Kia Trail'ster Concept Photo Gallery (25 Photos)

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Kia dropped so many hints during the Trail'ster concept's debut at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show that we won’t be surprised when some aspect of the off-road-themed electric all-wheel-drive Kia Soul hits the assembly line in the near future. The Trail'ster is a concept that looks awfully production-ready, inside and out.

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Kia's Soul-based Trail'ster has a beefy stance, and sits 2.5 inches higher than the production Soul on a coil-over suspension with increased suspension travel; it also wears 19-inch winter tires on each corner. Those wheels receive power through a 185-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that pairs with an electric motor mounted on the rear axle for an additional 35 hp. The electric all-wheel drive assists acceleration, can drive the Trail'ster on electric-only power and also provides grip when the front wheels slip.

The inside features an impressive level of luxuriousness for a Kia Soul, which is already nice for the price after its latest redesign. The Trail'ster takes things up a notch with a rich interior clad in brown leather upholstery and aluminum inlays. I'm not sure which part of the Trail'ster concept I'd rather see hit production — the powertrain or the luscious interior — but I'm leaning toward the turbocharged, electric all-wheel drive and lifted suspension.

Check out the gallery below; Cars.com photos by Evan Sears.

By Joe Bruzek | February 13, 2015 | Comments (3)

Kia Trail'ster Concept: First Look

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Looks like: A Kia Soul ready for off-road trails

Defining characteristics: Lifted ride height, meaty winter tires

Ridiculous features: Blinding array of front LED illumination

Chance of being mass-produced: You never know

An off-road Kia Soul seems like a stretch of the imagination, but the automaker put together a fun, if not convincing, concept at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show called the Kia Trail'ster. Featuring a turbocharged engine, electric all-wheel drive, lifted ride height and various trail-focused features, Kia says the Trail'ster is intended for those looking to escape the urban environment in favor of snow, mud, streams and trails.

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"The Trail'ster concept is a near-future look at how the production Kia Soul would logically evolve into an AWD-capable version that's built to escape the city streets and roam into the mountain wilderness," said Tom Kearns, Kia Design Center of America's chief designer, in a statement.

Though the concept shows off numerous trail-focused bits and pieces, Kia also teases that the Trail'ster's electric all-wheel-drive system could be a fuel-economy booster if used in a production application. We're listening, Kia.

By Joe Bruzek | February 12, 2015 | Comments (0)

2015 Kia Soul EV: Car Seat Check

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Kia's quirky box probably doesn't immediately jump to mind when you think of a family vehicle, but the Kia Soul has more room for kids and cargo than its compact dimensions suggest. The gas-powered Kia Soul, which was redesigned for the 2014 model year, performed admirably in our Car Seat Check, but what about the new-for-2015 electric version? Although the 2015 Kia Soul EV gives up some interior space to make room for the battery and has unique seats, small families won't have any problems installing two child-safety seats in the backseat.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

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By Jennifer Geiger | January 8, 2015 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 2010-13 Kia Soul

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Vehicles Affected: Approximately 95,000 model-year 2010-13 versions of the Kia Soul built between Jan. 8, 2009, and Oct. 2, 2013; only models equipped with a sunroof are affected.

The Problem: A headliner plate may detach during side curtain airbag deployment and possibly injure the vehicle occupants. 

The Fix: Dealers will install industrial adhesive strips to secure the headliner plates for free.

What Owners Should Do: Kia will begin notifying owners on Feb. 2. Owners can call Kia at 800-333-4542 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at 888-327-4236 for more information.

Need to Find a Dealer for Service? Go to Cars.com Service & Repair to find your local dealer.

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Editor's note: The model year in this post was updated on Jan. 5.

By Jennifer Geiger | January 5, 2015 | Comments (0)

Improved 2015 Kia Soul Earns IIHS' Top Safety Pick, Forte Fails

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The 2015 Kia Soul hatchback has rejoined the ranks of vehicles deemed worthy of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick. Meanwhile, the 2015 Forte fell short again after losing its status the previous model year, despite improvements.

Related: Not All Small Cars Shine in Latest IIHS Crash Tests

The Soul redeemed itself this time around by earning a good rating in the IIHS' stringent small overlap front crash test, which simulates what happens when a car strikes an object such as a tree or utility pole. IIHS rates cars on a scale of poor, marginal, acceptable and good. The Soul scored poorly on the small overlap test for the 2013 model year, and wasn't even tested for 2014 because Kia said things had not improved. The hatchback came back strong for 2015, however, raising its rating on the test from poor to good (acceptable would have earned it Top Safety Pick status). As is necessary for the safety designation, the Soul also earned good scores in the institute's other four crashworthiness evaluations: moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints and seats.

