Fun to drive. Easy to maneuver. Practical but still sporty.
Roomy & Spacious
Tech & Safety Features
No AWD Option
Some Turbo Lag
The Kia Soul has been fully redesigned for the 2020 model year. While the Soul gets more personality with its new exterior styling, it will be even more fun if you opt for the 1.6-liter turbo. It’s super nimble, has a responsive engine, and will get you in and out of tight parking spots. On the open road, the 2020 Kia Soul delivers equally crisp handling and responsive steering.
You can up the Soul’s fun factor by getting the GT-Line with its punchy, turbo engine and a sport-tuned suspension. And that’s what we have been driving this week: the 2020 Kia Soul GT-Line.
Kia Soul: What’s New For 2020?
The Kia Soul is totally redesigned for the 2020 model year. New exterior styling features include boomerang-shaped taillights and C-pillars designed to resemble airplane wings. The 2020 Soul receives newly-available safety features along with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. A 2.0-liter four-cylinder with a six-speed manual or Intelligent Variable Transmission serves as the new base powertrain.
The 2020 Kia Soul comes in six trim levels: LX, S, X-Line, GT-Line, EX, and EX Designer Collection. An EV version is also available.
Features & Options: Plenty For The Drive
The 2020 Kia Soul GT-Line ($27,490) is the sport trim you will want for a bit more fun. It comes standard with automatic headlights, rear privacy glass, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, and a 60/40-split folding rear seat. Tech features include Bluetooth, a seven-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, and a six-speaker audio system. Standard safety features include a rearview camera, blind-spot monitor, and hill-start assist. Forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and a drowsy driver warning system are standard as well. Drivers who like having a lot of on-board safety features will want to opt for the Kia Drive Wise package.
The GT-Line adds sporty exterior accents, different 18-inch wheels, foglights, gloss-black mirrors, a triangle-pattern grille, and a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel. Other goodies include navigation, power driver’s seat, heated front seats, heads-up display, and a Harman-Kardon premium sound system.
A sunroof, wireless charging pad, and keyless entry and ignition also come with the GT-Line. Total MSRP including destination: $28,710. By comparison, the 2020 Kia Soul starts at $17,490.
Interior Highlights: Feels Bigger Than It Looks
The Kia Soul is roomier than most compact cars because of its boxy shape, and that doesn’t change for 2020 as the cabin feels spacious and open. The power-adjustable driver’s seat and the generous range of steering wheel adjustments help accommodate drivers of all sizes. The extra tall roofline and wide door openings make it easy to access the front and rear of the small compact. You will find plenty of headroom and legroom in front, and in the back two adults will have no problem taking road trips. If you are traveling a lot, we recommend the available wireless charging option.
With good visibility from all seating positions, you might feel like you are in a much bigger vehicle. If you need to carry cargo, the Soul offers up more cargo room (24.2 cubic feet; rear seats up) than other small SUVs; even though there’s a hump at the base of the rear seats when you fold them down, which limits utility. Overall, however, the 2020 Kia Soul is a comfortable place to spend time commuting and traveling. The ambient and mood lights also make it fun to drive.
2020 Kia Soul: Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
What makes the 2020 Kia Soul high on the fun-to-drive meter is opting for the GT-Line trim. The powertrain is unique to this model: a twin-scroll turbo I-4 GDI engine (1.6-liter) producing 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft. of torque. It comes paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic with a stop-start feature and selectable driving modes. All Souls are front-wheel-drive; all-wheel drive is not available.
Driving enthusiasts will definitely want the GT-Line trim with the peppy 1.6-liter turbo engine. We took it out this week and pushed it hard in the mountains west of Denver to see how it would respond. It delivers plenty of power when needed for passing, even going uphill at altitude. If you drive at sea level, you will have even more power at your disposal. As an everyday driver, the 2020 Kia Soul GT-Line will provide more than enough power.
Driving Dynamics: A Pleasant Surprise
The cornering abilities are better than expected as we chucked the 2020 Kia Soul around tight mountain curves. We were surprised to see it has cornering abilities similar to sportier rivals like the Mazda CX-3 and Mini Countryman. On the road, the suspension is firm and controlled but never harsh. Unlike some rivals, the Soul feels stable at high speeds and doesn’t shudder when you hit a patch of rough pavement. In most cases, the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic was smooth and seamless for us.
There are only two downsides: the occasional turbo lag which takes some getting used to; and unlike some other subcompacts, the Soul doesn’t offer all-wheel drive. It’s not exactly a deal-beaker but something to consider if you live in colder climates.
Conclusion: Pegs High On The Fun-To-Drive Meter
The 2020 Kia Soul GT-Line is the sporty trim you want if you like to drive, or just want a little extra power. It offers a roomy cabin and useful cargo space, both of which make it a perfect everyday commuter. It’s also competitively-priced, but still manages to bump up the fun-to-drive meter more than most vehicles.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his firsthand reviews are archived on our test drives page. Follow Denis on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy