The modernization of the Soul’s exterior includes a fantastic band of lighting surrounding the liftgate. The front end is in step with the look, although the size of the lower grille opening is quite disproportionate. Photo: Kia

Who says fun and funky can’t also be practical?

The Soul does the utility-vehicle dance differently than just about every other nameplate on the market

The Soul does the utility-vehicle dance differently than just about every other nameplate on the market. It’s a formula that has been attempted by other automakers — think about the Honda Element — but none as successfully as Kia’s smash-hit funky wagon.

The urban runabout was designed primarily for the youth market, but has wound up in the driveways of wider swath of buyers since its 2010-model-year launch. The Soul’s attention-getting bodywork was updated four years later and for the 2020 model year the vehicle receives a complete overhaul, including a new structure, updated content and revised powertrain choices.

The new Soul retains the quirkiness of previous models, but the front end — previously the least-attractive spot — now displays a minimal grille above a large air intake that appears influenced by current Toyota models. There are also slimmed-down headlights and dominating running light/fog light pods positioned below a rounder hood. Somehow, Kia’s designers found a way to make these disparate features sync together.

Vertically shaped taillights are conjoined to a light bar extending across the roofline that almost completely encircles the wider hatch opening, providing a squared-off appearance.

The interior has likewise been updated, with modern graphic displays for the gauge cluster and an available 26-centimetre touchscreen. The previous dual speakers that were set about dashboard’s air vents have been relocated to the front door panels and are part of an available mood-lighting system. Its six different settings, with names such as Party Time, Romance, Hey! and Midnight City, will pulse to the beat of whatever music being played through the audio system.

The 2020 Soul receives a lighter and stiffer platform that results in the car’s capacities changing, however slightly. Overall length increases by about five centimetres and the distance between the front and rear wheels gains a bit more than an 2.5 centimetres. Likewise, cargo capacity behind the rear seat is up a touch, while both body width and height remain unchanged.

Ground clearance measures 17 centimetres, or slightly more than that of the previous model. This despite the fact that the Soul remains a front-wheel driver and is not designed to go off road.

The bottom line: The Soul is just as spacious as it has always been, with plenty of head and legroom for even the tallest occupants and a commanding view of the surrounding scenery.

The Soul’s three available engine picks have been reduced to two for 2020.

The previous base 130-horsepower 1.6-litre four-cylinder and the optional 161-horsepower 2.0-litre four-cylinder have been replaced by a single (and new) 2.0-litre that makes 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque.

The optional turbocharged 1.6 carries over from 2019 at 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque.

A six-speed manual transmission is standard in the base Soul LX, while a continuously variable unit (CVT) is available on that trim and is standard with the S, X-Line, EX and GT-Line 2.0L.

The top-level GT-Line 1.6T is the only model equipped with the turbo engine, which is mated to a seven-speed paddle-shifted automatic transmission.

For best fuel economy, the 2.0 four-cylinder with the CVT is rated at 8.6 l/100 km in the city, 7.1 on the highway and 7.8 combined.

The Soul LX starts at $23,000 (including destination fees), with the GT-Line Limited 1.6T and topping out at $31,400.

Also in the lineup is the Soul EV ($44,500), with 201 horsepower and 291 pound-feet of torque (previously 109/210). Maximum range jumps to 383 kilometres from 178.

The EV and the gasoline-powered Souls are indicative of Kia’s efforts to keep the boxy attention-getter as a popular pick in its class, even if that class has only one bona fide member.

What you should know: 2020 Kia Soul

Type: Four-door, front-wheel-drive compact utility vehicle

Engines (h.p.): 2.0-litre DOHC I-4 (247); 1.6-litre DOHC I-4, turbocharged (201)

Transmissions: Six-speed manual; continuously variable (CVT); seven-speed automated manual (std. with turbo I-4)

Market position: For the past decade, the Kia Soul has turned the small-utility-vehicle class upside-down. It’s a case of practicality running headlong into offbeat styling that makes this hard-to-categorize model so desirable.

