Crossover & Midsize

The 2020 Kia Soul is Punching Above Its Weight Class

Kia’s not the most popular automaker in the U.S., so its vehicles are often tragically overlooked. It’s a shame considering that Kia makes some of the best SUVs around, like the Sportage and Sorento. Kia’s newest SUV, the Telluride, is also getting impressive reviews. Another great SUV is the Kia Soul.

It’s on the smaller side, so it may not be the most suitable car for larger families. Still, it’s an excellent vehicle overall and recently won an impressive award. According to J.D. Power, consumers named it the highest-quality small SUV, and we can definitely see why.

Great powertrain options

The base Kia Soul comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine under its hood, capable of 147 hp. It’s paired with a six-speed manual transmission, though drivers can pay a little extra for a CVT. The other motor on tap is a turbo 201-hp four-cylinder engine, paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Both engines are nearly equal in terms of efficiency, averaging up to 30 mpg combined city/highway. If you’re looking for an electric vehicle, the Kia Soul EV is an excellent option. Its electric motor has a 243-mile range and makes up to 127 mpg in the city and 101 mpg on highway roads.

The Kia Soul’s roomy interior

The boxy Kia Soul houses a nice interior with plenty of unique stitching and other creative styling choices. Cloth, synthetic leather, or genuine leather seats are available, all of which are very comfortable. There’s also plenty of head and legroom in both rows of the Kia Soul.

One of the big reasons consumers love the Kia Soul is its expansive cargo area. The hatch has a wide opening and it’s fairly close to the ground, making it easier to load heavy items. Drivers get 24 cubic feet of space with the rear seats up and 62 cubic feet once the seats are folded flat.

Excellent value for the price

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The Kia Soul comes standard with Bluetooth and smartphone integration, controlled via the UVO infotainment system. If you want any advanced safety features, expect to pay at least $20,000 for the Kia Soul S. This nets you several driver-assist aids like blind-spot monitors, drowsiness warning, lane-keeping assist, and pedestrian detection.

The Kia Soul EX gives drivers the best value. In addition to having the more powerful engine and the CVT, it has an upgraded infotainment system complete with a larger touchscreen. It also comes with a few desirable creature comforts like heating for the driver’s seat and steering wheel.

Fun to drive

Car and Driver testers were big fans of the Kia Soul’s base engine equipped with the CVT. They also test drove the GT-Line trim, which comes with a sport-tuned suspension and other athletic styling touches. They noted that the GT-Line Soul doesn’t have as much cabin noise as the other models.

The turbo engine is also predictably faster than the base offering by 1.6 seconds. However, Edmunds said that the transmission and brakes can be a little touchy at times. Still, reviewers found the Soul’s handling to be engaging overall, noting that it rounds corners exceptionally well.

The Kia Soul is built to last

In past years, the Kia Soul has only had average reliability ratings. However, this year’s Kia Soul got a perfect reliability rating from Consumer Reports. The Soul also comes with one of the best extended warranties, covering problems through 10 years or 100,000 miles.

While the Kia Soul was still a good car before, the redesign made a big difference in terms of overall quality. It may not be as lithe as some of its rivals, but many owners love it anyway.