Kia's been surprising people for a few years now, but maybe the biggest surprise was how the Soul ended up a big-seller when other seemingly similar funky boxes (Scion xB, Nissan Cube) failed.
Sure, the Soul had the Hamstars (love them or hate them, you know who they are and what car they're selling), and marketing matters. But the Soul caught on because the Soul works.
On paper, it had the makings of an unmitigated disaster: Take Acura, the upscale brand of Honda struggling for an identity, and base its new entry-level sedan on the Honda Civic, a compact that has lost its edge to the point that Consumer Reports ripped it apart and Honda felt compelled to rush a thorough refresh...but not until after the debut of the Acura.
Well, disaster averted. The Acura ILX isn't a bad car. And that's what I'd feared most. But it's not a winner, either.