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STYLING | 9 out of 10
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The Car Connection
The original Kia Soul is a tough act to follow. It’s one that was central to the brand’s “design-led transformation” that started a few years ago and is still happening now to some other models in the lineup.
So what did Kia do this time? It gave the Soul a little more personality where it was arguably lacking last time—inside—without going overboard with it, and then evolved the exterior look, making the flared wheel wells a little more subtle and graceful, smoothing out the sides a bit, and then giving it an all-new look in front and in back.
Kia points to the 2012 Track’ster concept car as the point of inspiration for the Soul; it helped set the proportions for the redesigned Soul, and provided a new direction for some of its details and design cues. In front, the new Soul closely apes the look of the Track’ster—especially in the shape of its lower air intake—and with the ‘grille’ and headlamps tucked upward somewhat, the overall visual effect is that the hood is considerably higher, even if it’s not. In back, the look of the hatch has been changed with a new ‘floating’ body-color panel, and strategic blackout areas to draw attention to new, more bulbous, high-contrast tall taillamps. The liftgate opening is now 2.4 inches wider, too.
One thing that hasn’t changed much is the Soul’s roofline and fundamental proportions. Kia notes that the wheelbase and overall width are both up by nearly an inch—and the new model is built on an all-new platform—yet from the side profile, it still has the same abrupt windshield pillar and somewhat canted-back look to the roofline.
Inside, the Soul gets what we would call an all-new look, with a chunky steering wheel, a gauge cluster that’s sportier, and a dash that looks and feels more premium, with soft-touch materials from elbow level on up throughout most of the dash area. Speakers are elevated atop side vents on the dash, and center-stack climate, audio, and infotainment controls are all canted slightly toward the driver. In all, it doesn’t just bring this model in line with other Kia interiors, but it makes this interior more convincingly upscale in look and feel.
Kia redesigned what’s become a design icon, and ended up with an even more handsome vehicle—with an interior that this time sets its own great style.