Year, Make, Model: 2020 Kia Soul & Soul EV
Topline: Making its debut at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, Kia's redesigned Soul aims to update their volume subcompact, maintaining a competitive edge without sacrificing what makes the Soul unique.
What's New: The 2020 Soul is slightly longer, resulting in an additional five cubic feet of cargo capacity. By utilizing Advanced High Strength Steel, Kia hopes that the more rigid structure is safer, too.
The interior has been designed to offer a "visceral musical experience," while the available 10.25-inch touchscreen and heads-up display keep the Soul on the cutting edge of infotainment. Performance & appearance models—the GT-Line and X-Line, respectively—add some additional excitement and personalization to the boxy subcompact.
There's also a host of Kia Drive Wise features available, such as lane keeping & lane change assist, forward collision assist, blind spot warning, smart cruise control, and high beam assist, among others.
The 2020 Soul is powered by either a 147 horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder or a 201-horsepower 1.6-liter gasoline direct injection turbo. The 2.0-liter will be backed up by either a six-speed manual or an "IVT" (Intelligently Variable Transmission); the 1.6-liter turbo will be available only with a seven-speed DCT. The Soul EV is powered by a 201 horsepower electric motor with an impressive 291 pound-feet of torque.
The Soul EV's battery has been similarly upgraded, to a liquid-cooled lithium-ion unit good for 64 kWh. While Kia hasn't completed testing, but driving range should be over 200 miles, assuming it's the same battery found in the Kia Nero concept unveiled at CES.
Quotable: "Since the Kia Soul first arrived on the scene in 2009, it has established a very real and remarkable connection with music," read the press release. "This continues to be a core attribute of the Soul's persona and the volume has been turned up to 11 with a new mood lighting system that tailors the interior ambiance according to a variety of selectable “moods”: Hey! Yo!, Party Time, Traveling, Romance, Midnight City, Cafe."
What You Need to Know: While growing slightly larger and more upmarket (check out that Range Rover-esque front fascia!), the Kia Soul looks to offer more of the same to subcompact buyers—and that's a good thing.
In addition to value and utility, the new Soul seems to put at least a passing emphasis on driving enjoyment—at least, surprisingly enough, in the Soul EV model. Small cars now are a far cry from the penalty boxes they were a few short decades ago.
Available Harmon-Kardon premium audio, performance options, and a variety of available styling themes lead us to believe that, despite the popularity of SUVs and crossovers, there's space in the market for a premium small car. At least Kia seems to agree with us.