A Redesign Good for the Soul

The iconic, box-like Kia Soul gets a redesign for 2020, sporting styling changes that include a more aggressive front end with horizontal strips containing daytime running lights. Headlamps are integrated in the bumper while taillights now practically encircle the rear window. The third-generation model rides on a 1.2-inch-longer wheelbase and is 2.2 inches longer, and while this really doesn’t translate into additional usable space, the doors do open a little wider and the rear hatch is a bit larger. Folding down the back seats expands cargo capacity from 24 cubic feet to 62 cubic feet.

Soul is available in base LX, X-Line, S, EX, GT-Line, and GT-Line 16T trim levels plus the all-electric EV. LED projector headlights are standard on the both GT-Lines and are optional on the EX. The X-Line gets tougher-looking bumpers and plastic fender flares. GT-Line has a center exhaust, monochromatic bodywork, and a sportier suspension tune. The GT-Line 16T also gets wider tires on 18-inch alloy wheels and larger front brakes.

Except for the GT-Line 1.6T and EV, all Soul variants are powered by an Atkinson-cycle, 2.0-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine producing 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft torque. The GT-Line 1.6T features a turbocharged 1.6-liter DOHC four-cylinder boasting 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft torque. All 2.0-liter engine cars except the base LX use a new continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The LX has a standard six-speed manual with the CVT optional. GT-Line 1.6T shifts through a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles. All-wheel drive is not available on the Soul. EPA estimated fuel economy numbers are 29 city/35 highway for the 2.0-liter engine with CVT and 27 city/33 highway mpg for the 1.6T.

Forward collision avoidance assist with pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist, driver attention warning, blind spot collision warning, rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist, lane change assist, smart cruise control, and a head-up display are available as standard or optional equipment, but not on an all trims. A 7.0-inch color touchscreen is standard with a new 10.3-inch widescreen unit available. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all trims. The controls on the steering wheel almost rival those on a F1 race car.

Making the 2020 Soul EV more competitive in the electric vehicle space is a driving range more than double that of its predecessor, with the distance traveled between charges EPA rated at 243 miles. This dramatic increase from the EV’s earlier 111-mile range is made possible with a new 64 kWh lithium-ion battery pack with DC fast-charge capability, quite a step up from the previous 30 kWh pack. A single-speed transmission delivers electric power to a 201 horsepower, 291 lb-ft torque permanent-magnet AC motor driving the front wheels. With max torque available from 0 to 3600 rpm, it’s not hard to squeal the tires. This same drivetrain is used in the Kia Niro EV and Hyundai Kona EV. The 2020 Kia Soul model has four drive modes including Eco, Eco+, Normal, and Sport. EPA rates the Soul EV’s efficiency at a combined 114 MPGe.

Soul EV is differentiated from its internal combustion cousins by a painted plastic insert in place of a front grille, a lower set of LED lights, and restyled fascias at both ends. The Soul EV gets its own version of Kia’s UVO infotainment system and a 10.3-inch touchscreen. It includes information on charging and battery status, charging station updates, and scheduled charging functions. Drivers have the ability to remotely plan a trip and send the information, including waypoints, to the car’s navigation system.

The gas-powered 2020 Soul’s base price starts at $17,490 for the LX and tops out at $27,490 for the GT-Line 16T Turbo. Available in late 2019, the new Soul EV will be offered in California EV compliant states at a price to be determined.