2020 Kia Soul Pros and Cons Review: The Funky Box Comes Into its Own
- Excellent CVT tuning
- Iconic styling remains
- Surprising ride and handling
- Lots of wind noise
- Weakening value proposition
- Slightly cheap interior materials
As the last box on the shelf, the 2020 Kia Soul is in a class of its own. Now in its third generation, the Soul charms with its utility, character, and commendable road manners. Underpinned by a new platform and sporting a recognizable yet fresh exterior design, the 2020 Kia Soul is a quirky underdog playing in the big leagues.
Like its predecessors, the 2020 Kia Soul polarized opinions the moment we laid eyes on it. MotorTrend en Español managing editor Miguel Cortina wasn’t a fan of the front-end design. On the opposite end of the spectrum, guest judges (and noted design experts) Chris Theodore and Ian Callum liked the car’s latest evolution. “A refreshing update of the original,” Theodore said. Callum described the Soul’s looks as honest, fresh, and “done by people who know what they’re doing.” Once inside, executive editor Mark Rechtin described the Soul’s interior as “clunky and chunky, but in a cool way.”
In trade for the wind noise its cubelike proportions create, the 2020 Kia Soul has a roomy interior despite its small exterior footprint. Theodore appreciated the accommodating front and rear seats, which easily fit four adults. Respectable cargo capacity gives you plenty of flexibility for hauling stuff, especially with the cargo floor in its lowest position and rear seats folded. The logical cabin layout and a user-friendly infotainment system minimize the learning curve with the Soul’s controls piped through the large 10.3-inch touchscreen.
Cool details such as the red trim and contrast stitching in the GT-Line Turbo add a sense of youthfulness. Even the X-Line’s more conventional metallic-look trim garnered praise from Detroit editor Alisa Priddle for breaking up the sea of black plastic. Pulsating ambient lighting returns and now extends to the door trim. Unfortunately, that’s only available on the range-topping model. The rest of the lineup doesn’t get this, which is a shame considering how much character the Soul has. Although international bureau chief Angus MacKenzie noted, “Memo to Toyota: This is how you do quirky,” the material quality could use improvement. News editor Alex Nishimoto described some interior cabin bits as feeling “slightly low rent.”
The 2020 Kia Soul’s sophisticated road manners surprised our judges. Ride quality, in particular, impressed—especially considering gas-powered Souls use an old-school torsion-beam rear suspension. Big potholes on our Tehachapi road loop didn’t even register on the Soul X-Line, Nishimoto said. Even the GT-Line Turbo had a compliant ride despite its sportier suspension calibration and 18-inch wheels shod in tires with less sidewall. When the roads got twisty, the 2020 Kia Soul happily tackled them. “Such great fun in spirited driving conditions,” editor-in-chief Ed Loh said. “The Soul really holds its own.”
The well-tuned CVT paired with the base 2.0-liter I-4 is also a surprise. MacKenzie described it as “one of the best in the business, adroitly working the torque so the engine doesn’t scream and moan under heavy load.” Opt for the GT-Line Turbo if you’d like more speed. The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic could still use some fine tuning. Technical director Frank Markus found that it doesn’t downshift to a lower gear when you’re approaching a corner, even in Sport mode.
Although the 2020 Kia Soul still comes with a long list of standard equipment, its value proposition has weakened slightly. Only the range-topping GT-Line Turbo gets the full driver assistance suite, and the lower trims only get certain features. Base models of the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla get nearly everything, further highlighting that the Soul isn’t as strong in the bang-for-your-buck department as it used to be.
|2020 Kia Soul (X-Line)||2020 Kia Soul GT-Line|
|Base Price/As Tested*||$22,535/$22,665||$21,335/$28,765|
|Power (SAE net)||147 hp @ 6,200 rpm||201 hp @ 6,000 rpm|
|Torque (SAE net)||132 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm||195 lb-ft @ 1,500 rpm|
|Accel, 0-60 mph||6.9 sec||6.7 sec|
|Quarter Mile||15.2 sec @ 91.3 mph||15.2 sec @ 92.9 mph|
|Braking, 60-0 mph||118 ft||119 ft|
|Lateral Acceleration||0.86 g (avg)||0.83 g (avg)|
|MT Figure Eight||27.5 sec @ 0.61 g (avg)||26.9 sec @ 0.66 g (avg)|
|EPA City/Hwy/Comb||27/33/30 mpg||27/32/29 mpg|
Source : Stefan Ogbac Link