Newly-revamped Kia Soul is the last of the 'boxy' compact SUVs

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ByDave Kunz via KABC logo
Sunday, August 4, 2019
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Kia has some big SUV news this year, with the launch of their Telluride, a large, family-size model. It's the biggest sport utility vehicle they've ever made.

Kia has some big SUV news this year with the launch of their Telluride, a large, family-size model. It's the biggest sport utility vehicle they've ever made.

But there's other big Kia news, at the other end of their size scale.

The cute, boxy Soul has been redesigned, and that wasn't an easy task. How do you do a styling revamp, while keeping a shape that's so distinctive?

This is actually the second time Kia faced that dilemma, as the first redesign happened in 2014. The original design came out in 2010. For the second generation, the Soul managed to maintain its original look and yet appear different, too.

Designers achieved that same type of success yet again with the new 2020 third generation.

There are distinctive new elements, like the narrowed headlight assemblies, and a new interpretation of the Soul's familiar taillight treatment. And, standard and available safety technology that the first 2010 Soul never dreamed of having.

Prices for the new Soul vary from under $18,000 for an LX model with a 6-speed manual transmission, to over $27,000 for a fully-loaded, turbocharged GT-Line example.

This new update of the funky little "box" should do well, as it fits into the size category of SUV that so many are buying now. That is, smaller, not too expensive, and fairly fuel-efficient.

And for ultimate fuel efficiency, Kia will again offer an electric version of the Soul that runs strictly on battery power. The range is improved this time around; the new Soul EV should go well over 100 miles on a charge. Maybe over 200 miles, based on current technology on other Kia electrified vehicles. Official range numbers are still to come, as the Soul EV doesn't go on sale until 2020.

One thing's for sure, the Kia Soul is the last vehicle standing in the once-broad category of boxy compact SUVs.

One by one, the others have all fallen by the wayside. The Scion xB, and to a lesser extent the xA, led the charge more than 15 years ago. They're gone, as is the Scion brand entirely.

Next up was the Honda Element, but that's gone too, as it was discontinued after 2011. And, Nissan joined in with the oddly-styled Cube as its boxy compact in 2009, but it was only sold through 2014. (The Nissan Cube does live on in its home market of Japan, however.)

So the little Kia Soul has a big mission. Keep its distinctive shape for buyers who want that look, and keep the boxy car category alive, all by itself.

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