The Kia soul is all-new for 2020 -- well, as new as a car that looks like a toaster can get. This wagon's styling is as recognizable as ever, but with sharper details that all at once make it look more expensive and modern.
The Soul is the last of a curious breed of cute boxes that started with the Honda Element and Scion xB in the early 2000s. Kia rolled out the original Soul in 2010, around the same time Nissan introduced the short-lived Cube. Now Kia's all alone in a curious class of one.
Behind its squinty new face, the Soul has a 2.0L engine that makes 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque, which comes mated exclusively with an also-new continuously variable transmission.
As we write this, last year's 1.6L turbo engine isn't on the menu, but we suspect it will return later in the 2020 model year, matched with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. We expect it to make the same 201 hp and 195 lb-ft as the 2019 version.
The battery-powered Soul EV is back for 2020, too, and is covered in a separate buyer's guide entry.
Even with just one engine, there's no shortage of choice here. There are seven trims to choose from, including LX, EX, EX+, EX Premium, GT-Line Premium, EX Limited and GT-Line Limited. The new Soul's look is loaded with attitude, and the car itself is loaded with some features that stand out in the compact class.
Not in the entry LX trim, though. This model is pretty ordinary, with 16-inch steel wheels with covers, automatic headlights, heated side mirrors, cloth upholstery, heated front seats, air conditioning, 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, six-speaker stereo, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, keyless entry, a 3.5-inch gauge cluster display, power windows and tire pressure monitoring.
Things start to get interesting in the EX package, which brings 16-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, LED daytime running lights, heated steering wheel, leather-trimmed wheel and shifter, wireless phone charging, cruise control, blind spot detection, lane keep assist, forward collision avoidance, rear cross-traffic assist, heated windshield and heated washer nozzles.
EX+ gets 17-inch wheels, LED fog lights and taillights, cloth/leather seating and LED interior lighting.
EX Premium comes with 18-inch wheels, gloss black and leather interior trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 10.25-inch infotainment screen with navigation, sound-reactive speaker lights, satellite radio, passive keyless entry, UVO connected car services and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
GT Line Premium trim brings sport bumpers, roof rails and a sport steering wheel.
EX Limited adds rain-sensing wipers, leather seats, heated rear seats, ventilated front seats, premium stereo, adaptive cruise control and a head-up display.
GT Line Limited gets the GT Line Premium's cosmetic items with the list of features from the EX Limited.
Kia's fuel consumption estimates are 8.6/7.1 L/100 km (city/highway).