police officer, firefighter, EMT, EMR, or paramedic unless you are one!  Misrepresenting yourself is bad in any scenario, but lying through your teeth to a scared person is just dumb.  Tell them your name, and that you are here to help.  Talk to them firmly to get your point across.  Don’t be mean or scary.  Just speak to them in a tone of voice you would use when your dog isn’t listening.  Don’t yell, but make yourself heard.  On the opposite side of the spectrum, don’t be nicey-nicey either.  That won’t work.
  • If and when you have time, take some pictures.  You don’t need a lot; just enough to have for the record if it goes to court.
  • Look for anything dripping.  If there is dripping gas, get the occupants OUT OF THEIR VEHICLE!  This can cause a fire – most cars are still running.  If a fire starts, use a fire extinguisher or get people away from the area quickly!  Try to keep the fire from spreading if it starts.  It doesn’t matter if people have spinal injuries – MOVE THEM!  It’s better to be paralyzed than roasted alive.  If it is something red or green, it’s just transmission or radiator fluid.  Neither of these are good, but they won’t easily spark a fire.  Just try to keep hot things away from them.  If there is oil, not the best thing in the world.  It’s probably not going to catch fire, but it’s still a cause for worry.
  • Get somebody to direct traffic.  Flag down another motorist or have your passenger do it.  Let a few cars through at a time.  If people don’t stop, let them go.  You won’t have enough resources to stop them and yell.  Besides, it will do no good.  All it will do is get them angry and possibly start a fight.  You don’t want that.
  • In many cases, a police officer or fire truck will respond to the scene within a matter of a few minutes.  Update them on what happened, give them your name, and ask what you can do to help.  They will be pre-occupied from the moment they get the call, but they will tell you what to do.  Sometimes, you will just stick around and watch, and sometimes you might be able to direct traffic, take cervical-spine precautions on somebody, or do something else that is useful to efforts.  Don’t leave the scene unless you are told to do so.  If you have to go, tell the fire captain/police officer/EMT or paramedic that you have to go.  They will ask you for your phone number so they can ask you what happened later.
  • Above all, keep your cool!

That’s car accident witness 100.

Why Driving a Surplus Military Truck May Not Be a Good Idea

While this happened a while ago, I’ve been having fun with lots of other posts.  Anyhow, here goes.

Huntington Beach, CA police had an eventful night on September 10.  Officers responded to a call of a suspicious military vehicle around 7:45 p.m.  They found an elderly man driving a surplus military transport truck through town.  Early on, officers heard several loud pops.  These turned out to be backfires.

This elderly man led police on a chase for a short distance, reaching speeds of up to 10 mph.  Yes, 10 mph!

When the man arrived at his business, the police arrested the man for failure to yield to an emergency vehicle.

The unnamed man was released later that evening.

Maybe driving something this large through town ISN’T such a good idea…

California Man Accused of Stealing the Same Ferrari Twice!

Cars are stolen a lot.  It’s an unfortunate reality, but it’s life.  It’s just pretty much unheard of when the same person steals the same car twice.  But, that’s what apparently happened recently in Fontana, CA.

I don’t know what his motives were, but Earnie Hooks stole a certain black 2014 Ferrari 458 Italia Spider.  According to police, Hooks was intoxicated when he pulled up to a roadside checkpoint.  When the police ran the plates, they found out that the car was reported stolen.

Hooks managed to evade the police (given the car at his disposal, probably not too hard to pull off) and later abandoned the car, which was found and taken to impound.  However, about 3 a.m. the next morning, a special somebody broke into the impound lot and stole the car…again.  He was found five days later in Studio City, still driving the stolen Ferrari.  The LAPD arrested him, and Hooks somehow found the gall to plead not guilty to both the charges of car theft and resisting arrest.

Twice Stolen Ferrari

Here’s the Ferrari after Hooks was arrested.  I guess that if you’re going to steal something, go for the nicest possible car in sight…

Twice Stolen Ferrari

Here’s Hooks.  I don’t know where he got so banged up, but my best guess is during his arrest.

All I can say about this is wow.  For somebody to steal a Ferrari while drunk, evade police, BREAK INTO the impound lot, steal the car, and drive it around Los Angeles for 5 days and not be noticed is pretty amazing.  Don’t do this, kids.