By Steve & Tamami Laser
For more than a decade, Kia has been offering the boxy Soul as a funky, groovy alternative to a subcompact sedan or hatchback. So what does it do for an encore? For the 2020 model year, Kia has introduced a new third-generation Soul, loaded with even more character and high-tech goodies.
While the Soul rides on a new platform and features all-new styling, it remains instantly recognizable in traffic and crowded parking lots. We spent a week driving the top Soul GT-Line Turbo. The Soul is still boxy, yet it looks more streamlined and futuristic than before. Up front, our tester is fitted with the GT-Line sport front bumper and a real cool-looking grille.
We highlight a week behind the wheel of the Kia Soul in our test-drive video from our CarNichiWa.com YouTube channel (above). We liked the performance from the turbocharged engine that makes the Soul fun to drive.
Kia offers six different trim levels for 2020. We selected the top GT-Line Turbo because it’s the only model available with the turbocharged engine. Other trims (LX, S, X-Line, the base GT-Line, and EX) feature a new naturally aspirated (non-turbo) 2.0-liter engine.
The GT-Line Turbo has these good-looking 18-inch alloy wheels. The redesigned Soul rides on a slightly longer wheelbase, overall length is increased by more than two inches, while overall height and width are unchanged.
At the rear are chrome-tipped, center-mounted exhaust and signature boomerang-style taillights that look neat when they light up at night. Kia says the liftgate opening is wider and lower to help improve cargo loading and unloading.
Under the hood of our GT-Line is a 1.6-liter DOHC turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with direct injection. It produces a satisfying 201 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 195 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,500 to 4,500 rpm (the base 2.0L has 147 hp and 132 lb.-ft.). Our GT-Line tester was fun to drive around town, on highways, and up and down steep hills.
The turbo powerplant is teamed with a 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) featuring manual shift mode and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters that increase the fun-to-drive factor. Also included is a Drive Mode button that makes it easy to activate Sport Mode for enhanced throttle and shift response whenever the urge strikes.
We take a closer look at some of the GT-Line Turbo features in our Walkaround video (above) highlighting the exterior, engine and cargo compartments, and interior.
All models employ a MacPherson strut front suspension and a Coupled Torsion Beam rear axle. Our GT-Line Turbo was fitted with sport-tuned suspension, featuring RS Type gas shocks, that delivered a smooth and well-controlled ride.
The Soul’s cool, funky design carries over into the cabin where the GT-Line Turbo gains a red interior package that adds textured red accents to the door panel trim, plus red stitching on the seats. The instrument panel is nicely designed, with controls that are well placed and easy to use.
The GT-Line has comfortable seats with sporty Sofino leatherette upholstery. The driver’s seat has 10-way power adjustments, the front seats are heated, and so is the steering wheel. The driver and passengers sit higher up in the Soul than in a typical passenger car, for a better view of the road.
Another benefit of the boxy design is a spacious rear seat. The 60/40-split style provides added flexibility and convenience in transporting combinations of cargo and passengers.
With the rear seats folded down, there’s 62.1 cubic feet of cargo space, offering plenty of room to transport gear. As we demonstrate in our walkaround video, a surfboard fit inside our test car, and so do 10 large plastic storage boxes.
A Supervision meter cluster with LCD color display is standard on the GT-Line Turbo. By pressing a button on the steering wheel, we could toggle through and adjust various features including Driver Attention Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, a compass, trip computer, and the separate Head-Up Display.
The lengthy list of safety features on our tester included Forward Collision Warning with Pedestrian Detection, Blind-Spot Collision Warning, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist, and Smart Cruise Control.
The big 10.25-inch center screen with UVO Link, navigation, and split-screen view was a joy to use. We listened to our favorite tunes on SiriusXM® satellite radio, checked out the weather, including a five-day forecast, and used the voice command button on the steering wheel to “find restaurant.”
We also enjoyed the sound quality from our tester’s Harman Kardon® audio system, charged our iPhone using the onboard wireless charger, and plugged in our phone to use the features of Apple CarPlay® (also included is Android Auto™).
Then there’s “sound mood lighting” with customizable colors that can synch to the beat of music from the audio system. Sound mood includes soft lights on the upper and lower door panels with multiple ambience themes (see our walkaround video for a demo).
Our GT-Line Turbo started out with a base MSRP of $27,490, adding floor mats, a cargo tray, and destination for a bottom line of $28,710. Soul prices start at $17,490 for the base LX trim equipped with the 2.0L engine and a 6-speed manual gearbox.
With its youthful attitude, cool styling, zippy powerplant, versatile cabin, high-tech features and affordable pricing, Kia has made the Soul even better for the 2020 model year. We think the new GT-Line Turbo is the best Soul ever. And if we were in the market for a hatchback with a unique vibe in this price range, we would put the Soul at the top of our shopping list.
Soul press fleet vehicle provided by Kia Motors America, Inc. Prices and vehicle information applies to U.S. market models at the time of publication. All product information, including prices, features and specifications, is subject to change without notice.
Story, photos and videos © 2020 CarNichiWa.com