• 2020 Kia Soul

The Korean automaker’s funky freshest

It ain’t easy standing out in the overly-saturated subcompact crossover segment, but the Kia Soul does exactly that with its mix of unique and attractive styling, equipment, and overall value. Now the Soul enters its third generation for the 2020 model year with a debut at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, and its bringing a fresh take on the boxy goodness of the outgoing model, plus loads of gear, fun features, and a stout turbo engine option.

2020 Kia Soul Exterior Styling

  • Updated boxy styling of the previous model
  • Larger front grille
  • Reshaped, thin headlight housings
  • Optional LED lighting elements
  • Optional fog lights in lower bumper
  • Wheel sizing up to 18 inches in diameter
  • Flat roof maximizes interior space
  • New 3D taillight design
  • 2.2 inches longer overall
  • Wheelbase grows by 1.2 inches
  • Overall height and width remain unchanged
2020 Kia Soul
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Without a doubt, one of the Kia Soul’s big draws is the way it looks.

While the Kia’s competitors go with more creases and a bigger, broader stance, the latest third-gen Soul keeps the same weirdly attractive boxy design as the outgoing model. This time around, it’s slightly different from what we’ve seen before from Kia, and now includes a bigger front grille, as well as numerous options to get a two-tone look for the paint.

The front fenders are new as well, while the fascia is outfitted with a number of updated lighting bits. For example, the headlights use a thin, wide shape that stretches back into the fenders and come connected by an even thinner upper grille intake.

Complementing the new headlights are new daytime running lights and new turn signals as well, while the options list includes LED headlights and fog lights integrated with the lower bumper for extra forward illumination.

2020 Kia Soul
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Moving to the sides, we find the Soul’s cargo box form in its full glory.

The roofline is arrow straight, leading back to a 90-degree angle for the rear hatch lid, maximizing space inside. Up top, you’ll notice mounting points for the roof rails, while in the corners, wheel sizing ranges up to 18 inches in diameter. Kia also says the C-pillars were designed to look like airplane wings.

Viewed from the rear, the third-generation Kia Soul is even more square, and offers a cool 3D-shape for the taillights that appears to go up and around the entire hatch. You’ll also notice the Soul’s signature vertical rear window and “Island” design, which was taken from models of the past.

What you might not notice from just a quick glance is that the 2020 Kia Soul also gains a brand-new set of exterior dimensions, with an extra 2.2 inches added to the the overall length and an extra 1.2 inches added to the wheelbase. Meanwhile, the overall width and height are unchanged compared to the outgoing model.

2020 Kia Soul Exterior Dimensions

Overall Length 165.2 inches (2.2 inches longer)
Overall Width 70.9 inches (no change)
Overall Height 63 inches (no change)
Wheelbase 102.4 inches (1.2 inches longer)

2020 Kia Soul Interior Design

  • Not too many layout updates in the cabin
  • Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth support
  • Optional 10.25-inch HD color touchscreen
  • Optional dual automatic climate control
  • Optional 8.0-inch heads-up display
  • Optional D-shaped leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Optional sound-driven mood lighting
  • Optional 640-watt Harman Kardon audio
  • Extra 0.2 inches of front legroom
  • 0.3 inches less rear legroom
  • 23.8 cubic feet of cargo (+5 cubic feet)
2020 Kia Soul
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The interior of the new Kia Soul is pretty close to the previous model in terms of look and layout, but still includes a few nice updates worth pointing out.

For example, the center console surround now looks rounder and larger, now encompassing the air vents, while the shifter surround looks more square than before. The gauge pod shroud is also deeper and broader than that of the outgoing model.

However, more important are the Soul’s features, which now include Kia’s latest infotainment system, plus both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support. Bluetooth wireless streaming is included as well.

Step up in the range, and you’ll get the optional 10.25-inch HD color touchscreen, which comes with a split screen function, as well as a rearview monitor and parking guidance. The upgraded screen is offered as standard equipment on the EX and GT-Line with the turbocharged engine option.

In terms of options, the Kia Soul gets wireless smartphone charging, dual automatic climate control, an 8.0-inch heads-up display, and a D-shaped leather-wrapped steering wheel.

2020 Kia Soul
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Audiophiles are also encouraged to check out the optional 640-watt Harman Kardon audio system.

This upgraded stereo actually doubles the wattage of the current Soul, and includes an amp plus 10 speakers with a center speaker and a subwoofer. The Soul also offers its classic signature tweeter speakers.