IIHS said the Soul improved by strengthening the front end and occupant compartment for 2015. "The driver space was maintained reasonably well with a small amount of intrusion," IIHS said in a statement. "The dummy's movement was well controlled, and its head hit the frontal airbag, which stayed in position during the crash."

By Matt Schmitz | September 17, 2014 | Comments (0)

Kia Prices Soul EV at $33,700

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The Kia Soul is one of Cars.com's favorite urban cars, and the all-electric 2015 Kia Soul EV aims to be the most city-centric Soul yet with its EPA-estimated electric range of 93 miles. The Soul EV Base trim level starts at $33,700 when it goes on sale later this fall, and a feature-heavy Plus trim starts at $35,700. Prices do not include a destination fee, which hasn't been announced, though a gasoline-powered Soul's destination charge is $800.

Related: 2015 Kia Soul EV at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show

The four-door Soul EV hatchback qualifies for the federal EV tax credit of $7,500, which is not reflected in the starting price. Californian markets are first to see the Soul EV on sale, and lease prices are expected to start at $249 per month; term and more details will be available closer to the Soul EV's launch date.

By Joe Bruzek | September 11, 2014 | Comments (2)

Top 10 Urban Cars

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From squeezing between a Dumpster and a wall to holding your breath as a bus hard aports past your bumper, cities can be an automotive minefield. And cars are often the casualties. Need proof? Look no further than auto insurance rates. A 40-year-old male with a 2012 Honda Accord in Manhattan's West Village would pay 27 percent more for the exact same coverage than if he lived across the Hudson River in Hoboken, N.J., according to CarInsurance.com's analysis of six leading carriers.

Related: Top 10 Most Overlooked New Cars

Yet scores of Americans still prefer to live in the city. From New York to San Antonio, the country's 25 largest urban centers are home to 31.9 million people within city limits, according to the 2010 Census. That's 10.3 percent of the entire U.S. population in 2010, and given the trend of increasing urbanization, it doesn't look like it will recede anytime soon.

Most city-zens still have to drive. Not to worry: Our latest Top 10 nominates cars best suited for urban driving. Editors considered our candidates' overall size relative to their competitors, as well as visibility, city gas mileage, turning radius, city drivability, utility and more.

Here are our picks, in order of which cars received the most votes. In cases of a tie, we ranked by turning circle and other dimensions.

By Kelsey Mays | August 11, 2014 | Comments (10)

2015 Kia Soul: What's Changed

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Most significant changes: UVO eServices Package, which includes a multimedia/telematics system and a backup camera, is a new option for base models with automatic transmission.

Price change: Up $200 across the board. The base model starting price is $15,900, with the Plus at $19,400 and the Exclaim at $21,500, including destination.

On sale: End of July/early August

Which you should buy, 2014 or 2015? 2015

Kia's "urban hatchback" was redesigned for 2014, and it appeals to a broad range of buyers, from the under-21 crowd wanting to make a fashion statement on a limited budget to their grandparents looking for a functional vehicle that also is economical.

Related: 2014 Kia Soul Real-World Mileage

The base model starts at an enticing $15,900, but that is with a manual transmission. Adding an automatic transmission boosts the price a hefty $2,000, and for most buyers that will be the starting point (cruise control, remote entry and other features also come with the automatic). In addition, the base model uses a 1.6-liter four-cylinder that generates modest power, and the more expensive Plus and Exclaim models, starting at $19,400 and $21,500 respectively, come with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that shows more vigor. Destination charges, included in the prices above, have increased by $5 to $800.

By Rick Popely | July 29, 2014 | Comments (5)

Recall Alert: 2014 Kia Soul

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Vehicles Affected: More than 51,600 model-year 2014 Kia Soul cars manufactured between July 21, 2013, and Jan. 17, 2014

The Problem: The plug that secures the pinion gear to the steering gear assembly may loosen due to an improper application of thread-locking adhesive during the assembly process. This could cause the pinion gear to separate from the steering gear assembly, causing a loss of steering and increasing the risk of a crash.

The Fix: Kia will begin notifying owners this month, and dealers will replace the pinion plug with a new one that has properly applied adhesive, for free.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call Kia at 800-333-4542 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236, or go to www.safercar.gov, for more info.

Need to Find a Dealer for Service? Go to Cars.com Service & Repair to find your local dealer.

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By Matt Schmitz | July 18, 2014 | Comments (1)

Most-Watched Videos of the Week

Our First Look featuring the 2015 Subaru Outback made its way up front on this week's list of most-watched videos, while a crop of newcomers led by the 2014 Jaguar F-Type Exhaust Note rounded out the top five. Check out what else was popular.

1. 2015 Subaru Outback — First Look
2. 2014 Jaguar F-Type Exhaust Note
3. 2015 Jeep Renegade — First Look
4. 2014 Kia Soul ("MotorWeek")
5. 2015 Acura TLX — First Look

By Matt Schmitz | May 17, 2014 | Comments (0)

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