Names and categories used to matter when referring to cars. Coupes used to have two doors, period. Porsche got a bunch of flak last week when they called their electric sedan a Turbo. Tesla uses the term Supercharger for a device that isn’t connected to a crankshaft with a big belt.
Click through to Kia’s website (open a new tab, please – don’t leave me here alone!) and you’ll note five distinct categories. Sedans, hatchbacks, minivans, and hybrids/electrics all follow the hot one – SUVs and Crossovers. Unsurprisingly, this 2019 Kia Soul sits right atop that list, though by any traditional automotive taxonomy this box is a hatchback. Peel back the sharp edges, however, and the Soul offers many of the advantages of a popular crossover without the compromises.
After roaring out of the recession with revamped offerings and soaring sales, Hyundai and its Kia sister brand now face a seemingly endless slew of recalls. The latest involve a trio of popular crossovers, with the automaker warning of potential engine damage if the matter goes unaddressed.
When you look at a Kia Soul, you likely peg it for just what it is – a boxy, utilitarian commuter vehicle. You wouldn’t expect it to be a blast to drive, or full of coddling luxury materials and content.
Sometimes, what you see really is more or less what you get. This is one of those cases, with some pleasant surprises along the way.
The updated Soul has new exterior duds, a re-imagined cabin, and a newly available turbo mill.
I had just returned from driving the 2020 Kia Soul in San Diego (review forthcoming later today) when Kia fulfilled a promise made to the media via a note in my inbox.
The pricing info that wasn’t ready for our drive event was now live.
While most of the pricing is in line with what one expects of a boxy compact commuter, if you fancy the GT Turbo, be prepared to pony up.
Outside of a Nissan-hosted panel preceding the first media day, the typically mobility discussion was muted at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show (and even that panel wasn’t nearly as eye-roll inducing as the usual Ford pronouncements — at least this panel included actual experts making reasonable points, even if I disagree with some of them.)
L.A. was all about the cars – cars you’ll soon be able to buy, should you have the means.
Along with the high-volume version which debuted at the L.A. Auto Show this week, Kia has dropped an all-electric, battery-powered Soul EV.
Compared to the old car, its battery has doubled in capacity, while the electric motor now spits out nearly 300 lb-ft of torque. And, like its conventionally powered brother, the works of it are wrapped up in a snappy new set of duds.
Forget about the “+” and “!” trim levels you’ve grown used to — they’re gone come the 2020 model year. For its upcoming redesign, the long-running Kia Soul subcompact (dare we call it a crossover?) grows slightly in length but much more in maturity, adopting a meaner visage and a trim roster mimicking that seen on other Kia models.
The new face, which calls to mind the Dodge Charger of all vehicles, is but one of a host of changes for 2020. One thing that doesn’t change is the model’s inherent funkiness. This thing hasn’t become staid.
Believe it or not, the Kia Soul has been around for nearly 10 years now, carving a nice niche for itself in the subcompact crossover market and lining corporate coffers with plenty of cash.
Later this month, the company will show its third-gen Soul at the LA Auto Show. It’ll retain a familiar shape if the teaser image is anything to go by. One neat detail buried toward the bottom of the press release? A promise of “several drivetrains,” including what the company calls a “gas-free electric.”
Does this mean we’ll finally see an all-wheel drive Soul? The TTAC magic eight-ball tells us Signs Point to Yes.
Hyundai has clearly committed itself to sporting models. While we’re positive the new N badge will attach itself to a handful of undeserving models in the years to come, go-fast versions of the overseas i30 and North American Veloster show it won’t be the norm. The brand seems to have hit upon something and intends to keep funneling high-performance models through its N sub-brand.
Now with a sporting model of its own, Kia wants in on the fun. But the Stinger GT looks to be in a safe place as the company’s premiere performance model for a while. Rather than focusing on lap times, the Korean brand intends to build smaller range of GT models with an emphasis on everyday performance. That could be a kinder way of saying “watered down,” or simply an admission that Kia wants fun-loving automobiles but knows it can’t step on Hyundai’s toes.
The sound you hear is more range coming to the Kia Soul EV, but it’s not here yet. As such, the electric version of Kia’s shockingly popular Soul remains pretty much unchanged for 2019, with one exception: you can’t get the least expensive version anymore.
For buyers living outside California, this change won’t mess with plans or cost anyone a cent. They couldn’t get their hands on one, anyway.
Annual sales of this upright little Kia regularly crest 100,000 units, despite casting roughly the same shadow since its introduction 10 model years ago — though it did grow slightly in wheelbase and width during its 2014 restyle.
Its early marketing efforts, featuring life-sized animated hamsters that frequently haunt my dreams, were actually inducted into the Madison Avenue Walk of Fame. The people who decide such things deemed the hamsters such a hit they now reside along the Aflac Duck and Tony the Tiger as advertising superstars. Hmm.
With robust sales, the Soul is doing anything but spinning on a stationary hamster wheel, particularly in base trim.
Yesterday, TTAC covered news of the launch of a second-generation K900 model in the United States at the upcoming New York International Auto Show and Mobility Conference. Upon considering the K900 and its potential for success, some questions arose about the three different badges on offer from the Hyundai-Kia conglomerate, and what we might do with them.
Where does Hyundai go from here?
Some years ago, product planners at Nissan, Honda, and Kia each decided to cut stylists out of the design process for a new car line and hand everything over to engineers. Those engineers, looking for the most practical and efficient shape to haul maximum cargo – fleshy or otherwise – each decided to use a cube for inspiration. Nissan didn’t stray far even for a name.
Each of those boxes was marketed toward the youth of the day – when they came out, I was part of that target demographic. Problem was, the kids didn’t have money to spend on a new car. That’s why many Elements, Cubes, and Souls tend to be driven by older, somewhat more affluent folks who appreciate the practicality, and can also afford it.
Well, I’m now approaching that second demographic. My forties are within sight. Is the 2017 Kia Soul right for me? In other words, is an old soul right for a new Soul?
Halloween is coming up and Kia is getting into the spirit of things by harvesting a few Souls. Over 300,000 of them, to be exact.
According to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a pinion gear in certain 2014 – 2016 Kia Souls and Soul EVs is at risk of separating from the steering assembly.
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