Everyone seems to be jumping on the off-road bandwagon, even Kia has launched its own version of an off-road vehicle at the recent Chicago Auto Show. The Trail’ster e-AWD concept is based on the Kia Soul car, but the turbocharged Trail’ster, with its roll-top canvas roof and armored aluminum skid plates is intended to take its owners and passengers into playgrounds of snow, mud, and off-road trails.
Powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that puts out 185 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque, the Trail’ster uses a six-speed automatic transmission matched to an electric all-wheel-drive system on the rear axle. The rear drive system is designed for low-speed assist, enhanced launch acceleration, and improved traction in snow, rain, or off-road conditions.
Kia considers the Trail’ster a hybrid, because it has two power sources (a front gas engine and a rear electric motor) that make up the hybrid system and act together through “the road,” instead of the transmission with a common driveline connection. There is no mechanical link between engine and electric motor. The link between the two is the ground.
Its electric propulsion system (a synchronous permanent magnet electric motor) gets power from a 1.2 kWh Lithium Ion Polymer battery that can send 35 hp and 100 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. That electric motor’s assist brings the Trail’sters total output to to 220 hp and 285 lb-ft of torque. The system also utilizes a Hybrid Starter Generator (HSG) to start/stop the engine as needed (and to feed energy to the high voltage battery), and an electrically driven A/C compressor, which can run when the engine is shut off.
So what do you think? Is this a viable concept that could stand up to real-world off-road conditions? Or is it a publicity stunt? How does it compare to the all-new Jeep Renegade? You tell us in the Comments section below.