Speaking of music, Kia says the new Soul’s interior was designed with a theme called the “emotional visualization of sound,” giving a nod to the brand’s focus on premium sound delivery from models of the past. This also includes optional sound mood lighting added to the center door panels. The mood lighting is also part of the 3D pattern on the upper door panels that will “synchronize to the beat of the music playing through the Soul’s audio system.”

Multiple colors are on offer for this, as is a selection of “moods” that include “Hey! Yo!,” “Party Time,” “Traveling,” “Romance,” “Midnight City,” and “Cafe.”

In terms of cabin dimensions, the Soul offers extra legroom in front. However, the legroom offered by the rear bench is actually decreased compared to the previous model. The 2020 Soul also has less headroom than before.

2020 Kia Soul
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However, for those buyers looking to actually use their Soul to move things from A to B, the 2020 Soul does offer more cargo capacity.

The rear lift gate is both wider and lower than before, and it comes with a dual-level cargo board that can swallow both large and tall items, or divide your cargo as needed. The front door openings are also larger than before, aiding with overall ingress and egress.

Finally, the 2020 Soul comes with the Kia Drive Wise suite of technology, which includes Forward Collision Avoidance, Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Changing Assist, Driver Attention Warning, Blind-spot Collision Warning, Rear Cross Collision Warning, Smart Cruise Control, and High Beam Assist.

2020 Kia Soul Interior Dimensions

Legroom (front) 41.1 inches (0.2 inches longer)
Legroom (rear) 38.8 inches (0.3 inches shorter)
Headroom without sunroof (front) 39.4 inches (0.2 inches lower)
Headroom without sunroof (rear) 39.5 inches (no difference)
Shoulder room (front) 55.5 inches (no difference)
Shoulder room (rear) 54.7 inches (no difference)
Cargo capacity 23.8 cubic feet (5 more cubic feet)

2020 Kia Soul Drivetrain And Performance

  • Front-engine, FWD drivetrain as standard
  • Naturally aspirated and turbo engine options
  • EV model offered as well
  • CVT and manual transmissions
  • Optional seven-speed automatic
  • Bigger brakes and sport suspension offered
  • Standard suspension tuned for less NVH
2020 Kia Soul
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As in years past, the Kia Soul once again utilizes a front-engine, FWD drivetrain layout.

The powertrain lineup includes a standard normally aspirated engine, and an optional turbocharged engine.

For those of you more interested in a greener alternative, there’s also a Soul EV model. Check out our full review on the electrified Soul here.

Back to the gas-only model variants. The line kicks off with a 2.0-liter “Nu” four-cylinder engine, which produces upwards of 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. Transmission options for the NA 2.0-liter include an Intelligent Variable Transmission, which is Kia’s own take on a Continuously Variable Transmission and was developed in-house. Interestingly, Kia is also offering a six-speed manual option as well.

If you’re looking for a Soul with a little more punch, Kia is also offering a turbocharged 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder, which produces 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque and connects to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

2020 Kia Soul
- image 808159
The more-powerful engine pairs well with the 18-inch wheel option, with the plus-sized rollers wrapped in 235/45R18 tires.

There’s also an optional sports tuned suspension package and bigger brakes offered with the GT-Line model variant.

Kia also likes to point out that the Soul’s overall suspension tuning was revised to reduce NVH and sharpen handling with the latest generational changeover.

Tear away the revised body panels, and you’ll discover an underlying structure that’s stronger than the model that came before. Standout features here include materials like Advanced High Strength Steel, hot stamped steel construction, and new structural adhesives to keep it all together. Kia says it expects the highest possible crash ratings from the NHTSA (National Traffic Highway Safety Administration) and IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) when the new Soul is put through each organization’s respective battery of crash tests.

2020 Kis SOUL specifications

Type 2.0L I-4, Multi-Port Injection (MPI) 1.6L-Turbo twin-scroll, Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI)
Displacement (cc) 1,999 CC 1,591 cc
Bore x stroke (mm) 81.0 x 97.0 mm 77.0 mm x 85.44 mm
Compression ratio 12.5:1 10.0:1
Horsepower 147 hp @ 6,200 rpm 201 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque 132 lb.-ft. @ 4,500 rpm 195 lb.-ft. @ 1,500 - 4,500 rpm
Block Aluminum Aluminum
Head Aluminum Aluminum
Injection system Spark ignition system Spark ignition system
Fuel System Multi-Port Injection (MPI) Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI)
Engine Oil Capacity (liters) 4.0 liters 4.5 liters
Fuel tank capacity (gal.) 14.3 gallons 14.3 gallons

2020 Kia Soul Prices

2020 Kia Soul
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Kia will offer six individual trim levels for the Soul, starting with the LX and followed by the S, the X-Line, the GT-Line, the EX, and the EX Designer Collection.

