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2020 Kia Soul


One of Kia’s most popular models, the Soul compact SUV/wagon, has received a major do over for the 2020 model year. Most dramatic is the exterior styling, particularly in the front area. Gone is the narrow rectangular grille and headlight layout. The new grille is lowered and infinitely bigger with super narrow headlights above it, and running lights flanking the lowered portion of the grille. The flanks have some different side sculpturing, and the windows have somewhat different shapes. Perhaps the greatest changes are in the rear liftgate area. The taillights are much bigger and swing into the liftgate, and the rear window is much bigger than the previous edition. With our GT test drive model some red strips are placed on various places on the body, and large good looking 18 inch alloy wheels are part of that package.

On the power front, there are multiple choices depending on whether you want reasonable power or much more. A six-speed manual is the basic transmission, but more popular is the gearless continuously variable transmission (CVT) with the basic 2.0 liter 4 cylinder powerplant, which produces 147 horsepower. Power goes to the front wheels. Adding more thrust comes from a 1.6-liter turbocharged four cylinder, which develops 201 horsepower that works through a seven speed automatic transmission. With the smaller and more popular engine and transmission, the 0-60 is a reasonable time of 8 seconds. Pricing starts at about $18,000. Kia has a good basic warranty of 5 years/60,000 miles and a powertrain warranty of 10 years/100,000 miles.

Inside, the front seats have reasonably high bolstering and are quite comfortable and feature some interesting patterns in the center. Various metal pieces are spread around the interior. Like most these days, either 7-inch or an optional 10-inch video screen is in the center of the dash, and is controlled by touch or some dials and buttons below it. Smart phone apps can be tied into the screen. Simple to operate air conditioning dials and controls are below that area. A much smaller video screen is found in the dashpod with information that can be brought up with buttons on the steering wheel. The data includes average fuel mileage, range, temperatures, etc.

Moving on back to row two, there is a reasonable amount of room with a tall roofline and flat floor. Depending how tall the rear passengers are, the front seats may have to moved up a little. Assist handles are built into the ceiling. The liftgate is unlocked with a button on the key and/or with a touch of the button the bottom of the door. The rear storage area is relatively deep and provides a good amount of room. And, of course, the rear seat backs are split 60/40 and can be easily dropped for handling big items.

On the road, the suspension does a reasonable job of handling rough roads given the short wheelbase. Some odd road conditions are felt on occasion. The steering is light, direct and to the point. With 18-inch wheels handling corners is not a problem. Even though the CVT gearless transmission hides any sense of “gear” shifts, it can be manually shifted by moving the gear lever to the left and moving it up and down. The engine can be heard, but it is not too intrusive unless truly pushed. Rather surprisingly for an inexpensive SUV, there are two driving modes (normal and sport) that are activated by a push of a button and affects acceleration. A traffic stop on/off engine system saves fuel and is reasonably smooth in operation but can be turned off. With this sub model, there are a number of safety systems, which deal with collision avoidance assistance, lane assistance, and driver attention warnings.

For 2020, Kia has upgraded the looks of the Soul and provides a fair amount of useful standard equipment. So, maybe with 2020 there is less need for soul searching for a small SUV/wagon with the introduction of this version.

Tech Specs

Model: Small SUV/wagon 5 passengers.
Price: $17,490, as tested $21,550.
Powertrain: Test model 2.0 liter 4 cylinder, 147 hp. CVT transmission. Front wheel drive.
Fuel mileage: Test model, 30 mpg average, 27 mpg city, 33 mpg highway.
Performance: Test model, 0-60: 8 seconds.

High Beams
Nice looking restyling.
Respectable pricing.
Good mix of performance and fuel mileage.

Low Beam
Rear seating area has no armrest, cupholders, or air vents like some in this class.


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