IT’S A BEST BUY BECAUSE:
Soul delivers impressive passenger room, flexible cargo space, and lots of upscale available features in a tidy, pleasant-to-drive package.
All-wheel drive isn’t available, some desirable tech and safety features are restricted to the pricier top-line models, and the turbo-engine transmission’s shifts can feel clunky.
With its slightly elevated ride height and tall “box-on-wheels” body shape, the Kia Soul straddles the line between a subcompact car and a subcompact SUV. We previously categorized the Soul as a subcompact car, but with the vehicle’s redesign for 2020, we have moved it to our subcompact SUV category. Kia had intended to offer an all-electric Soul EV version in California and other select U.S. states for 2020, but that vehicle has been delayed until at least 2021.
WHAT IS IT?
The Soul is Kia’s boxy, whimsically styled subcompact 4-door wagon, and it kicks off its third generation for 2020. The all-new platform is 1.2 inches longer in wheelbase and 2.2 inches longer overall than the outgoing model, and maximum cargo capacity is increased by 5 cubic feet. The revamped model lineup consists of LX, S, X-Line, GT-Line, EX, and GT-Line Turbo trim levels—the X-Line has rugged-looking, SUV-like trim, and the GT-Line has sportier-looking styling elements. A 147-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder is standard on all but the GT-Line Turbo; it can be paired with a 6-speed manual (standard on LX) or a continuously variable transmission (optional on LX, standard on the others). The GT-Line Turbo comes standard with a 201-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter four that is paired exclusively with a 7-speed dual-clutch automated-manual transmission. Available safety features include forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, lane change assist, driver-attention warning, blind-spot alert, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, and high-beam assist. Other available features include wireless device charging, dual automatic climate control, 10.25-inch HD touchscreen with split-screen function, 8-inch head-up display, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, 640-watt Harman Kardon audio system, and the ability to pair two Bluetooth devices at the same time.
Pretty much everything—the Kia Soul is completely redesigned for 2020.
The base 2.0-liter engine is rated at 25 mpg city/31 mpg highway with the 6-speed manual transmission and 27/33 with the CVT automatic. The turbo 1.6 engine is rated at 27/32. During Consumer Guide® evaluation, an X-Line returned 31.7 mpg and a GT-Line Turbo averaged 30.4 mpg, both in tests that consisted of about 75 percent highway driving. All Souls use regular-grade gas.
VALUE IN CLASS
The Kia Soul has always offered a compelling blend of personality and practicality; with the Soul’s redesign for 2020, its personality gets a bit edgier and the practicality is a bit better, thanks to the slightly larger dimensions. The redesign also brings improved all-around refinement and some welcome new features—but some of those features aren’t available on lower-line models. Shoppers looking for extra zip should consider the GT-Line Turbo… it’s the priciest model in the lineup, but its turbocharged engine is one of the gutsiest in the class, with no significant penalty in fuel economy compared to the base engine.