Kia hasn't yet released detailed information relative to the production Soul. It is firmly expected, judging by its size and the stature of the brand, that the Soul will be a surprisingly spacious economy car. Power is unlikely to be plentiful. Features will no doubt be sufficient; but not luxurious. Space.... yes, space matched with a lower price tag and fuel efficiency, is what the buyer wants and will receive with the Soul.

Where else could you find a similar package? Kia will probably feed you all sorts of "segment-breaker", "category-buster", "never-seen-before" sort of talk that makes little sense but seems to generate some attention. Although not a formal 3 To Beat, this post ought to make very clear the nature of the Soul as a terrific introduction to the North American marketplace; but not as anything we're completely unaware of.  

Cross-shoppers aren't looking at Ford's Fusion. Or so you think. The other Ford Fusion, the Euro tall hatchback, has been a perennial boring vehicle but is expected to gain some spice (at least in the design dept.) as all of Ford's Euro vehicles have recently. Imagine the new Fiesta jacked up and boxed out. Very inexpensive and rather small, the Fusion ethos seemed silly a few years ago but increasingly makes more sense.

Volkswagen's Czech outpost has been building the funky Roomster for a short time. Skoda is more successful than they've ever been, improving their sales and profitability ever year. Though you may think the Skoda Roomster hasn't touched down on North American soil.... ever ..... you'd be wrong. Just ask drivers in Quebec City and Halifax.

Up this point, the Soul does sound like a North American uncategorizable vehicle. Is the Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix duo so different? Tall hatchbacks with optional all-wheel drive and a thrifty four-cylinder engine and a low pricetag, they are. What about Scion? 

Despite recent struggles, the Scion xB is very Kia Soul-like. Distantly upmarket, the Meredes-Benz B-class is rather Soulesque, just more minivan like and more expensive. Jeep likely thinks its Compass is a decent alternative to the Soul, despite the fact that most commentators only see the Compass as a decent alternative to walking. Finally, the Chevrolet HHR and Chrysler PT Cruiser are the design-heavy options in the class.

Is the Soul different at all? Sure, it looks very good. Kia will offer deals to consumers that few automakers are willing to provide. Plus, we haven't received full Soul details yet. Expect success, but don't expect to be alarmed when the first Soul drives by and you fail to see something you've ne'er seen a'fore.


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