Click above for more live shots of the Kia Soul in LA

Kia put on quite a show today, prancing out a slew of new Souls at the LA Auto Show. Expected to drop as an early 2010 model in late '09, the new boxy Soul will go head-to-head with the equally-new Nissan Cube for the affections of ex-xB buyers here in the States. While the Cube really goes after the square-edged look, Kia has softened the Soul. The box's rising beltline starts lower in the front and gradually sweeps skyward at the rear, adding a unique look to the little crossover. A standard 1.6L four banger pushes roughly 120 horses through a five-speed manual tranny and an optional 2.0L unit with about 140 horsepower can be mated with either the stick or a four-speed automatic on uplevel models. Each should exceed 30 mpg on the highway.

The Korean automaker promises that there will be an abundant number of customization possibilities for its new Soul and there will be three separate Soul models in addition to the base kit, including the Soul+, Soul! (exclaim) and Soul sport. We think that they may be trying a bit too hard to be young and hip with these odd model designations, but standard auxiliary and USB input jacks in the center console with full iPod control through the steering wheel audio controls strike us as an excellent idea for its target demographic. Details on what each model gets are in the press release pasted after the break.

Related GalleryLA 2008: Kia Soul Live Debut

Related Gallery2010 Kia Soul

Live Photos Copyright ©2008 Jeremy Korzeniewski / Weblogs, Inc.


PRESS RELEASE:

KIA MOTORS AMERICA INTRODUCES ALL-NEW SOUL

Brand-Defining Addition Makes its Debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show


*Soul = Style + ValU + SafeT
*L8st head-trnr will impre$ w/ personality & gr8 options

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 20, 2008 – Kia Motors America (KMA) today announced the North American debut of the all-new and highly anticipated Soul passenger vehicle at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show. Designed in Southern California, the Soul is the newest product offering to join the company's ever-expanding line-up, following the introduction of the all-new Borrego midsize SUV earlier this year. Soul's bold and edgy design is indicative of the new Kia design theme, with more package and styling combinations than any previous Kia vehicle. With Soul's arrival as an early model year 2010 vehicle to the C-Segment, it allows young and young-at-heart buyers to have the freedom to truly personalize and emotionally connect with their vehicle.

"The Soul is for those who love individuality but don't like to be categorized by finding the next best thing," said Michael Sprague, vice president of marketing, KMA. "Indicative of the new design direction of KMA, Soul is an attractive and customizable vehicle for those looking for something with a little more personality than other vehicles on the market today.

Edgy and Confident Exterior

Originally debuted as a concept vehicle at Detroit's North American International Auto Show in 2006, Soul's exterior remains true to the original Soul concept design implying power and strength. With an angled window line, rounded nose, large flared back headlamps and chrome grille, the Soul is given a friendly face and exudes a youthful exuberance for coasting along the beach or cruising downtown city streets, redefining the concept of freedom.

The beltline rises from the front wheel arch to create a gentle wedge shape and continues under and around the rear side window. The rear is dominated by the vertical combination rear lamps set into the body color panel with clear outer lenses. The body and wheel arch crease line extends around the bumper for a tough, not rough, style matching the look from the front.

Available in four trims, Soul, Soul+, Soul! (exclaim) and Soul sport, the versatile five-door offers plenty of standard features. The Soul includes black door handles and side mirrors, body-colored bumpers, rear wiper/washer and 15-inch steel wheels fitted with P195/65R15 tires. Upgrading slightly to the Soul+ offers keyless remote entry, solar glass, privacy glass on the rear side and rear windows body-color handles and power side mirrors along with 16-inch alloy wheels with P205/55R16 tires. Enhancing to the Soul! adds power moonroof, fog lights, 18-inch alloy wheels furnished with P225/45R18 tires, while the dynamic Soul sport features side sills, rear spoiler, 18-inch alloy wheels, unique front and rear fascias, wholly personifying the sporty, urban look Soul embodies.

