The 2020 Kia Soul Hits its Marks as a Better Vehicle Overall, But Skip the Turbo

In the event that you picture rhythmic, life-size anthropomorphic hamsters, it really is (let's hope) due to Kia's catchy marketing effort for that Soul subcompact crossover. We won't judge you if it is not. Possibly the Soul is familiar because one recently whisked you from a bar after being summoned by way of a ride-hailing app. Or possibly you or someone you understand owns one; Kia has sold greater than a million from the toaster-shaped things since 2009.

Instantly recognizable and increasingly ubiquitous, the Kia Soul is nearly iconic. Kia thinks it really is iconic, hence why its 2020 redesign is really as careful an evolution as, say, the most recent Porsche 911's. The Kia continues to be affordable (prices start at $18,485), and its own seating remains tall and chairlike, as within an SUV. The slab-sided, boxy profile and snub nose are unmistakable, plus some additional funkiness is supplied by taillights that now practically encircle the trunk window along with a scowling face that resembles a Star Wars stormtrooper helmet.

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Brad FickCar and Driver

Solidly, and Similarly, Packaged
The Soul is really a two-time Car and Driver 10Best Trucks and SUVs award winner just as much because of its intelligent price as its clever interior packaging. There remain gobs of head- and legroom front and rear, despite the fact that the brand new model's 1.2-inch-longer wheelbase and extra 2.2 inches of length neglect to translate into a lot more usable space. Rear legroom is in fact down 0.3 inch, while front legroom is up just 0.2 inch. Still, the trunk seat specifically is spacious and comfortable, having a pleasantly angled seatback. Folding those back seats expands cargo capacity from 24 cubic feet (exactly like before) to 62 cubic feet (a bit more than before). The doors also open just a little wider, and the trunk hatch opening is slightly bigger.

Like many similarly priced cars, the Soul uses hard plastics throughout its interior, although pricier models have significantly more soft-touch bits. Assembly is impeccable, however, and the entire style feels more aspirational than before. Kia maintains an even of quirkiness inside, upgrading the old model's light-up door speakers-which could pulse towards the beat of music-for available LED-backlit panels mounted higher on leading doors that may put on exactly the same show but are actually visible within the daytime.

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Brad FickCar and Driver

An inductive phone charger is optional. It sits in a good cubby prior to the shift lever, above another bin in which a couple of 12-volt outlets and USB ports live, in order to charge multiple devices simultaneously. A 7.0-inch color touchscreen is standard, while a fresh, 10.3-inch widescreen unit can be acquired. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included on both, as well as the system's menu structures are an easy task to navigate. And Kia finally has added some active-safety features towards the Soul's option sheet.

Still Defiantly Un-Crossover-Like
The Soul still isn't available with all-wheel drive, but we don't view that as grounds to revoke its subcompact-crossover card, even though just about any competitor possesses the choice. (We've, in the end, named it our 10Best pick for the reason that segment before.) Most customers with this class are seeking a commanding driving position, not Jeep-like abilities for clambering over rocks. We drove the Soul in light snow, also it survived; you'll have the desired effect. Besides, the Kia includes a decidedly un-car-like 6.7 inches of ground clearance, up from 5.9 inches this past year. Kia's only other concession that this Soul perhaps isn't SUV-ish enough for a few is really a new X-Line trim. Functionally no not the same as the bottom LX, S, or EX trims (in order to consider its test numbers, included below, as applicable to basically the entire lineup), the X-Line gets tougher-looking bumpers and plastic fender flares. We've also driven the brand new GT-Line trim that sits opposite the X-Line and essentially replaces last year's Turbo model, wearing a far more street-friendly look having a center-exit exhaust, monochromatic bodywork, along with a sportier suspension tune.

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Michael SimariCar and Driver

Every Soul, even the GT-Line, comes standard having an Atkinson-cycle 2.0-liter inline-four, which replaces both last year's weak entry-level 1.6-liter and mid-level 2.0-liter engines. Its 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque land just about between your outputs of these two previous engines, while its smoothness and refinement are much better than both. Generally in most Souls, the two 2.0-liter pairs with a fresh continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), which supplants last year's six-speed automatic in every however the base model, which runs on the six-speed manual and may be optioned using the CVT. This, surprisingly, is really a excellent development.

Like many new-age CVTs, Kia's has a direct feel and can fake fixed-gear ratios to avoid the engine from revving too much from sync using the car's acceleration, as less adroit CVTs do. Use not even half throttle and you will barely see it working, the transmission smoothly changing ratios because the car builds speed-perfect because of this type of car as well as the buyers who'll gravitate into it. The brand new transmission also helps the two 2.0-liter engine motivate the Soul to 60 mph 0.1 second quicker (in 8.0 seconds flat) compared to the previous-generation Soul built with the better, 164-hp version of exactly the same engine along with a six-speed automatic. The freshened powertrain is 1 decibel quieter using the gas pedal pressed to the ground.

