Sunday, August 11, 2019

2020 Kia Soul GT: The Brand’s Second Generation Boxy Crossover

Highlight: The Soul is available in an all-electric configuration.

Test Vehicle’s MSRP: $28,710 (Base Model: $18,485)

Seating Capacity: 4

Standard Safety Features: air bags; ABS; a temporary spare tire; hillstart assist control system; vehicle stability control system; a tire pressure monitoring system; a forward collision avoidance system; and a lane keep assist system

Standard Equipment Base LX Model: 6-inch wheels; 2.0-liter engine; a 6-speed manual transmission; privacy rear glass; power adjustable exterior mirrors; black front grille; body color accents; a manual operated tilt/telescopic steering; no center console armrest and storage; an illuminated glove box; cargo net hooks; cloth seats; manual adjustable front seats; 60/40 split folding rear seat; polyurethane gearshift knob; and a 7-inch infotainment screen

Standard Equipment GT Model: 18-inch wheels; 2.0-liter engine; variable automatic transmission; a start and stop gas feature; sporty front and rear fascia; integrated fog lights on front grille; gloss black side mirrors; a racing-like leather steering wheel and gearshift knob; premium cloth seats; remote keyless entry system; panic alarm key with trunk opener; front center console and armrest; and cruise control

(Test Vehicle) Standard Equipment GT Model with 1.6-liter Turbo Engine: 1.6-liter turbo engine/201-horsepower; a 7-speed dual clutch transmission; heated exterior mirrors; LED headlights lights; power sunroof with sunshade; rear center armrest with cupholders; Sofino and cloth trim; power driver’s seat with lumbar support; heated front seats; front passenger seat back pocket; a heated steering wheel; outside mirrors with one-touch triple indicator; a dual automatic temperature control; a 10-inch infotainment screen; a navigation system; a Harman Kardon premium audio system with speakers and a subwoofer; audio speaker lights; a wireless charging system; Bluetooth with voice recognition; 12-volt power outlet in the cargo area; a push button ignition starter system; keyless entry (doors and trunk); a forward collision avoidance system with pedestrian detection; a lane change assist system; a blind spot collision warning system; a rear traffic collision avoidance assist system; a radar-activated cruise control system; and a heads up display system

Other Trims:


Optional Features On Test Vehicle: one cargo floor mats and cargo tray

Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: a 6-speaker AM/FM

Android Auto/Apple CarPlay: Yes

Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes

USB Connectivity: Yes
Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 10 years or 100,000 miles

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder/147-hp

Recommended Fuel: Unleaded

Standard Fuel Mileage:

What’s New: The brand’s second-generation cube-like crossover has been reworked inside and out.  An all-new 2.0-liter engine joins Kia’s powertrains.

Why: The second-generation Soul has evolved with a fresh and more modern look as it continues to adorn its box like styling. The sleek headlights, with is LED linear lighting that stretches the length of the massive grille looks very futuristic, while the rear window borrows elements from Chrysler's Pacifica.

The Soul is available in six trims, ranging from the base S model to the higher end EX Designer Collection.  

Beyond the reinterpreted styling, which still looks like the model it replaces, the new Soul adds a number of new features which enhances the overall experience.

Due to the new styling, the front door openings are larger, the front fenders are beefier and the roof rack now has mounting points. The design team also improved the opening of the rear liftgate, making it wider and lower. They also added a dual level cargo board too, making it easier to accommodate larger items too.  

Inside the vehicle, this year’s infotainment screen expands to 10.25-inches, making it easier to use and read, while searching for directions, a satellite channel or using the back-up camera. An optional HUD (heads up display) is available, a wireless charging pad, a rocking 640-watt Harman Kardon audio system, too.

Under the hood, the Soul is powered by two powertrains, a 2.0-liter and an all-new 1.6-liter turbo charge engine, which produces 147 and 201-horspower, respectively. The 2.0-liter engine is offered in a manual, while the peppier engine is only available in an automatic transmission.

The Soul, with is upright seating and car-like ride, is available in a new sportier-looking GT trim. The vehicle we reviewed was outfitted with this package. This trim distinguished itself from the Soul’s line up with its 18-inch wheels, gloss black side mirrors, exterior badging, distinguishable fascia and leather wrapped sports steering wheel. A chrome tip exhaust, larger disc brakes and a sport-tuned suspension can be added to the iconic vehicle.

Lastly, the Soul is available with the latest safety driving aids, depending upon the trim. They can range from a forward collision assist system to automatic high beam headlights to a radar activated cruise control system. 

But: While the Soul GT, with the optional 201-horsepower engine, has the look of being a road runner, it’s not. With the sports mode, we’re were expecting a more engaging driving experience in terms of both the suspension system and steering capabilities. The car is more about show than performance, although we appreciated the additional horsepower, when compared to the base engine.

Also, we wish the interior designers would consider adding a sliding front center armrest to the vehicle. This would be great for height-challenged occupants.

Lastly, Kia has been known for adding ventilated fronts seats in their vehicles. Why is it that this Kia doesn’t offer the feature?

Verdict: The lone ranger, Kia’s Soul, was once in good company with other quirky models like Scion’s Xb and Nissan’s Cube. However, while the others have faded away, the Soul has outlasted both micro cars due its fresh design and broader appeal. Kia’s design team did an excellent job of reinterpreting a vehicle that was once associated with mice in its popular playful ads.

The Soul, which is outselling last year’s model, based upon CYTD sales continues to be a hit for the brand, appealing to all age demographics. The vehicle continues to be affordable, expressive and seemingly well built. In an industry with a lot of ‘me-too' designs in the compact crossover segment, Kia has produced another winner in a segment that really doesn’t have any competitors that looks quite like it.

Nearest Competition: Buick Encore, Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade, Nissan Kicks, Fiat 500L, Kia Niro, Toyota CH-R, Mazda CX-3

Premium Competitors: MINI

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