Spacious, State-of-the-Art Interior

Inside the cabin is where Soul really shows its power to surprise. For those who want a personal lounge on wheels or an efficient cargo carrier with 14 storage zones, Soul has it covered. While Soul offers a relatively small footprint, it offers a surprisingly spacious interior. Passengers will find comfort in the roomy cabin. All five adult passengers will find ingress and egress simple and effortless, credited to tall doors and a high seating position, and each Soul will be able to have its own personality thanks to multiple options for interiors with different colors, fabrics and audio system packages available for selection.

The Soul's interior design is decidedly influenced by the car's highly specified audio system.

An uncluttered dashboard with a three-dial instrument cluster, LCD illumination, a floating center stack design is the key visual feature and offers enticing access to the AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system outfitted with SIRIUS Satellite Radio capabilities and three months complimentary service1. Standard auxiliary and USB input jacks also can be found in the center console with full iPod® controllability via the audio head unit and steering wheel controls.

Additional standard interior features include a tilt steering column, power door locks, power windows with driver's side auto-down, map lamps and a rear wiper and washer. Stylishly appointed cloth seats provide comfortable seating while a 60/40 split-folding rear seat offers multiple seating and cargo arrangements depending on driver and passenger needs.

Soul+ offers additional standard features including air conditioning, cruise control with steering wheel-mounted controls, Bluetooth® hands-free connectivity, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, privacy glass and tweeter speakers. Available upgrades for the Soul+ trim include an audio upgrade package power moonroof and floor mats, which become standard on the Soul!. Advancing to the Soul! adds unique beige-black interior trim and cloth seats and metal-finish trim. For the Soul! and Soul sport, an Audio Upgrade Package enhances the sound with center speaker, subwoofer and 315-watt external amplifier.

For consumers with more athletic and active lifestyles looking for even more excitement, the Soul sport offers a sport-tuned suspension, metal pedals, unique red-black interior trim with sport cloth seats and metal-finish trim.

Advanced Platform/Chassis

Soul is different, right down to its all-new platform. With its own distinctive style, Soul features front-wheel drive, a high roofline and an unusually long wheelbase. Built on a platform with a wheelbase of 100.4 inches, an overall length of 161.6 inches, an overall width of 70.3 inches and overall height of 63.4 inches the Soul offers a comfortable interior with roomy seating for up to five passengers. With more than 70 percent high-tensile-strength steel to enhance structural strength without adding a lot of weight, the all-new, Kia-engineered body achieves high torsional stiffness, benefiting handling, ride quality and refinement. Additional measures to help ensure good noise vibration and harshness (NVH) qualities are fitted throughout the Soul.

Mounted on the front sub frame that supports the engine and transmission, the Soul is fitted with a fully independent front and twist-beam rear suspension system, with front MacPherson struts and coil springs, designed to deliver responsive handling and an agile ride. In the rear, the Soul suspension is sub-frame-mounted with a transverse torsion beam axle with trailing arms for a smooth ride and minimum intrusion into the cargo space. For optimal space, the rear anti-roll stabilizer bar is mounted inside the torsion beam.

Under-the-Hood Options

Soul offers an agile, smooth and spirited ride. Its 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine is mated to a five-speed manual transmission, which produces approximately 120 horsepower. For those looking for a little more power, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is available with either the five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission. The latter engine produces approximately 140 horsepower, and is available for Soul+, Soul! and Soul sport. Fuel economy for both engines is estimated at 30 or more miles per gallon.

Standard Kia Safety Features

Soul continues to offer the same high level of standard safety equipment as all Kia vehicles, with features such as front seat active headrests, dual front advanced airbags, front seat-mounted and full-length side curtain airbags and a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). An antilock brake system (ABS) with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), electronic stability control (ESC), and rear disc brakes are standard on Soul+, Soul! and Soul sport models.

Industry-Leading Warranty

Like all Kia models, Soul is covered by a comprehensive warranty program, which offers unprecedented consumer protection. Included in this program are a 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, a five-year/60,000-mile limited basic warranty, and a five-year/100,000-mile anti-perforation warranty. A five-year/60,000-mile roadside assistance plan also is part of the comprehensive coverage program.