Points: Second-generation model keeps its unusual looks, but has matured somewhat. • Elevated interior content is now more up to date. • New base engine is more powerful and fuel efficient, while optional turbo I-4 makes for a sportier drive. • Upcoming EV version should give the competition a run for its money in performance and range.

Active safety: Blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic backup alert (opt.); active cruise control (opt.); emergency braking (opt.); drowsy-driver alert (opt.)

L/100 km (city/hwy) 8.6/7.1 (2.0, MT); Base price (incl. destination) $23,000

BY COMPARISON

Nissan Kicks

Base price: $20,150

Small, tall wagon comes with FWD and a 125-h.p. four-cylinder.

Toyota C-HR

Base price: $25,500

Stylish FWD model could use a bit more power. Cargo capacity is average.

Jeep Renegade

Base price: $30,450

Distinctively styled model gets a new turbo-I-4 option. 4×4 drivetrain is standard.

If you’re interested in new or used vehicles, be sure to visit TodaysDrive.com to find your dream car today!

-written by Malcom Gunn, Managing Partner at Wheelbase Media

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

The available mood-lighting system has six settings that pulse to the beat of the music being played through the audio system. Photo: Kia

A new 2.0-litre four-cylinder base engine replaces the previous 1.6 and 2.0, while the optional turbocharged 1.6 carries over from the 2019 model. Photo: Kia

The interior gets new graphic displays for the gauge cluster and an available 26-centimetre touch-screen. The round button hubs on the steering wheel and the fan-shaped vents on the dash fit the unique stature of the Soul. Photo: Kia

Just Posted

B.C. Ferries has a mandatory mask policy on vessels and at terminals. (News Bulletin file photo)
UPDATE: No tickets for anti-maskers on B.C. Ferries

West Van Police say their intention was to ‘keep the peace’ after being called to terminal

Steven Michael Bacon pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder of Nanaimo teen Makayla Chang. (Photos submitted)
Accused pleads not guilty in Nanaimo teen’s 2017 murder

Steven Bacon appeared in Nanaimo court Monday via video link from Thunder Bay

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Greater Victoria in high-demand on website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan poses with members of the public during a ‘mainstreeting’ campaign stop Sunday, Oct. 18, at Parksville Community Park. (Peter McCully/Black Press)
‘Buy a boat,’ premier advises anti-maskers on B.C. Ferries

John Horgan talks COVID-19 misinformation, cancer centre, long-term care with News Bulletin

The French Creek Pollution Control Centre. (PQB News file photo)
RDN targets grants for major projects in Nanoose Bay, French Creek and Whiskey Creek

Official says projects have a strong chance to be approved for cash

In this photo provided by Shannon Kiss, smoke from the CalWood Fire billows, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, as seen from Gunbarrel, Colo. (Shannon Kiss via AP)
‘First guys out:’ Western Canadian air tanker fleet busy despite drop in wildfires

CEO believes wildfires have become more dangerous in recent years as people live closer to where they start

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

Candidates in the Nanaimo riding include Kathleen Jones, B.C. Liberal Party, top left; Sheila Malcolmson, NDP; Lia Versaevel, Green Party. (Photos submitted/News Bulletin photo/Elections B.C. image)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Nanaimo candidates

Provincial election candidates discuss their priorities in their own words

Candidates in the Nanaimo-North Cowichan riding include Chris Istace, B.C. Green Party, top left; Duck Paterson, B.C. Liberals; and Doug Routley, NDP. (Photos submitted/Elections B.C. image)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Nanaimo-North Cowichan candidates

Provincial election candidates discuss their priorities in their own words

Candidates in the Parksville-Qualicum riding include Rob Lyon, B.C. Green Party, top left; Don Purdey, Conservatives; John St. John, independent; Michelle Stilwell, B.C. Liberals; and Adam Walker, B.C. NDP. (Photos submitted/Elections B.C. image)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Parksville-Qualicum candidates

Provincial election candidates discuss their priorities in their own words

(File photo)
RCMP: Two men face charges in reported Parksville fatal hit-and-run

Investigation into man’s death began in August of 2019

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Most Read