SEATTLE — It’s a great time for KIA. The “little company that could” started out years ago as the brand folks didn’t want to own. What an amazing transition we’ve seen them evolve into as a premier automaker. In an era of high-prices on new vehicles, the latest Soul GT from KIA, is an admirable option for many folks on a budget.
Shedding a bit of its boxy-look, this latest 2020 Soul has slightly more rounded curves, an updated front fascia and enough tech and goodies inside, to satiate most buyers in this segment. We reviewed this vehicle last year but now we have the GT model.
Under the hood is where we find the most significant upgrade over other models. The standard Soul has a 2.0 liter with 147 horsepower. However, this GT model features a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine that is good for 201 horsepower at 6,000rpm and 195 lb-ft of torque that kicks in as low as 1,500rpm. It’s mated to a 7-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters.
Inside, nothing feels cheap and that’s a huge testament to the level of detail KIA put into this Soul. However, there are a few things missing from previous years that we’d like to see continued. Those include power-adjustable front passenger seats, ventilated front seats and heated rear seats. Additionally, KIA has removed the panoramic roof and instead have gone to a more standardized sunroof.
The updated infotainment screen is a much welcomed improvement. It’s 10.25-inch touchscreen provides a crystal clear display and is very easy to use. You can have it display simultaneous information, such as your mapping and entertainment info at the same time. The sound quality from its high-powered audio system is good but not stellar. Gone are the days of our favorite Infinity-systems that KIA used to offer. Additionally, the led lighting around the speakers seems a bit silly but does play into the more youthful demographic of the Soul.
Front seating is supporting and does offer heating elements to keep things extra warm in those cold-weather months. We’d like to see power-adjustable seats for both driver and passenger, however. The rear seating is rather good and offers more than ample leg-room, even for adult passengers. It doesn’t feel cramped at all and has plenty of headroom.
Its rear cargo area offers ample storage and does feature a collapsible floor that will yield you about another 6-inches of depth for even more space. For maximum payload capacity, however, you can fold down the rear seats.
On the road:
Driving aids consist of blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, parking assistance, front-collision emergency braking and a pop-up heads-up display.
On the road, the extra power from the turbo-charged engine is a very welcomed upgrade over the normally aspirated 2.0-liter offered on lower-tier models. There’s plenty of passing power, however, turbo-lag is also very present. While the transmission does shift quick when it wants to – it does seem to have issues at times finding the right gear. After driving this GT model for a few days, you do learn how to compensate for that turbo-lag, however.
Handing is rather good, considering its height – there isn’t a ton of body-roll and overall it handles itself very well on the road. Ride quality is good for such a short wheelbase but it’s not stellar. Additionally, there is quite a bit of road noise.
In the end, the 2020 Soul is a great evolution and helps propel the platform further. Even with its limited amount of drawbacks, it’s still a very compelling car for those looking to spend under $30,000 and want more of a compact SUV kind of vehicle.