With hype around the 2015 Jeep Renegade maxing out, Kia reckons it can come play with its own spin on the micro "off-roader" idea. The Kia Trail'ster concept has meaty cladding, a roll-back softtop, and a drivetrain that makes it a very interesting proposition, especially if you value efficiency over dirt driving.

What Kia calls "the ultimate escape vehicle" really does look like a Korean take on the Jeep Renegade, and it looks good. Actually, I see a little Range Rover in the front fender and hood. (Those vents?)

The "e-AWD" powertrain is a turbo 1.6 gas engine driving the front wheels, burping out 185 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque. As predicted, an electric motor making 35 horsepower and 100 lb-ft of torque moves the rear axle as a supplement.

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That rear axle comes online when extra traction is needed, or more oomph for hard acceleration. An "energy recovery system" charges the vehicle and lets it run in full-electric mode at low speed, giving the Trail'ster "potentially 30% better fuel economy than a current Soul."

Kia's Executive VP of sales and marketing Michael Sprague explains "the original idea for the Soul was born at our California design studio nearly a year ago," and basically they've never stopped messing with it.

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More significantly, he mentioned the Kia Soul EV's availability "would be expanding across the US in 2015."

Production possibilities for the Trail'ster? "It's near-term look at how the Soul could easily evolve." So... maybe? (Probably not).

Images by Tavarish


Andrew P. Collins is Jalopnik's off-road and adventure guy. Shoot him an email or hit him up on Twitter to talk trucks.