When you think of automotive icons, images of the Porsche 911 or the Mercedes-Benz G-class might spring to mind, but the funky Kia Soul just might be worthy of iconic status as well. While it's all-new, the 2020 Kia Soul doesn't stray far away from its winning formula: it's a brashly boxy front-wheel-drive crossover SUV with inspired styling and a great price. Despite a host of new rivals attempting to shoulder into the Soul's territory, we still happily recommend the Kia to friends and family looking for a value-packed box on wheels.
What's New for 2020?
The 2020 model year marks an all-new generation of Kia's shoe-box crossover, and while it receives all new sheetmetal it retains the basic shape and attitude that has made it a favorite since its introduction. The interior is similarly sized to the outgoing model but features a styling refresh as well as improved material quality. The battery-powered Soul EV is slated to join the lineup in 2021.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
- LX: $18,610
- S: $21,410
- GT-Line: $21,410
- X-Line: $22,610
- EX: $23,810
- GT-Line Turbo: $28,610
We'd recommend either the GT-Line or X-Line models—both mid-way through the Soul lineup—as they're similarly priced but offer two distinct styles. The GT-Line's body-color exterior trim, bright-red lower body accents, and 18-inch wheels gives the Soul a sporty look, while the X-Line's black plastic fender flares, rugged lower-body accents, and available earth-tone color palette makes it look more off-road ready.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
There are two engines available on the 2020 Soul, starting with the base 147-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that can be had with either a six-speed manual or continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). At our test track, a Soul X-Line with the CVT needed 8.0 seconds to reach 60 mph, but it doesn't feel underpowered in normal driving. In fact, the base engine feels peppy around town, and the CVT willingly selects lower gear ratios for extra passing power. The top-spec GT-Line Turbo model comes with a 201-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder and a seven-speed automatic transmission, which snapped off a quick 6.4-second zero-to-60-mph time at our test track.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
Depending on configuration, the Soul carries an EPA fuel economy rating as high as 35 mpg highway and as low as 25 mpg city—not bad for a seemingly non-aerodynamic box on wheels. The Soul's two key rivals—the Nissan Kicks and the Hyundai Venue—offer similar highway fuel-economy ratings but both offer significant savings in the city mpg department, carrying ratings of 31 and 30 mpg respectively. We put two different Soul models through our 200-mile highway fuel economy test and, surprisingly, it was the turbocharged GT-Line Turbo that did the best with a 33 mpg result. An X-Line model, powered by the non-turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder managed 30 mpg.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The Soul's upright body provides a spacious interior with plenty of room for people and cargo. Kia's designers have incorporated enough youthful cheekiness inside to match the Soul's fashion-forward exterior, including textured door panel inserts and colorful trim pieces. Additional goodies, such as ambient lighting, a wireless smartphone charging pad, a head-up display, push-button ignition with keyless entry, and heated seats and steering wheel are optional. As with the model that came before, the 2020 Soul offers plenty of room for customization, with two-tone paint jobs and a plethora of interior color schemes. Behind the rear seats, the tall-roofed Soul provided enough space for seven carry-on suitcases to stack in the cargo area; with all seats folded—it should be noted that the Soul's back seats do not fold flat—we were able to fit 50 cases. The Venue, with its smaller trunk and tighter rear seat space managed to fit just four cases behind the rear seat and a mere 17 in total.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Touchscreen infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability is standard and comes with either a 7.0- or 10.3-inch display with Kia's latest UVO infotainment interface. Unlocking the larger 10.3-inch display requires upgrading to the EX or GT-Line Turbo model; doing so also adds SiriusXM satellite radio, in-dash navigation, and real-time traffic monitoring.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) hasn't released crash-test results for the 2020 Soul, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has and the boxy Kia did well, earning the agency's Top Safety Pick honor. Kia isn't offering any driver-assistance features as standard on the base LX trim but many of those features are standard on the next-step-up S model. Key safety features include:
- Available automated emergency braking with forward collision warning
- Available lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist
- Available adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
While the Soul offers Kia's well-known 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty, the Hyundai Venue and Kona models offer the same coverage plus three years' worth of complimentary scheduled maintenance.
- Limited warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 10 years or 100,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance