The Kia Soul has been completely re-done for 2020 with a new Third Generation model that keeps the Soul’s quirky spirit and boxy shape. The Soul is the kind of car that kids from 18 to 80 can go for; all you need is “a little bit of rhythm and a lotta Soul.”
“Loco-motion” performed by Grand Funk, AKA Grand Funk Railroad, has been stuck inside my head since the shiny new Kia Soul showed up in my driveway for the test week. If it’s stuck in your head now, I’m sorry. It’s a great song, and the 2020 Soul is a great car.
Starting at $17,490, the Soul is an urban runabout with a cool factor that young drivers will love. But the new Soul will appeal to the older, more practical set as well. It has an affordable base price and gets up to 35 miles per gallon in highway driving, which is something any generation has to like.
For those who have no idea who Grand Funk is and never heard “Loco-motion,” you should check it out on YouTube. As for the Soul, you’ll like its interesting design, available wireless charging, speakers that light up, and all the unusual 3D patterns and interior features. There’s an interior mood lighting system with selectable features like Hey! Yo! Party Time, Traveling, Romance, Midnight City and Café. And the available 640-watt harman/kardon sound system with 10 speakers is terrific.
If you’re in the crowd that is still humming “C’mon baby, do the Loco-motion,” you’ll like that there’s plenty of functionality to go along with the Soul’s fuel economy. It has a half-inch shy of 40 inches of headroom in both the front and rear seats, and it has about 24 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row. Fold down Row 2 and the Soul opens to more than 62 cubic feet of cargo room. The front seats are comfortable, and so are the ones in back. The rear liftgate is wider and lower to make loading and unloading easier, and the front door openings are larger to make getting in and out lighter on sore knees.
The 2020 Kia Soul has two engine choices, depending on the trim you choose. Six trims are available: LX, S, X-Line, GT-Line, EX and EX Designer Collection. There’s also an electric version of the Soul.
Most Souls will have a 2.0-liter Inline 4-cylinder engine that develops 147 horsepower and 132 lb.-ft. of torque connected to an Intelligent Variable Transmission or a 6-speed manual. In the GT-Line, you can get a 1.6-liter twin turbocharged engine that kicks out 201 Horses and 195 lb.-ft. of torque. The transmission for the turbo is a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. My test car was an “Inferno Red” GT-Line Soul with the turbo-4 under the hood. It was a hot car that scooted from red lights like a champ and more than held its own out on the interstates.
Inside the cabin, a 10.25-inch touchscreen for infotainment is at the top of center stack with crystal clear graphics for navigation and other vehicle functions. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are supported, and two Bluetooth devices can be connected at the same time. An available 8-inch heads-up display system projects onto a plastic screen that rises from the dash in front of the driver.
For connectivity and smart phone charging, the Soul has two USB ports and a 12v outlet at the bottom of the center stack near a wireless charging pad. Rear seat passengers are shown some love with another USB port in Row 2.
When it comes to safety, the new Soul has advanced airbags with side curtains, anti-lock brakes, forward collision avoidance, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert and smart cruise control. Visibility is good around the relatively slim A pillars.
The federal government hasn’t yet smashed the 2020 Kia Soul into steel barriers, but the insurance industry has tested the new Soul and likes it a lot. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety names the Soul a “Top Safety Pick Plus,” awarding its top score of “good” in every crash test. The only IIHS ding against the Soul is for headlights in some trims.
So, if you’re a younger driver – or a younger driver’s parent who still listens to Grand Funk – there’s an awful lot to like about the new Kia Soul. It’s cool, it’s affordable, it’s roomy and it’s safe. And if you’re in the market for a new hatchback, my advice would be to put the 2020 Kia Soul on your test drive list.
2020 Kia Soul GT-Line 1.6 Turbo
1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
7-speed dual clutch automatic
$27,490 plus freight
EPA Mileage Estimates:
27 mpg city/32 mpg highway/29 mpg combined
Estimated Highway Range: