TTAC Product Planning Advice: The Kia Stonic and Soul Edition

It seems so obvious as to be unmistakable. You’ve been selling an unexpectedly successful Kia Soul for nearly a decade, turning it from what was thought to be a niche-market idea into one of your most popular products.

Do that again.

Hence, here cometh the Kia Stonic. It’s not bound for America, at least not yet, but the Stonic serves elsewhere as the Kia version of the Hyundai Kona. Only unlike the Kona, the Stonic is — like the Soul — a front-wheel-drive subcompact-based “utility vehicle.”

Cargo volume? Virtually identical, at 12.4 cubic feet for the Stonic and 12.5 cubic feet for the Soul. Pricing? In the United Kingdom, the Soul stretches from £14,310 to £23,565, starting slightly below the Stonic’s £16,295 entry point and rising above the Stonic’s top-spec £20,495 price.

This overlap in price, mission, and size is exactly what the doctor ordered, so we have a few vital recommendations for Kia’s rivals.

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QOTD: What Car Do You Recommend Most Often?

Recommending vehicles, and having those recommendations go unheeded, is a key component of your role as an automotive enthusiast.

Whether you’re known as a go-to source for vehicle recommendations because of your encyclopedic automotive knowledge, because you’re a keen driver who once raced a Spec Miata, because you’ve brilliantly chosen five consecutive impeccably reliable midsize sedans, or because (like many TTAC contributors) you spend a week with new vehicles as they enter the market, you are relied upon by friends, family, and co-workers.

When asked, what new vehicle ends up topping your Most Recommended list? Forget Consumer Reports’ recommendations and Car And Driver’s 10 Best. If a friend asks you what new car they should buy, what car is it most likely to be?

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No Fixed Abode: Dealers Gone Wild!

“Character is what you do when no one is watching.” This quote, ascribed to John Wooden, C.S. Lewis, and others, is doubly true when it comes to the oft-reviled profession of automotive sales. Any dealer can be “ethical” when they are facing an informed consumer with money, credit, the ability to hire counsel, and the self-confidence to fight for own interests. I’ve had plenty of trouble-free transactions with dealerships that had well-earned abysmal reputations for ethics. Hell, I’ve even managed to buy some new motorcycles over the years without getting raked over the coals too hard.

You can’t judge a dealer based on how he treats a middle-aged white guy with a spotless credit rating, a laptop full of information, and a thorough knowledge of the laws in his state regarding new-car sales. That would be like the Misfit having a good opinion of the grandmother in the Flannery O’Connor tale. Rather, you judge a dealer by how he behaves when there is nobody of consequence looking. Given a dark-skinned female customer with a decent co-signer and some down payment money but no genuine idea of how the process works, how much advantage will a dealer take?

The answer might shock you, as they say — but it probably won’t.

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What's The Most Popular Kia In America? Hint: Not The K900

America’s midsize sedan market is fading fast. Sales are down 12 percent this year, and the cars that operate farthest from the top of the leaderboard are the cars that are fading fastest: the Mazda 6, Volkswagen Passat, dying Chrysler 200, and the Kia Optima.

U.S. sales of the Kia Optima, the best-selling Kia in America in each of the last four years, are down 25 percent through the first ten months of 2016, a loss of more than four Optima sales for the average Kia dealer per month.

The Optima, therefore, is no longer the most popular Kia in America.

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2017 Kia Soul Turbo - Boosting the Box

Korea’s second largest automaker knows that the Soul is getting a little long in the tooth. So, to hold the public’s interest, they’ve subtly revamped the styling and added an optional turbocharged engine that makes the previous offerings seem paltry.

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Ask Bark: Bad Cars That Are Actually Good

Thom writes:

Hi Bark,

Your RC F article got me wondering: what are some of the cars out there you think are actually good, enjoyable cars that get crapped on for no good reason other than inherent bias and/or groupthink in the automotive world?

I always wonder what’s out there that’s actually decent, if not outright good, that everyone seems to think is garbage. (Notwithstanding that sometimes everyone thinks a car is garbage because it actually is.)

This is gonna be fun.

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Bark's Bites: Orlando Kia West Is a Stunning Example of Why People Still Hate Car Dealers

On May 4th, my friend “Jenny” (whose name is changed for the sake of her privacy) could not contain her excitement. She posted the photo seen above to Facebook, sharing with her friends that she had just bought what she believed to be a brand-new 2014 Kia Soul from Orlando Kia West. She got what she also believed to be a rip-roaring deal, too, paying $4,000 under sticker.

Although the car was a 2014 model with 530 miles on the clock, Jenny said the dealer claimed it had never been sold to a private customer, but Orlando Kia West had to list it as a used car because it had purchased it from another dealer.

The minute I saw that, I immediately knew something was up. I contacted Jenny and asked her some questions about her experience. Fifteen minutes later, we were both furious.

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Ask Bark: Which Beater Should She Bet On?

New-to-TTAC reader Kobe writes:

Hi Bark,

I’ve only begun to read TTAC and your email responses are a great read, so I figured I’d give sending you a question a shot.

