Alain Kuhn Von Kuhnenfeld
2020 KIA Soul EX Limited
This week we are reviewing the 2020 KIA Soul in EX Limited trim. Our vehicle was assembled at the Gwang-Ju plant (South Korea) in a city by the same name, where culture and art are very prominent and influential, we are not surprised that they're building a quirky car like the KIA Soul. The test vehicle that KIA has lent us has a suggested MSRP of $29310.
Fun Factor: 6
Can it Family: 7
Karaoke Friendly: 9
City Cruising: 8
The KIA Soul 2020 has improved on several aspects when it comes to the driving dynamics; the suspension was made stiffer, and the driving experience felt very German, almost to the point that it reminded us of Germany's best selling car. KIA modernized the look of the KIA Soul, the grill and rear look more mature. They are doing something other brands are currently not doing, and that is, making cars with character. Buying a new car always comes with a bold statement, the new Soul finally cashes into that statement a car not only targeted at city buyer or the first time car buyer they've transformed the Soul into a lifestyle vehicle. We had the chance to drive the KIA Soul back to back with the MINI Countryman and found that the handling dynamics were so similar it was shocking especially when you look at both cars price difference and options. Coming back to the price, even though KIA hasn't given us highest trim, the vehicle felt like it had every option someone would want such as heated and cooling seats, sunroof and a good sound system. The 2020 KIA Soul is powered by a 2.0L engine with an IVT (Infinitely variable transmission) giving you 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft. of torque. As we mentioned above the Soul feels zippy at low speeds; however, the IVT almost has the same driving feeling as a CVT from which the subset design it's based. Given the transmission combo, the acceleration was nothing to rave about in our real-life acceleration test we were able to achieve a 0-100km/h in 8.95 seconds, while this is faster than most of the competition it only feels slower at higher speeds.
We really like the space offering of the KIA Soul, and its boxy shape enables to bring larger items, you wouldn't be able to bring in any other car in its class. We also found the Soul extremely versatile for everyday use. We were able to fit an adult mountain bike with a bike stroller and still had enough space for one car seat in the back. If you need all 5 seats in the car with the parcel shelf on, you can fit a medium-sized stroller or 1 larger suite case with several groceries bags. The rear seating offering is outstanding for its class, 3 adults can be seated in the rear; however, 2 adults would enjoy the extra room offered to them. The 2 rear seats also offer heated in our trim level something that most of the competition doesn't even offer. If you're only hauling kids, they'll love the rear seats of the Soul even so that our youngest preferred it compared to another luxury car we were testing. The whole cabin felt Zen thanks to the mood lights on the door frame that are offered for the front seats and the rear seats; these adjust to the music that you're playing. The front seats offer so many amenities its hard to mention all of them, one thing we were surprised to see, was that the cooled seats were available for both the driver and co-pilot. Having both cooled seats and heated seats is something generally reserved for a luxury offering normally. Additionally, the heads up display provides necessary information enhancing the driving comfort instead of having to look at your dash to confirm your speed or get directions when using the integrated GPS of the car. The heads up display in the Soul is the type that projected the information to a transparent plastic panel. The front seats of the KIA Soul are a bit on the stiffer side and adjustment can be made easily for a tall driver or a smaller driver.
The average fuel consumption of the KIA Soul we observed was 7.5L per 100km, as for the city we achieved 8.6L per 100km and on the HWY 6.9L per 100km. KIA announces a combined result of 7.9L per 100km, as for the City 8.6L per 100km and 7.1L per 100km for the 2020 KIA Soul. Our results are pretty close to those announced by KIA, even beating them and these could have been even better as we've driven the Soul with lots of enthusiasm. These results are very respectable for a car of this size, and it also shows that the new fuel tests capture fuel consumption in a more realistic way.
How is the KIA Soul on the HWY, we enjoyed the drivability of the KIA Soul. It feels planted on the road thanks to the massive 18inch wheels (235/45R18) made it feel very stable, without sacrificing driving comfort. For longer trips, the seating comfort is acceptable; the higher seating position gives you excellent visibility. The boxy shape does bring more wind noise into the cabin at higher speeds making it harder to hear your rear passengers.
Another point we really enjoyed on the Soul is the effort KIA has put into making sure that the sound quality was outstanding, the optional Harman/Kardon sound system is tuned better than what we see in many luxury vehicles. We can say the Soul lives up to its nameplate! For those in love with music, will not be disappointed as they can set up 6 different types of mood lighting on the door trim to add to the ambience inside the KIA Soul. Without overdoing it, it brought joy to the driving experience. The infotainment of the KIA Soul is intuitive and uses a massive 10.25-inch display, making you feel like all the commands are at your fingertips and ergonomically positioned. The integrated maps are easy to use, it's just too bad that to modify your destination, the car needs to be at a stillstand even if your co-pilot is entering the directions for you. The system allows you to connect your Apple device or Android easily without too much hassle. As a result, the experience using Apple Car Play & Android Auto is pleasant. It's almost a shame not to use KIA's own system as it has been well designed, making it easy to use.
Car seat installation takes a little bit more patience as the ISOFIX ports are hidden underneath the seat. The leather needs to be pushed back to gain access to them, we at Driving fun and family-like when the ports are easily accessible, especially for those that need to switch around car seats. On the flipside the door opening is large, making it easier to install a variety of car seats possible. The rear anchor to attach car seat is easily accessible from the trunk. As for toddler accessing the car by themselves, it is simple because the door handle can be opened with ease and access to the vehicle is without hassle thanks to the low door frame.
Now for the last part of our review, how does the KIA Soul manage in the city? For starters, we enjoyed the practical and compact size making it easy to park. We found the rear camera of good quality so even when parking in a tight spot we could have a good clear view of where we were going. The suspension is firmer but takes the potholes well, all in all, it's a great spacious city car. We enjoyed opening the windows and sunroof, blasting out our music, while keeping our back fresh and cool. The C- pillar does give you a large blind spot, luckily the blind-spot monitoring is available in all trims except the bare bone version of the Soul.
Why would we buy the KIA Soul and what we like: For its interior space, all the amenities it offers without having to break the bank and clear trims without a million options. Its sound system and large infotainment. Good value for its price.
Why wouldn't we buy the KIA Soul and what we didn't like: More engine options, the US gets the 1.6L turbo. Rear visibility when changing lanes. IVT is a step up from CVT; however, it still doesn't beat a manual or a geared automatic, and it does feel slightly sluggish at higher speeds.