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.

BUT…

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.

WORTH NOTING:

Kia had planned to offer an all-electric Soul EV version, like it did with the previous-generation Soul, in California and other select U.S. states, but the company has dropped those plans and is focusing on its Niro EV crossover instead.

WHAT IS IT?

The Soul is Kia’s boxy, whimsically styled subcompact 4-door wagon, and it was redesigned for the 2020 model year. The lineup consists of LX, S, X-Line, GT-Line, EX, and Turbo trim levels—the X-Line has rugged-looking, SUV-like trim, and the Turbo has sportier-looking styling elements. A 147-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) is standard on all but the Turbo, which comes with a 201-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter four teamed with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic 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.

WHAT’S NEW?

The LX model loses its previously available 6-speed manual transmission, but gains a slightly larger infotainment screen and an optional LX Technology Package that adds several driver-assistance features. S, X-Line, and GT-Line models get a higher level of standard equipment.

FUEL ECONOMY

The base 2.0-liter engine is rated at 28 mpg city/33 mpg highway, and the turbo 1.6 engine is rated at 27/32. During Consumer Guide® evaluation, an X-Line returned 31.7 mpg and a 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 offers a compelling blend of personality and practicality. All Souls are nicely refined overall for their class and price, but some desirable features aren’t available on lower-line models. Shoppers looking for extra zip should consider the 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.

BASE PRICE RANGE $19,190 – $27,790
BODY STYLES 4-Door Wagon
AVAILABLE ENGINES 147-HP, 2.0-Liter 4-Cyl.; 201-HP, Turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-Cyl.
DRIVE WHEELS Front-Wheel Drive
BUILT IN South Korea
EPA FUEL-ECONOMY RANGE 27-35 MPG

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