2013 New York Auto ShowJust the Facts:
- The redesigned 2014 Kia Soul will be one of three world debuts for the Korean automaker at the 2013 New York Auto Show.
- The Soul's styling change is so restrained some shoppers may not realize the car is redesigned.
- Kia will expand the 2014 Forte line with the introduction of a coupe, and the Korean automaker will debut the restyled 2014 Optima.
But the Soul's styling changes are so evolutionary that some shoppers may be hard pressed to notice the difference between the 2013 and 2014 models, one Kia insider told Edmunds.
The 2014 Soul's unveiling will take place the last week of March at New York's Jacob Javits Convention Center. The Korean automaker also will unveil the restyled 2014 Optima and the 2014 Forte coupe, a new addition to the line. The Kia Optima was last redesigned in 2010.
The coupe is based on the redesigned Forte sedan that was introduced in November at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show. A five-door hatchback Forte, also a new addition to the model line, was introduced last week at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show. Sales begin later this year.
The Soul is a popular vehicle in the United States and globally. Last year it was Kia's No. 2 selling vehicle here with nearly 116,000 sales. The Optima held the No. 1 spot here last year with nearly 153,000 sales.
The Soul's styling has been essentially unchanged since its introduction here in 2009. After four years of sales here, Kia's U.S. operations were expecting the redesigned Soul would have noticeable changes in styling that still preserved the character of the car, according to a Kia source who asked not to be identified. Additionally, the introduction of a second model was favored by Kia's U.S. operations, a model that would bring new buyers to the brand.
Neither is planned by the automaker's headquarters, the Kia source said. The car is assembled in Korea.
So subtle are the styling changes, the Kia insider said U.S. shoppers and current Soul owners may fail to see the design differences between the 2013 and 2014 model cars until they are placed side-by-side. Kia's headquarters in Korea decided that more noticeable styling changes might hurt Soul sales outside the United States.
In an effort to help maintain U.S. sales momentum, Kia's U.S. team requested that a second Soul model be added to line, a model that would create a buzz for the brand. Kia has been sending signals over the past several years that an expansion of the Soul line is imminent. Today, only one model is offered, a five-door hatchback. In past years, Kia has shown a three-door hatchback concept as well as a pickup-like concept for carrying surfboards or an all-terrain vehicle. There also has been talk about a convertible.
The source said an additional Soul model has been put on the back burner and the odds of approval are unclear.
Edmunds says: Kia's strategy for the Soul is unusual. The industry generally makes noticeable changes in a model's design every four to six years. The styling strategy for the 2014 Soul will make it difficult for Kia to attract repeat customers.