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Kia Soul: All-New for 2020

By Arv Voss, October 12th, 2019

Kia's 2020 Soul lineup continues to evolve with its iconic form and silhouette. Now on an all-new platform this popular subcompact econobox hatch crossover displays a more progressive design, modernized technology, and enhanced model diversity.

-- OVERVIEW

The new Soul has managed to retain its level of out-of-the-box "funkiness." With the design similarities of the latest compact boxy transports, it might be appropriate to view them as a styling exercise that hearkens back to the fine art world's "Cubist" movement.

strong>2020 Kia Soul model offerings include: LX, GT-Line 2.0, S, X-Line, and EX trim. All models are powered by the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder -- and all are FWD only.

-- TWO POWER SOURCES

The base power source for all Souls is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that delivers 147 horsepower while developing 132 lb.-ft. of torque. Optionally available in the GT-Line is a 201-horsepower turbocharged engine.

The base model LX comes with either a six-speed manual gearbox with overdrive or a two-speed CVT with overdrive. All other models come only with the two-speed CVT, which Kia refers to as an Intelligent Variable Transmission.

-- FRESH DESIGN ENHANCEMENTS

The Soul displays a reverse wedge greenhouse with blacked-out "A" and "B" pillars, giving the roof a floating effect. Wheelwell arches are highly pronounced in the form of fenders. The body is slab-sided, but features character accent lines and trim to add pizzazz. The box-like profile and stubby nose are instantly recognizable, and some additional funky flair is served up by taillights that now nearly completely surround the rear window, and a somewhat sinister frontal impression is displayed by the large menacing scoop-like grille. The interior features a floating center stack, driver oriented gauges, and a comfortable cabin ambience.

-- COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE

The 2020 Kia Soul is full of features that are standard equipped, including a rearview camera and Kia's UVO infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen, a six-speaker audio system, a USB port, Bluetooth, and both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

-- AS TESTED

My test Soul came in X-Line trim with the 2.0-liter engine and IVT with a base price of $21,490. It varies from the rest of the Soul stable with unique styling focused on giving it a more rugged, off-road, and trail-ready look that's primarily cosmetic, as it doesn't have any added off-roading capability or advantage over the rest of the lineup.

-- PERFORMANCE

The 2020 Kia Soul X-Line is fun to drive and represents practical transportation in a package that displays a whimsical, yet stylish flair. Acceleration is not blistering but is adequate for the job at hand with some spirit thrown in for good measure. The electric power steering is speed variable, and is responsive enough to create smiles through the twisters. The ride quality is comfortably compliant, but the boxy form can offer a substantial target in heavy crosswinds. The IVT transmission shifts nicely though many gearheads still prefer a manual gearbox.

--THE FINAL TAKE

Soul offers lots of thoughtful storage nooks and crannies, along with cool, quirky features such as the audio speakers that flash mood lighting to match the bass notes. Rear-seat passengers will find sufficient space behind even tall front-seat occupants.

Add the attributes to the 10-year/100,000 mile limited powertrain warranty and 5-year/60,000 mile 24-hour roadside assistance program, and the Soul on any level provides a sensible, value-packed compact ride.

--Arv Voss, Motor Matters

Specifications

Base price $21,490 (as tested: $22,615)
Curb weight 2,844 lbs.
Displacement 2.0-liter
Engine type 16-valve 4-cyl. w/MPFI
Epa mileage rating 27 mpg city, 33 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 14.3 gal.
Horsepower (net) 147 at 6200 rpm
Overall length 165.2 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 132 at 4500 rpm
Transmission IVT
Vehicle type 5-passenger compact crossover
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