Kia Soul Will Join Line-Up in 2008 as a 2009 Model
Kia Motors America (KMA) will add another vehicle to its line-up in 2008, the Soul crossover utility vehicle (CUV). Announced at this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit that it will become a production vehicle, the Soul was originally unveiled as a concept car during the 2006 Detroit show. A collaborative effort between Kia’s design studio in California and design studio in Korea, it will go on sale at the end of 2008.
“The Soul’s aggressive and youthful styling is raising the bar for vehicles in its segment, and we are excited that it will be joining the ever-expanding Kia line-up in 2008,” said Len Hunt, executive vice president and COO of KMA. “The flexibility, function and utility this vehicle provides, as well as its dynamic appearance, further demonstrate Kia’s commitment to producing vehicles that create passion with consumers.”
The architecture of the Soul’s stance is reflective of its sporting and confident character. A wrap-around windshield, muscular wheel flares, stylish front headlamps and a sloped roofline help convey Soul’s athletic appearance, which is geared toward satisfying customers with an active lifestyle. The Soul’s exterior exudes an athletic presence, while several design cues lend a svelte, edgy look indicative of urban attitude.
Atop the sloped roofline is an automatic panoramic sun/moon roof. The front section of the panoramic roof slides backward and fits over of the rear section allowing for open-air driving with unobstructed views for both front and rear passengers. Also up top are roof racks integrated into the Soul’s design with rails for sliding objects forward and backward.
A symmetrical combination headlight design incorporates the headlamps and grille opening in a functional layout, while the front brush guard with integrated fog lamps is functional and helps convey the Soul’s SUV toughness. Side vents add some character while helping to cool the engine compartment.
The Soul’s side panel construction was designed with safety in mind and is strong enough to allow “freestyle” passenger doors (rear-hinged in back) that, when opened, reveal the lack of a B pillar, which makes for easier ingress and egress. High taillight placement lends to a contemporary look but also to better visibility and safety for occupants.
A rear brush guard smoothly envelopes the license plate underneath a power lift gate activated by the key fob. And the rear lift gate includes a unique backpack compartment that can be configured to accommodate an individual’s active lifestyle needs; it folds out like a mail slot for wet or muddy items such as a wetsuit and hiking shoes, or even a skateboard depending on its configuration.
The Soul’s interior was inspired by high-quality audio equipment, with the front dash designed around the front audio speakers rather than the other way around. Soul’s premium audio system will please music lovers and the speakers are strategically located at the best positions to maximize audio performance and sound quality.
Furthering the multimedia entertainment system is a notebook computer with a multi-purpose video game monitor housed in the glove compartment area. The notebook sits on a tray that swings outward when the vehicle is stationary and becomes accessible to either the passenger or driver seating positions. The multimedia system includes Blue-tooth and MP3 technology as well as multiple USB ports, Wi-Fi and telematics. Video monitors that fold up and out airline style from the center console, which runs the length of the cabin, are available for rear seat passengers’ entertainment.
Cabin ambiance is accentuated by upscale interior lighting. Instead of a typical dome light there is a lighting element surrounding each panoramic sun/moon roof. The same lighting technique is used in the door trim and is reminiscent of limousine interior lighting, adding to the Soul’s urban, social feel.
The Soul’s shape promises lots of interior space relative to its footprint; though small on the outside, the Soul is big inside with practical interior room and a reconfigurable cargo space. Two semi-bucket seats in front comfort the driver and front passenger, while flat-folding rear seats create even more storage space when desired.
The front-drive Soul is powered by a 2.0-liter, inline four-cylinder gasoline engine. The powerplant is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability and adaptive cruise control for active driver control and convenience.