With respect to the standout features for each of the grade levels, the GT-Line looks to be the most “performance flavored” of the bunch, and comes with a unique sport-styled front and rear fascia, 18-inch wheels, unique side skirts, red accents for the front fascia, integrated fog lights in the front grille, glossy black sideview mirrors, unique badging, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, and an optional turbo engine package. Go for the turbo engine, and you’ll also get a chromed-out center exhaust, bigger brakes, and a sport-tuned suspension.

Then there’s the X-Line, which comes off as the more “off-roader” themed model of the bunch. Go for this one and you’ll get a new body kit adorned with tough lower body cladding and fender flares for a decidedly “chunkier” look, plus a unique 18-inch wheel design, roof rail inspired accents, optional two-tone paint, and fog lights.

Finally there’s the EX Designer Collection, which comes with 18-inch wheels with black spokes, LED headlights and fog lights, and a two-tone roof.

Pricing information is not yet available, but is expected to drop when Kia finally sends the third-gen Soul to dealers some time in the first half of next year.

2020 Kia Soul Competition

Chevrolet Trax

2017 Chevrolet Trax High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 664927

The Chevy Trax hit Canada and other markets as early as the 2013 model year, but wasn’t opened to U.S. markets until 2015. With an overall length of 165.2 inches, the Trax is a little longer than the Soul, but still fits the bill as a competitor. The latest Trax received a mid-cycle update for the 2017 model year, and features a new front fascia, LED daytime running lights, and new taillights. In the corners, the Trax sports 18-inch alloy wheels, while the interior receives a new, more upscale treatment throughout, with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen handling the infotainment duties. The drivetrain options include FWD as standard and AWD as an available option, while under the hood you’ll find a turbocharged 1.4-liter inline four-cylinder producing 138 horsepower, and mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Pricing starts at $21,300.

Read our full review on the 2017 Chevrolet Trax.

Honda HR-V

2016 - 2017 Honda HR-V High Resolution Exterior
- image 578882

Honda starting selling the HR-V in Japan back in 2013, with U.S. sales kicking off for the 2016 model year. The latest iteration for the 2019 model year gains a variety of exterior aesthetics updates, and includes a broad chromed-out bar stretching across the front fascia’s main intake, as well as a more upright stance, a rising belt line, and LED headlights to boot. There are five trim levels to choose from, while technology options including adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, and automatic emergency braking providing more safety, and Apple CarPlay plus Android Auto rounding out the infotainment spec. Mounted up front, you’ll find a 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder engine, which produces upwards of 141 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of torque. Motivation is routed to the front axle by way of a CVT automatic, while AWD is optional. The six-speed manual also bites the dust for the 2019 model year update. Pricing starts at $20,520.

Read our full review on the 2016 - 2017 Honda HR-V.

Final Thoughts

2020 Kia Soul
- image 807302
With an original debut at the 2008 Paris Motor Show, it seems as though the Soul has hit its stride with this third generation.

It still brings eccentric styling to bear, but it isn’t just weird for the sake of weirdness - it really owns the look and makes it work. The tech in the cabin is nice as well, and the tall rear cargo area can swallow a decent amount of stuff.

We’re also really digging the turbo engine option, which should prove to be quick enough for just about about any buyer’s needs. Overall, things are looking quite good for the new Soul.

If you’re in the market for a unique, peppy, fun little crossover offering oodles of value at every turn, then the Soul is definitely worth a look.

  • Leave it
    • More practical options out there
    • More mature buyers might find some features too gimmicky

Further reading

2020 Kia Soul EV
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Read our full review on the 2020 Kia SOUL EV.

2020 Kia Soul
- image 807307

2020 Kia SOUL Arrives With a Fresh Redesign That Doubles Down on The Quirkiness

The 2020 Kia Soul Doubles Down on Range- Literally
- image 807495

The 2020 Kia Soul Doubles Down on Range- Literally

2020 Kia Soul Exterior Spyshots
- image 765499

Read our full speculative review on the 2019 Kia SOUL.

2015 Kia Soul EV High Resolution Exterior
- image 541006

Read our full review on the 2015 Kia Soul EV.

2017 Kia Soul Turbo High Resolution Exterior
- image 694702

Read our full review on the 2017 Kia SOUL Turbo.

2014 Kia Soul High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 499954

Read our full review on the 2014 Kia Soul.

Jonathan Lopez
Jonathan Lopez
About the author

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