2008 L.A. Auto Show: 2009 Kia Soul
- Competes with: Scion xB, Nissan Cube
- Looks like: Kia is breaking out of its conformist styling history
- Drivetrain: 120-hp, 1.6-liter four cylinder with five-speed manual; 140-hp, 2.0 liter four-cylinder with five-speed manual or four-speed automatic
- Hits dealerships: Early 2009
Kia’s all-new Soul is a major step forward for the company. Not only is the vehicle directly aimed at a youth market that's currently dominated by Scion, it’s also the first Kia that strays into untested waters in terms of out-there styling.
Even though its looks are wild for a Kia, they’re not as wild as either the Scion xB nor the just-announced Nissan Cube. That could make the Soul more attractive to more people, despite recent theories that polarizing designs are what people want.
Sized directly between the smaller Cube and the larger xB, the Soul also sports a number of trim levels, from a stripped base model, sans air conditioning, to a top-of-the-line Soul Sport. What will confuse buyers most are likely the oddly named middle trims, the Soul+ and Soul!
Kia wants you to pronounce those "Soul Plus" and "Soul Exclaim."
The Soul+ adds air conditioning, and it and the other top trims also offer standard stability control. Other big differences between the base model and the Soul+ include:
- Black door handles versus body-colored handles
- Old-school locks versus keyless entry
- No-tint glass versus rear privacy glass
- 15-inch steel wheels versus 16-inch alloys
The Soul! and Soul Sport add 18-inch wheels, a power moonroof and fog lights.
We’re guessing the Soul will also start well below the prices of the xB and the Cube.