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Michael SimariCar and Driver

Fuel-economy ratings for the brand new Soul with the two 2.0-liter-and-CVT combo are up by way of a few mpg over the board. However, on our highway-fuel-economy test run at 75 mph, the brand new car achieved 30 mpg, that is 3 mpg worse than its EPA highway figure no better than what we should got from the previous Soul Turbo.

That 201-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission go on being an option within the GT-Line cars. The setup suffers exactly the same oddly timed gearchanges, abrupt low-speed response, and surging power delivery since it did within the previous-generation Soul Turbo. You can find steering wheel-mounted shift paddles for manual gear selection, however the additional control doesn't do much to assist the transmission's refinement. Though entertainingly quicker compared to the base engine-zero to 60 mph is really a 6.4-second affair-the GT-Line Turbo is not any fleeter than its predecessor, the Soul Turbo. While one 2017 Soul Turbo we tested was (barely) slower to 60 mph, our long-term 2017 Soul Turbo test car posted a hotter 6.3-second run when new and shaved 0.1 second from that performance when its odometer rolled past 40,000 miles. A manual transmission could add spice to the GT-Line's turbo engine, but Kia doesn't offer one. Too bad.

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Brad FickCar and Driver

Solidly Capable
Straight-line speed aside, there's little difference in athleticism on the list of new Soul's trim levels. The GT-Line rides slightly firmer, yet every Soul we drove exhibited good body control, improved ride quality, and better isolation from wind and road noise. So composed and planted may be the Soul, actually, that this X-Line clung to your skidpad towards the tune of 0.91 g-on all-season tires believe it or not (Hankook Ventus S1 Noble2, sized 235/45R-18). That lateral grip figure places the humble Soul around the grippier side from the Honda Civic Si (on its standard all-season tires) and the final Volkswagen GTI we tested. Weirdly, the X-Line was stickier around our skidpad compared to the GT-Line Turbo, which posted a good but lesser 0.85-g grip figure. We suspect the Turbo's humdrum Goodyear Eagle Touring tires, that have been exactly the same size because the X-Line's Hankooks, are at fault. Less grip may possibly also explain the GT-Line's 11-foot-longer stopping distance from 70 mph (172 feet).

The X-Line's impressive road adhesion aside, every 2020 Soul is most beneficial referred to as a point-and-shoot sort of car, one that's competent, or even exactly fun to operate a vehicle. The numb and strongly boosted steering is disappointing, particularly within the range-topping turbocharged GT-Line model, which, at $28,485 to start out ($28,710 as tested), is priced awfully near to the VW GTI despite being not nearly as cohesively sporty or upscale in feel. The lower-priced versions certainly are a better value, and you also will not be disappointed by way of a jerky transmission as well as the unfulfilled promise of performance. As stylish as ever, Kia's latest box is of interest and practical and really should please, whether you will need affordable wheels, an off-road-wannabe hatchback just like the X-Line, or become chauffeured in the trunk seat following a particular date partying as an anthropomorphic hamster.

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Brad FickCar and Driver

Specifications
Specifications

2020 Kia Soul X-Line

VEHICLE TYPE
front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback

PRICE AS TESTED
$22,615 (base price: $22,485)

ENGINE TYPE
DOHC 16-valve Atkinson-cycle inline-4, aluminum block and head, port fuel injection

Displacement
122 cu in, 1999 cc
Power
147 hp @ 6200 rpm
Torque
132 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm

TRANSMISSION
continuously variable automatic with manual shifting mode

CHASSIS
Suspension (F/R): struts/torsion beam
Brakes (F/R): 11.0-in vented disc/10.3-in disc
Tires: Hankook Ventus S1 Noble2, 235/45R-18 94V M+S

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase: 102.4 in
Length: 165.2 in
Width: 70.9 in
Height: 63.0 in
Passenger volume: 101 cu ft
Cargo volume: 24 cu ft
Curb weight: 2965 lb

C/D
TEST RESULTS
Zero to 60 mph: 8.0 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 24.7 sec
Rolling start, 5-60 mph: 8.2 sec
Top gear, 30-50 mph: 4.2 sec
Top gear, 50-70 mph: 5.4 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 16.4 sec @ 86 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 120 mph
Braking, 70-0 mph: 161 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.91 g

C/D
FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 24 mpg
75-mph highway driving: 30 mpg
Highway range: 420 miles

EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 30/27/33 mpg

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