Can a Cutie Pie Car Grow Up (a Bit) and Still Be a Distinct Style Choice? The 2020 Kia Soul Says Yes

2020 Kia Soul

Who wants a “who wore it better” moment on the road?

Some times in life it’s hard to express yourself. We don’t make jokes in the airport security line, we keep the facades of our homes demure to preserve property values and when it comes to a car, most buyers are reluctant to go beyond basic colors and creature comforts. A bold expression of individuality can be hard to re-market when it’s time to trade in your car.

Except in the case of the Kia Soul. This boxy little quasi-crossover has proven to be not just a fun ride for the expression-inclined, but a winner in the marketplace, too.

Further reading: Learn to say “For-Tay:” The Kia Forte wows with fun and affordable 

Kia Soul

The view from the drivers seat in the Kia Soul. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Who This Car is For

  • Buyers who want a car that doesn’t look like every other car on the road
  • First-time car buyers on a budget
  • Buyers who are young, or young at heart
  • Drivers downsizing from a larger SUV or crossover
  • Small business owners who can take advantage of the Soul’s ample interior space and highly visible shape

Further reading: Plug and play in the Kia Niro EV, and drive almost 600 miles before charging or filling up! 

Kia Soul

The logo on the 2020 Kia Soul is subtly imprinted on the rear panel. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What This Car Costs

When the Soul arrives in dealerships this spring, prices on the 2020 Soul will bump up a bit from the 2019 model; the base model starts at $17,490; the mid-level X-line starts at $22,845, about $2,000 over the 2019 mid-line model, and the GT starts at $28,485. The 2019 top line Soul Exclamation with all the options is priced at just under $28,000.

A Fleet Of Souls 2020 Kia Soul

A fleet of Souls lined up and ready for a day of driving. Photo: Scotty Reiss

An Old(er) Soul With a Young Heart and Playful Personality

The 2020 model is the third generation of this car, first introduced in 2009. At the time there were several other boxy cars on the market. Kia designer Mike Torpey loved the idea of bringing a boxy, contrarian car to the market for young hipsters. Kia, as somewhat of an upstart car company, loved the idea. To be authentically fresh and fun, the Kia Soul did what Kia does best: Give buyers a lot more for the money. More features like premium sound, ambient lighting, an imaginative and unique look to the interior.

We took a good look at the new Kia Soul in a Facebook Live, which you can see here:

But what buyers loved was the DNA of the Soul, which is all of this: a fun and unique car that is still all we need in something so grown up as a car. That love translated to marketplace victory. The Soul is the only remaining boxy car on the market.

Further reading: Looking for a bigger thrill? The Kia Stinger is all that and more

Kia Soul

The character and spirit of the Kia Soul continues in the infotainment system, which is smartly organized and offers some fun customization, such as mood lighting. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The Re-Vamped 2020 Kia Soul is Older and Wiser, but as Hip as Ever

You might not immediately notice what Kia did differently with the 2020 Soul. That’s not a bad thing (and don’t worry, we’ll tell you!).

On the outside, the Soul is a bit sleeker in its profile. A new taillight treatment frames the liftgate and the front end is redesigned with a sleeker look. Side by side with the 2019 model the changes are subtle but sublime. Soul fans will be happy; no grumbling about radical changes that take away this car’s character.

On the inside, the redesign is more about updates and upgrades that make the Soul even more of what it is. The infotainment system is updated with a modern look and feel. And the driver’s instrument panel also has an updated look.

Kia Soul Gt Grille

The Kia Soul GT’s even hipper front face features a blacked out grille and a red GT designation. Photo: Scotty Reiss

New Model Names: X-Line Rolls Out Adventure, GT Brings All the Toys

With the 2020 model year, Kia has changed the names of some of the Soul models. There are 6 trims in the lineup, but the stars of the show are the X-line, a more affordable mid-line model with a focus on adventure, and the GT, which beefs up the Soul with a more powerful turbocharged engine and grand touring interior details. The model we test drove was loaded with options. Among them, a wireless phone charge pad and a head up display that gives the Soul the feel of a true driver’s car. I really loved being able to see the speed limit, the speed I was driving, lane departure warning information and more right on the screen in front of me.

We also got to try out the premium sound system. This is a HUGE yay. Not because it’s Harman Kardon, but because Soul’s designers really had fun with this. They tied the sound system to the car’s ambient lighting that not only lets you customize the light but also, lets the system pulse with your music. Pick your color scheme or one of the pre-set themes, which have names like “Hey! Yo!” “Party Time” and “Midnight City,” and watch the cabin light up and dance. This video from our friend MotoManTV shows how it works.

Kia Soul

The Soul’s blind spot monitors, which are in the side view mirrors, light up when a vehicle is in your blind spot. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The 2020 Kia Soul Engine Options: Fine and Fun

The 2020 Soul, as with the 2019, offers a 4 cylinder 147 horsepower engine and a new for 2020 4 cylinder turbo in the X-Line that delivers 201 horsepower in the GT model. So, you can pick your power; driving enthusiasts who want the more aggressive and responsive drive feel, the GT was fun in automatic or using the paddle shifters. But for a car this size, the 147 horsepower is ample for daily or road trip driving.

Soul drivers may ‘pay’ for the fun drive experience in their MPG. The Soul gets about 27 MPG city/33MPG highway, which is good but not great for a car this size. Blame the boxy shape and in the GT, the temptation to hit the accelerator a bit harder.

Kia Soul

The cargo cover acts as a shelf, too, so the cargo area is also a two-tier luggage space for more, and more organized, less-squished stuff. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The Art of Soul: Letting You Be You

Probably what I loved the most about this car is how it was easy to hop in and roll; it is comfortable and fun. I plugged in my phone and Apple Car Play popped right up on the infotainment screen. We texted with friends, searched for Spotify playlists and made navigation changes on the fly. The standard driver safety features, like blind spot monitor, driver attention warning, crash mitigation and my favorite, adaptive cruise control, take the stress out of driving.

The back seat is comfortable with lots of head room—I sat in back for a bit and found it quite comfortable. And, the cargo area had plenty of room for all the gear we would need to bring along. The cargo cover even doubles as a shelf allowing for drivers to better organize their gear on the road. What a smart detail!

And isn’t that the beauty of growing up? You continue to be you, just better. Same with the Kia Soul: Much the same, only better.

Kia Soul

The rear floor is flat and a great place to put a handbag. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What we Listened to in the Kia Soul

The Kia Soul inspires a fun soundtrack! This is what we loved listening to on our test drive.

Disclosure: I was Kia’s guest for this test drive; travel and accommodations were provided but all opinions are my own.

Kia Soul Glow

Soul glow Photo: Scotty ReissSubtle Changes, Including Head Up Display, Wireless Charging And A New Media Console, Keep The 2020 Kia Soul Fun Even If It'S A Bit More Grown Up.


Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss