As our Mazda is officially dead (14 years, it's hard to complain), we got Janna's parents to babysit and when car shopping.
We test drove the Prius C and Prius. It's really hard for me to express what horrible cars they both were. The ride combined a squishy feel with a lot of jerky acceleration, particularly when the gasoline engine cut in and out. At one point, I depressed the accelerator and there was a noticeable lag before anything happened.
Despite my general "early adopter" mentality, I felt overwhelmed by the silly gadgetry. I particularly disliked the bizarre shifter. To move between reverse, neutral, and drive you jimmy it in one direction or another, but it returns to a neutral position and the only indication of gear is on the digital speedometer. To park, you don't even use the shifter. You hit a button next to it.
Mostly it was just uncomfortable being in the vehicles. They both felt like being jammed into a sardine can. I think it's the amount they tried to fit in. There's a huge console between driver and passenger that's just too large, it's more like a privacy wall than an arm rest. I think they were going for "fighter pilot cockpit," but what they got was spam in a can. If they went a bit more spartan, certainly the regular Prius is larger than I think any car I've owned. However did they make it feel so small? Also, while we're on the fighter pilot cockpit, the windshield is a bit tall and there's a lot of gadgets to look at on the dashboard and it reminded me a little of an airliner cockpit where looking out the windows takes a back seat to flying by instrument.
Of course, lagging performance and too small are common complaints by those who enjoy large powerful cars and all that, but given my automotive history, these particular gripes stand out. I own a Fit/Jazz and in the past I've owned a Renault LeCar/R5, a 3 cylinder Subaru Justy, and a 73 original VW Beetle. I think if you folded the rear seats down, the Renault would fit in the Prius' hatch, but I never felt cramped in it.
So back to the drawing board. Except not. By happenstance the Kia dealership was next to the Toyota and Janna had liked the Soul. We hadn't done much research and it's kind of pricey, but since we were literally 30 seconds away, we gave it a test drive and absolutely loved it. Drives like it should. Has a double moon roof the size of Nebraska. Feels roomy, but drives like its small. Gadgets where they belong on the huge satnav/stereo screen and not where they don't.
We took the time to get a price from the dealer and while we're going to look at the Mazda 2 and the new Fit, I'd be very surprised if we weren't driving an Alien Green Soul next week.