Surprise! It’s another crossover utility vehicle. This time Kia joins in with the squared-off Soul concept that features the crossover-market’s requisite “athletic attitude … geared toward an active lifestyle.” Kia says the Soul concept’s styling is based on the chunky design language of the mega-sized Mesa concept from last year’s Detroit show. We say it looks like Kia borrowed an early version of Ford’s militaristic SYNus concept and just removed the window armor. The Soul is smaller than the Mesa and sports a clever watertight drawer in the back–a place for the active-lifestyle bunch to stow their soaked clothes after a white-water excursion. A large sunroof covering both rows of seats lets the sun shine in on damp adventurers.
The Soul also features front and rear brush guards, suicide doors, and clever interior lighting, along with a laptop computer to make use of the vehicle’s wireless internet network and USB ports. Power for Kia’s foxy box comes from a banal 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine that sends power to the front wheels through a five-speed manu-matic transmission. The homonymous name is a cheesy way of indicating that the concept was designed partly in Kia’s home city of Seoul, South Korea–and that it tries to evoke a bit of James Brown style. The Soul is a cool little box full of hip features, and hopefully Kia will “get up offa that thing” and build it.