What’s the difference: 2020 Kia Soul vs 2019 Kia Soul?
The new Kia Soul has been completely redesigned for 2019, and now represents the third generation of the brand’s iconic boxy hatchback which has been on sale in the US for over a decade. It shares its platform with its Korean sibling, the Hyundai Kona. For 2020, the base model engine is more efficient, delivering slightly higher horsepower figures and improved gas mileage, and there’s a new variable-ratio auto transmission on offer as well. Inside, there’s a larger infotainment display screen and a host of improved tech features such as wireless phone charging, a heads up display and more. The third-generation Kia Soul has taken a great leap forward.
Pros and Cons
- More entertaining to drive
- The famous boxy design looks better than ever
- It’s still practical
- Interior space
- Stellar technology (even compared to luxury cars)
- Interior quality isn’t class-leading
- Transmission tuning lacks aggression
- Brakes don’t match the rest of the performance
- GT-Line models are priced close to VW GTI territory
Kia has, unsurprisingly, kept things slightly boxy, which is one of the primary reasons why the previous generations were so well-loved by young and old alike. Not only does it look quirky, fun, and slightly futuristic, but it gives the Soul a massive amount of usable interior space, unrivaled in its class. The face of the new Soul is decidedly more grown-up and mature, but Kia has remained true to the overall design, and its lineage is still as clear as day. Standard exterior features now include 16-inch wheels on the base model, growing to 18-inches on the GT-Line, LED headlights, fog lights and positioning lights on top of the range models as well as privacy glass and a sleek all-black front grille. The lower front intake is more significant than ever and hints to the Soul’s sporty aspirations. The rear of the car is dominated by the wrap-around tail light cluster that will make the Soul instantly recognizable on the road.
The Kia Soul is a small car and can be compared to Volkswagen’s venerable Golf in terms of length, width, and wheelbase. When compared to the outgoing model, the Soul has remained more or less the same size but is longer at 165.2 inches instead of 163. The 2020 Soul is 63 inches tall, slightly shorter than the outgoing model, but shares the same front and rear width, and rides on a 102.4-inch wheelbase. Ground clearance is a respectable 6.7 inches, which gives it the ability to do more adventurous driving than most so-called subcompact SUVs. The new Soul has managed to shed some weight during the re-design; the second generation Soul was already a featherweight, only weighing in at 2,884 pounds, but the new Soul manages to shed 82 pounds for a total curb weight of 2,802 lbs in its lightest incarnation, while heavier trims like the GT-Line Turbo we drove tip the scales at 3,036 lbs.
The 2020 Kia Soul has many color option, depending on your fantasy. The color options for the 2020 Kia Soul include Platinum Gold, Mars Orange, Undercover Green, Cherry Black, Neptune Blue, Inferno Red, and last but not least, Solar Yellow, and they can be optioned as combinations including Cherry Black/Inferno Red, Mars Orange/Cherry Black, Platinum Gold/Clear White, and Neptune Blue/Cherry Black. Combining colors means that the roof, top wing mirror moldings, and sill accents will change to the secondary colors of your choice.
The GT-Line Turbo is available in five colors including Inferno Red, Neptune Blue, Gravity Gray, Snow White Pearl, and Cherry Black. Our tester came with Snow White Pearl Paint, which is not our favorite color but does give off a cool “Storm Trooper” vibe. Both the black and white colors add $395 to the Soul’s price, which is why we’d happily recommend one of the two exciting red or blue colors.
Kia Soul Engine And Performance
The 2020 Kia Soul has improved upon the previous generation in terms of outright performance. The base model’s 2.0-liter engine is stronger and more fuel-efficient, while the turbocharged engine gives the Soul some credible sporting credentials, although it should be noted that the Soul is far from being an outright sports car. The engine and gearbox combinations work well together and strike a good balance between performance and comfort.
All 2020 Soul Models, aside from the GT-Line Turbo, are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder producing 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque going out through either a six-speed manual (only on the base model) or a CVT. Our tester featured the 1.6-liter turbocharged four-pot going out exclusively to a seven-speed dual-clutch, which bumps the power up to 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque while dropping the 0-60 mph down from eight seconds to around six and a half seconds. Fuel economy does take a minor hit from up to 29/35/31 mpg city/highway/combined with the base engine to 27/32/29 with the turbo.
In our opinion, the turbo engine is easily worth the minor trade-off in fuel economy because it easily places the Soul as the quickest vehicle in its segment. Most other vehicles in this class feel sluggish and the Soul feels like a rocket ship by comparison. Kia’s DCT may lack the overall refinement of Volkswagen’s DSG transmission, but it shifts quickly when you want and fades into the background in boring traffic situations. The Soul now has paddle shifters on the wheel to access the turbo’s grunt more readily, which is welcomed addition for the third generation.
The steering feel is light but gives enough feedback to entertain the driver and the weight can be increased when the car is placed in Sport Mode. Kia added paddle shifters to the wheel so you can now have greater control over the seven-speed DCT, which shifts quicker than you’d expect in a vehicle like this. We’ve felt faster shifts from this transmission in related cars like the Hyundai Veloster Turbo, though this was probably done on purpose to keep the Soul grounded as a daily driver.
The well-loved boxy design of the Kia Soul houses a wonderfully funky interior. Kia makes use of an assortment of hard and soft plastics, cloth and leather. Visibility is excellent thanks again to the square design of the car. The general design of the interior, unlike the exterior, is rather curvaceous and flows around a shapely central console that houses the infotainment display screen and hazard indicator.
Due to its boxy shape, the Kia Soul is among the most spacious vehicles in its class. Headroom is over 39 inches in both the front and rear and legroom is rated at 41.1 inches (front) and 38.8 inches (rear). Kia has included more bolstered seats for the GT-Line, which feel more aggressive without being uncomfortable on long journeys. The rear seats feel equally comfortable and a nearly flat floor gives middle-seat passengers more foot space, though we wish the rear seatbacks could be reclined.
Trunk and Cargo Space
The boxy design and hatchback liftgate featured on the Soul give it class-leading trunk space, especially in terms of packing taller objects. With the rear seats folded up, you get an impressive 24.23 cubic feet of space, easily eclipsing the Honda Fit’s 16.6 cubic feet. The Hyundai Kona, which makes use of the same platform, only manages to squeeze out 19.2 cubic feet. With the 60/40 split-folding seats folded down, you get a handy 62 cubic feet of cargo space, a class-leading number, made even better by the fact that the Soul’s roofline remains flat all the way to the back, which means taller objects fit easily.
Personal storage space is good and reaffirms the Soul’s image as a practical family car. There are dual cup holders for front-seat passengers, front and rear bottle holders, an illuminated glovebox and an optional double-level carbo board for the trunk.