2021 Soul New Car Test Drive
The Kia Soul hatchback is new for 2020. The original Soul arrived during a blitz of quirky hatchbacks including the Nissan Cube, Scion xB and Honda Element, but it has outlived them all-and it looks better than ever.
The new Soul is bigger by inches, with a new likable face that unifies the previous split grille, while most of the interior is new. But its boxy style, which has grown on us, is mostly unchanged.
Its ride remains quiet, the fuel-efficient powertrains remain fuel-efficient, and the versatile interiors are still comfortable. The Soul is no pocket rocket, but it is agile, and its transmission is responsive around town.
The Soul's base engine is a 2.0-liter making 147 horsepower, and although it's far from quick, it's a better choice than the optional engine, a peaky 1.6-liter turbo-4 that's teamed with a finicky automatic transmission.
EPA gas mileage for the 4-cylinder automatic is 27 mpg city, 33 highway, and 30 combined. A manual transmission is available but drops the mileage to 25/31/27 mpg. The turbocharged GT gets 27/32/29 mpg. This year's Soul EX gets 'eco'? badges and a 29/35/31-mpg rating.
As for safety, the 2020 Soul hasn't been crash-tested yet. Automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warnings and blind-spot monitors are standard on all but the base LX. Soul
S and higher trims add active lane control, and a driver-attention warning if the car drifts from its lane too often. GT Line models with the turbo engine get pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, and a head-up display.
The base Soul LX starts at a very affordable $18,500. It comes with steel 16-inch wheels with covers, cloth upholstery, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, one USB port, power windows and locks, and an impressive 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty-but no keyless entry, center armrest, or active safety features.
After that comes the X-Line, S, EX, and GT trims.
The top model, a GT-Line with 1.6-liter turbo-4 costs $28,000. At that price the Soul loses any value advantage it might have over roomier rivals. It adds synthetic leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, a slick 10.3-inch touchscreen for infotainment with smartphone compatibility, two USB ports, a wireless smartphone charger, keyless ignition, premium audio by Harman Kardon, active safety features, a head-up display, and speaker lights.
The GT-Line with the base engine is a better value at just over $22,000, but it doesn't offer the impressive 10.3-inch touchscreen or synthetic leather upholstery.
The best value is the S model at about the same price, adding 17-inch wheels, active safety features, and upgraded cloth upholstery.
EX trim levels push past $22,000. A Designer Collection upgrade for the EX version adds bigger wheels, synthetic leather, upgraded headlights, but no runway strut.