Car Tips

Redesigned Kia Soul stays true to original

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Kia had a bit of a problem on its hands. The funky compact Soul had become an unexpected hit, but was due for a redesign, but part of what attracted buyers to it was its distinctive shape.

The 2014 Kia Soul ($15,495 base price) is totally new, but it looks a whole lot like the old one.

There are improvements here and there in terms of things like interior space, technology and fuel efficiency. But the charming quirkiness remains, and people who liked the look of the first Kia Soul will probably like this one just as well.

Though it was an interesting challenge for Kia, one faced by other car brands as well. It took Volkswagen a dozen years to come up with a successor to their modern Beetle, but they found a way to update it and give it a more sporty profile.

The 2015 Mini Cooper on display at the L.A. Auto Show is due out next spring, but has the same spitting image. Even though it's a little bigger, it's actually the modern car's second redesign.

The boxy car segment came in with a bang about 10 years ago, but some industry insiders say the trend has waned quite a bit. Nevertheless, Kia is sticking with the Soul and now calling it an urban utility vehicle.

The company says the Kia Soul is poised to buck the trend.

The Scion xB that set the whole segment in motion has almost fallen off the radar. After a redesign of the one that was once so popular, sales are way down.

Honda killed off its square-edged element a couple of years ago due to slow sales, and the oddball Nissan Cube still hasn't really caught on with buyers.

But Kia's Soul is a little different. It's a cross between something boxy and a little SUV, a relatively inexpensive compact that's good on gas and offers a bit of style.

It's a style that pretty much mimics the car it's replacing.

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