The 2020 Kia Soul hatchback scopes in its target audience by aiming at the fringes.
Outre style, light-up speakers, and a low price speak to periphery shoppers who don’t mind trading style for substance. The Soul’s secret? Its hatchback practicality, fuel-efficient powertrains, and quiet ride are right down Broadway for many buyers.
This year, the Soul is new but retains the characteristics that made it a surprise hit in the U.S.
Review continues below
We rate the new version 6.3. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The new Soul is available in LX, X-Line, S, EX, and GT Line trim levels. Kia hasn’t yet said how much each will cost, but base cars will start around $18,500 and top trims will tempt $29,000. The Soul’s sweet spot will be close to $21,000, however.
This year’s Soul is subtly different than the car it replaced. It’s bigger by inches, but the same boxy profile has returned. We like the new face, which is more unified than the outgoing version’s split grille. Different trim levels wear different accents.
Inside, the interior lights are higher and the speaker covers are different—but it’s still functional and comfortable for adults.
The base powertrain is the best: a 2.0-liter that makes 147 horsepower mated to an automatic transmission. The Soul is hardly fast, but it’s agile around town and its gearing makes it a good urban runabout at slower speeds.
The optional engine is a 1.6-liter turbo-4 that’s peaky and teamed with a finicky automatic transmission. We don’t recommend it.
The Soul is also available with an electric powertrain that we cover separately.
The Soul’s pride is in its packaging: it’s comfortable for four adults, with plenty of leg room for 6-footers or taller. The hatchback has an easy entry (which appealed to older buyers who snapped up the last generation in droves) and spacious cargo area that opens up to more than 60 cubic feet with the rear seats folded.
It’s quiet down the road and more comfortable than its low price would suggest.
Most Souls will be safe (we couldn’t help ourselves). Active safety features are included on S trims and higher and include automatic emergency braking and lane-departure warnings. Top GT Lines get the full house: blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, and a head-up display.
Base cars skip active safety and a few creature comforts but offer 16-inch wheels, cloth upholstery, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, one USB port, and a low price.
A big, bright 10.3-inch touchscreen is available on top trims along with more USB ports, a wireless phone charger and interior ambient lighting.