Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins
The formidable Kia Soul was born and bred on the rhythms and energy of music, so of course you can say it’s a Soul Rebel as Bob Marley poignantly chanted about. When it first hit the streets in 2009, the small, boxy ride was full of positive vibrations that made owners alike feel good about their ride while spawning joyful emotions during commutes. For 2019 the third generation derivative is showy as ever with enough flavor to satisfy a crowd full of urban hipsters.
Offered in five trim levels – LX, S, X-Line, GT-Line and EX – the 2020 Soul is diverse enough for the various needs of customers looking for a cool city vehicle that maneuvers with ease, is simple to park and offers a boatload of tech amenities to accentuate today’s connected society. Plus, the all-new Soul EV enters the scene this summer for those focused on green energy mobility. Arriving to dealers as we speak, the Soul has witnessed its original Nissan Cube and Scion competition disappear while taking on a new breed of challengers in the likes of the Nissan Kicks and Toyota C-HR. Thus, customers that adore the mathematical shape of their Soulmate will be happy to know that they are in no eminent threat of an antagonist rolling up at the light with similar styling and dissimilar badging.
For the drive experience I touched down in San Diego for a fresh few days with the Soul GT-Line and X-Line, the most compelling variants on the roster. Specifically, Kia made available the $21,490 X-Line IVT 2.0L I4 and the fully loaded $27,490 GT-Line 7DCT 1.6L turbo I4. For starters, the Soul LX 6MT 2.0L I4 kicks off at just $17,490. Each pricing strategy excludes the $995 destination charge.
Stylistically, the 165.2” long newfangled body of the Kia Soul is trendy, a bit epic and fun looking. Although it was shaped from a square, the corners have been rounded, the grille is now exciting, the rims are sporty and the lights are aggressively attracting. I especially admire the rear taillamps that wrap around the entire frame of the wider tailgate like a horseshoe. Pretty clever. Moreover, on the GT-Line you receive dual centered chrome exhaust tips as if the little guy was a Porsche. As you can see, the 2020 design themes are far from opaque, but direct and invigorating.
I started the day testing the rugged X-Line first, which is not an AWD model if you were wondering. The cabin is roomy and comfortable and features clothe/mesh seats with side bolsters, a sporty steering wheel (manual steering column), drive mode with Normal and Sport selections and Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Behind the wheel the Soul provides on-center steering, a solid suspension and decent acceleration. Yet, the audio system is basic, the seats had manual adjustments, you only receive one front USB outlet and the infotainment center doesn’t offer many apps.
However, everyone’s soul requires a unique set of inputs to synergize with their ambitions. Hence the reason Kia offers the GT-Line with a 1.6-liter twin-scroll turbocharged I-4 and 7-speed dual-clutch transmission pairing. Its 201-horsepower, 195 lb.-ft of torque and sport-tuned suspension were collectively thrilling, particularly in Sport mode. The flat-bottom, racing like steering wheel with paddle shifters, 18” alloy spins and bigger brakes are other sports focused aspects of this model Soul. The vehicle felt planted and accelerated properly when needed.
My GT-Line was also blessed with a wireless charge pad, a power driver’s seat, leather and heated seats with red cross-stitching, a bigger 10.25” HD touchscreen with cleaner graphics, two USB outlets, a sunroof, an 8” Head-Up Display and Bluetooth Multi-Connection for two devices. The sound mood lighting is another youthful effect that lights up the doors based on the beat of the music playing. This soulfully tied into our rocking 640-watt, 10-speaker Harman Kardon audio system with Clari-Fi and Quantum Logic Surround technologies.
As an owner you will also be assured that your Soul is as safe as can be with advanced safety systems from Kia Drive Wise including Forward Collision Avoidance, Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Changing Assist, Driver Attention Warning, Blind-spot Collision Warning and Smart Cruise Control to name a few. Smart, attractive and safe is the way to ride in 2019 and the 2020 Soul provides it all.