SPEAKING OF TARIFFS and trade: A 2020 Kia Soul, congenital in Gwangju, South Korea, accustomed at my aperture a few weeks ago cutting a amount tag that aloof couldn’t be beat: $28,710 for the hot-hatch adaptation (GT-Line 1.6 Turbo), with a active four (201 hp) and a ripping seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. This car comes with aggregate except radii: sunroof, navigation, 10.25-inch blow screen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, wireless buzz charger, forward-collision and avoidance-assist, leather-wrapped council wheel, LED headlamps and taillamps. Loaded.
Are you attractive for a starter-family car? Safe, practical, connected, not too dear. Your ship—or your aircraft container—has appear in.
The approach of tariffs, such as the Trump administering is aggressive for alien European cars, is that, faced with college prices, American car buyers will added about-face to domestically fabricated vehicles. But will they? The U.S.-based car makers accept annihilation to analyze with the Germans in agreement of product; and they accept annihilation to attempt with our Soul’s amount proposition—not alike if you added a 25% duty. How do you aboveboard that circle?
With its history abiding in affordable sedans and hatches, the Kia casting has struggled to bolt up with U.S. consumers’ contempo bend adjoin the large, from cars to crossovers and SUVs. As if to accent the assignment learned, Kia is now architecture an XL-sized three-row ancestors SUV, the Telluride, at its operations in West Point, Ga. Kia additionally has a abscess casting of crossovers, including the Niro EV, which I awful recommend.
That leaves a brace of alluring outliers, both congenital in the home market: The Stinger GT action sedan, which is currently nailed to dealership floors admitting its magnanimous MSRP of $39,300; and our analysis car, the third bearing of the auto that debuted in 2009, alveolate adjoin added erect funsters like Scion xB, Honda Element and Nissan Cube.
Then and now, the Soul is an arresting packaging solution, about illusionistic in its amplitude efficiency. Compared with the new Chevrolet Blazer—GM’s beautiful midsize crossover—the Soul is about 25 inches shorter, bonanza to bumper, but has almost the aforementioned commuter aggregate and max burden accommodation with the seats folded. Of course, aback you admeasurement in cubic feet, cubic things accept an advantage.
The Soul is additionally a half-ton lighter, thereabouts, quicker, slicker, added ammunition able (on the adjustment of 30%) and night-and-day added fun to drive. So artlessly you will appetite to pay bags added for the commensurable Chevy.
The Soul starts at $17,490 for the LX trim, powered by a 2.0-liter four (147 hp/132 lb-ft) commutual with either a six-speed chiral or continuously capricious automated transmission. The trim airing ends with the hyperventilating GT-Line 1.6 Turbo. Those who appetite to bedrock the box may additionally accept the X-Line, spec’ed out with adventure-themed cues including lower body-cladding and blended “over-fenders.”
Along the way the Soul picks up a ton of berth electronics, including the ablaze landscape-oriented blow screen, which communicates calmly with adaptable devices, alike if the buzz is in the wireless charging compartment. As it was with the aboriginal hamster-mobiles, the new Soul’s complete arrangement comes with its own dancing ablaze show, the adroit pulsations of blush aflame through the aberrant lighting. You can about-face that off, I’m admiring to report.
“ ‘The Soul is a half-ton lighter than Chevy’s Blazer—and quicker, slicker and night-and-day added fun to drive.’ ”
The aboriginal impressions from the driver’s bench aback a actual solid bit of structure. The aperture bang complete is affable and non-trivial, the berth ambient quiet and able-bodied padded. The federal government hasn’t yet rated the Soul for crash; but the company’s advance in ultra-high-strength steel—Hyundai, Kia’s accumulated parent, operates its own animate comminute in Ulsan, South Korea, authoritative tailored HSS stock—can be acquainted in the Soul’s bones.
Urban parents would be able-bodied advised: The Soul GT-Line’s quick council arrangement and abbreviate wheelbase accomplish it absolutely affable to park; and the rear doors accessible advanced for acceptable admission to accouchement and car seats. I brainstorm this little car threading through the drove of day affliction declivity lanes in the mornings—the jump lamp is lit, the kids are continuing in the door. Now, Jump! Go go go!—then Mom and her blockheaded abettor nick bottomward an alley, abaft clouds of flak.
The added abiding consequence is the way the sportified Soul hauls its boxlike appendage around—literally, aback it is a front-wheel drive car with about 60% of weight on the advanced tires. It’s a riot. Launched adamantine from a asleep stop, the car will briefly broad and accomplish the advanced tires lose traction, abrading and chirping and swiveling in the moment, adjoin the bogging of the absorption control. But again the 18-inch achievement tires acquisition anchor and off it goes, Box your uncle, from 0-60 mph in beneath seven seconds.
The turbo-four will ball its audacity out to 5,000 rpm, and the seven-speed dual-clutch—itself an aberration in its class—can rap out accessory changes like a little Porsche. This affair is filet de hamster.
Despite the actuality that the Soul somehow looks like it ability abatement over in a annealed breeze, it negotiates corners with anatomy cycle actual able-bodied contained. The e-steering acknowledgment varies from quick to quicker—with the Action approach selected—and the little car’s turn-in appearance couldn’t be added accommodating nor agreeable.
Nobody is activity to put babyish in a box. Except maybe Kia.
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