Two of my wife’s friends are looking for reliable, used cars. The parameters I’ve been given were $4,000 or less (as she will need to save a little for maintenance repairs I figure), a hatchback (preferably four-door), automatic, front- or all-wheel drive, and decent gas mileage. Her friend has lived around NYC most of her life, so although she has her driving license, she has rarely driven.

Now, I went about scrolling through all the makes and models that are listed on Autotrader and came up with this possible list:

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Review: 2015 Kia Soul EV (With Video)

EV “conversions” make for strange bedfellows when it comes to competition. There is no gasoline Kia Soul that competed even slightly with Mercedes or BMW. Oddly enough however, when you electrify one of the least expensive cars in America, you end up with with a Kia on the same cross-shop list as the i3 and B-Class Electric. Obviously a Kia Soul EV vs i3 vs B-Class comparison table is at the extreme end, but I am surprised how many folks wanted to hear that comparison. It isn’t just the luxury-cross shops that become possible however, comparisons normally considered to be “one-tier up” and “one-tier down” become more reasonable as well. For instance, the gasoline Soul isn’t a direct competitor to the Fiat 500 or the Ford Focus, but in EV form they are head to head.

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Grandma Review: 2014 Kia Soul

Derek’s Grandma returns, by popular demand.

I am a very lucky lady. And I don’t say that because I have won the slots every time I have gone to Vegas. I live in the kind of comfortable circumstances than many seniors do not enjoy. I have had a fulfilling career as an educator of children and adults that I only recently gave up. I am surrounded by amazing friends and family and have been fortunate to get through 81 years without any major health problems. So it was just my luck that my brand new Honda Fit was crashed into just days after I got it.

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Imagine A Kia Without A Soul

Last year was a difficult pill to swallow for Kia in America. After claiming record sales in 2012, Kia volume slid 4% even as America’s auto industry grew 8%.

There were inventory issues, but there was also concern that the new Sorento, though revamped under the skin, didn’t appear new on the outside. The Forte launch didn’t send shock waves through the compact segment. The Cadenza was never expected to be a volume leader.

Explanations for the decline didn’t stop Kia from “restructuring” either, as Kia Motors America’s executive VP of sales, Tom Loveless, was replaced by Michael Sprague.

Through the first eight months of 2014, however, Kia is back on track. Compared with the same period last year, brand-wide sales are up 7%. Compared with the first eight months of that record-setting 2012, sales are up 4.5%.

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Capsule Review: 2014 Kia Soul

Even those who didn’t appreciate the first Kia Soul’s eye-catching exterior would acknowledge the Soul was a car that majored on style.Replacing the underlying platform, updating the interior, and adding features are, to a degree, a set of secondary concerns in a car like this. The new Soul had to look every inch like the Soul, but if it didn’t look new, it may not incite the necessary reaction from the style-conscious portion of the car-buying public.

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Chicago 2014: Kia Soul EV Debuts
While sister brand Hyundai has yet to offer an EV, Kia will step up to the plate and offer an electric version of the Soul, with a range between 80-100 miles…
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Piston Slap: A Fear of Falling?

Michael writes:

I am a longtime TTAC reader, but do not comment very often. However, I have a question that perhaps you and the B&B can help me with. I am the owner of a 2011 Kia Soul +, 14,XXX miles. Been a great vehicle so far.

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Kia Wins "Weird Press Kit Of The Year" Award
TTAC Contributor Jeff Jablansky posted a picture of the little Hamster action figure that came with the Kia Soul press kit. Somehow, it looks more like a wei…
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  • Namesakeone If you want a Thunderbird like your neighbor's 1990s model, this is not the car. This is a Fox-body car, which was produced as a Thunderbird from MY 1980 through 1988 (with styling revisions). The 1989-1997 car, like your neighbor's, was based on the much heavier (but with independent rear suspension) MN-15 chassis.
  • Inside Looking Out I watched only his Youtube channel. Had no idea that there is TV show too. But it is 8 years or more that I cut the cable and do not watch TV except of local Fox News. There is too much politics and brainwashing including ads on TV. But I am subscribed to CNBC Youtube channel.
  • Jeff S Just to think we are now down to basically 3 minivans the Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna. I wonder how much longer those will last. Today's minivan has grown in size over the original minivans and isn't so mini anymore considering it is bigger than a lot of short wheel based full size vans from the 70s and 80s. Back in the 70s and 80s everything smaller was mini--mini skirt, mini fridge, mini car, and mini truck. Mini cars were actually subcompact cars and mini trucks were compact trucks. Funny how some words are so prevalent in a specific era and how they go away and are unheard of in the following decades.
  • Jeff S Isn't this the same van Mercury used for the Villager? I believe it was the 1s and 2nd generations of this Quest.
  • VoGhost I don't understand the author's point. Two of the top five selling vehicles globally are Teslas. We have great data on the Model 3 for the past 5 years. What specifically is mysterious about used car values?