2020 Kia Soul
For two generations, Kia created a fun-looking urban crossover that has taken to the heart of its owners. The boxy Soul served the world as something completely different, while being extremely practical, funky, and fun to drive. It also helped to have some hamster mascot to add to the marketing blitz for this cute little crossover.
For 2020, Kia trotted out its third generation Soul. While it may seem like the same old Soul we’ve known for two decades, there is something utterly different. If one indication tells you how different this Soul will be to its previous generations, just look at its latest marketing campaign for it? Do you see any hamsters? Nope. Kia has replaced their cute hamsters for a chameleon.
The chameleon represents the evolution of one of Kia’s most popular models, while making some shape shifting moves to keep its loyal customers on its toes.
We were fortunate to worked with one of the first 2020 Souls on the road – an X-Line. We figured we find out how much this chameleon has changed from the fun, funky, and familiar Soul we’ve known since 2009.
The first thing you will notice is the front end. Kia has changed the lighting signature completely, bring the main headlamps to the same level as the large lower grille. The upper lamps are now daytime running lights and turn signals. On some models, fog lamps are in small bulbs on each end of the lower grille. The upper grille has been narrowed in height.
Towards the rear of the Soul, there is now a floating roof applique that now bridges the C pillar glass with the upright rear hatch area. For 2020, Kia also redesigned the hatch itself, by sending the taillamps around the lower part of the glass. The rear bumper now sports an integrated diffuser design for a sportier look. Overall, you can tell that Kia got serious about their Soul’s look with plenty of maturation without detracting from its original shape and image.
The same chameleon-like changes continue inside. In past Kia Souls, occupants were entertained by a myriad of shapes that were both ergonomic and entertaining. Far from normal, the 2020 Soul may feel mainstream, but there are still quirks in the design that will delight everyone. In the X-Line, you get an all-black interior with some satin-chrome accents. The overall instrument panel design is well-designed with a large instrument cluster and an improved touchscreen for the infotainment system. The switches have also improved with great touch and logic.
The cloth front seats offer plenty of bolstering and support for everyone. There is plenty of space for both front and rear passengers to get comfortable. Cargo space is generous with 24.2 cubic feet behind the rear seats with Kia’s trademark upright liftgate making loading and unloading easy. Though, watch the step down from the bumper when rolling items in and out. On he plus side, the 2020 Soul offers a lot of personal storage places for mobile devices and so forth.
Most of the 2020 Soul models are powered by a 147-horsepower, direct injected 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. This engine is the best base engine ever installed in a Soul – it is responsive, quick, and can move this 2,844-pound small crossover very well.
New for this engine is a continuous variable transmission, which is actually very good offering solid shifts all around. Kia stated that the 2020 Soul with this driveline can average 27 MPG in the city and 33 MPG in the highway. The Soul continues to be offered with front-wheel-drive only.
Ride quality is good. You may feel some bumps on the road, the but the Soul’s suspension does a good job absorbing them. Handling is pretty good, too. Steering is pretty tight, offering a good turning radius and response to the road. On-center feel is fine with some softness in the feel of the wheel. The best part of the Soul are the brakes, which are very responsive and offer good pedal feel.
The 2020 Kia Soul lineup starts at $17,490 for a LX model with a manual transmission. Our X-Line tester came with a sticker price of $22,615.
There are some competitors for the 2020 Soul to look at. You have the Toyota C-HR and Nissan Kicks, both currently offered in front-wheel-drive only. However, the list of competitors grows when you include models that offer available all-wheel-drive. These additional models include the Hyundai Kona, Chevrolet Trax, Ford Ecosport, Jeep Renegade, Honda HR-V, and Mazda CX-3.
As the hamster evolves into a chameleon, the 2020 Kia Soul has evolved with a more serious outlook. But, it never strays away from its fun factor that its owners have embraced for years. Just because it’s cute and different, the Kia Soul should ever be taken lightly.
Story Credits: CarSoup Editors