Kia Trail’ster Concept Doubles up on Powertrains

Kia Trail’ster Concept Doubles up on Powertrains

Kia pulled the wraps off of a new concept car in Chicago today, previewing a possible off-road capable version of the Soul.

The Trail’ster concept is based on the Soul, but with an extra 2.5 inches of ground clearance, aluminum skid plates to protect the under-body and an unusual powertrain that offers highly capable, but efficient all-wheel drive. It wears Pirelli Winter Carving tires that are 245 millimeters wide all around and meant for offering traction over sketchy surfaces like snow and mud.

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

Kia refers to its newest concept as a means for people who live in cities to escape their crowded environment in favor of spending time outside. Accordingly, the roof has a retractable cloth panel that offers some of the characteristics you might expect in a convertible. Trail'ster Concept

But what really makes this concept special isn’t visible from the outside, although it does carry a tougher look than the standard Soul.

2015 Chicago Auto Show Coverage

Instead, it has Kia’s 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine under the hood to make 185 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque that it sends to the front wheels. Meanwhile, there’s also an electric motor that can power the rear wheels under acceleration and as a regenerative brake to recoup power while the car is slowing down. The electric motor can carry the car under light acceleration without using any gasoline for an admittedly meager two to three miles, but otherwise it works beside the internal combustion engine for a total system output of 220 hp and 285 lb-ft of torque.

The two systems aren’t mechanically linked and operate independently, which is something that Kia says will enhance fuel efficiency. While the Korean manufacturer didn’t release specific fuel economy estimates, it said the concept can return approximately 25 to 30 percent better city fuel economy and 10 to 15 percent better highway consumption than the 2.0-liter gasoline-powered Soul.

Kia is keeping quiet about production plans for now, but it also looks much closer to being production ready than to other recent concept vehicles like the GT4 Stinger and Track’ster.

GALLERY: Kia Trail’ster Concept


Discuss this story at our Kia Trailster forum

  • smartacus

    100 lb/ft @ zero RPM over the rear axle makes for one potent tow vehicle

  • Exactly, and add that to whatever the gas engine produces around 1500 rpm. Not bad at all. Those little gas engines always need some extra help at low RPM and having the electric motor for that could really help.

  • jim

    O)f course it would be scads better if the engine was a turbo diesel

  • Francesca

    LOL.. the only decent 4 cyl on/off roader Kia ever built was the first gen 4×4 Sportage, which the company inexplicably abandoned in 2003. I’d buy one of those new in a heartbeat if I could. Meanwhile, I’m still driving my ’97, and it has over 220,000 miles on it, many of them offroad. AND: more than fifty thousand of those miles have been while towing a 2,000 pound full standup camping trailer…top THAT, “Soulpeople”!

  • jerryhammons

    The Soul is a great vehicle. In own a bought new 2012. It has been perfect for my needs. But an off road vehicle it is not. Back when the original Sportage convertible was still around, I wanted a new one really bad, as my ’87 Suzuki Samurai was on it’s last legs. I couldn’t quite swing the price of a new one, I should have bought a used one, it would probably still be running. I shudder to think what the price on one of these things might be. The Samurai and original Sportage’s greatest advantage was price and durability. They keep “upgrading” things that don’t need upgrading, and the price just keeps going up and up.