Kia Aims for Buzz with the Trail'ster Concept: 2015 Chicago Auto Show

Feb 12, 2015 10:00 AM EST | Jeff Jablansky

Tags Kia, Kia Soul

The all-wheel-drive mini-crossover race is heating up in North America, and Kia is eager to jump in with its own entry. Unveiled today at the Chicago auto show, the Trail'ster concept is Kia's turbocharged, EV-capable potential bid for an off-road-looking entry.

What is it?

Kia started with the Soul to build the Trail'ster, lifting it 2.5 inches higher and then turbocharging its engine and adding an all-wheel drive system. The Soul's base 1.6-liter engine morphs in the Trail'ster to offer 185 turbocharged hp, combined with a 35-hp, rear-mounted electric motor—and it can even run on full electric mode. The Trail'ster's styling errs on the side of goofy, but the Trail'ster could have a serious shot at production.

What's new?

The Trail'ster is a concept car new to the auto show circuit, but its Soul origins are rather humble. The Trail'ster is distinguished by a massive front fascia with oversized running lights, a revised rear end, and a cornucopia of clever graphics. It's distinguished equally by its powertrain and unusual styling.

Most fascinating feature?

The all-wheel drive system is neat, and the turbocharged engine will give the Soul a helpful boost on the freeway, but we think the most interesting detail is the Trail'ster's brown interior treatment, which Kia describes as "pillow-embossed."

Can I buy it?

For now, the Trail'ster remains a concept car, but all of the key componentry seems like it's ready for primetime.

The Chicago auto show media preview is happening this week. Stay with us for up-to-the-minute coverage of all the action, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Kia, Trail'ster, Soul, hatchback, auto

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