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2020 Kia Soul Preview

The 2020 Kia Soul kicks out even more jams—if such a thing were possible—with a turbo-4 edition, superwide touchscreens, and disco-ready ambient lighting.

The 2020 Kia Soul kicks off a third generation of perky, pint-sized hatchbacks for the South Korean automaker. Gone are the diacritical trim levels (Soul !, we’re sorry, not sorry, you’re gone), but returning is the all-electric version—while a floating roof makes a maiden appearance.

Kia will sell the 2020 Soul in six different versions: LX, S, X-Line, GT-Line, EX, EX Designer Collection, and Soul EV. Still no James Brown edition, a decision we continue to rue.

We’ll break down what we know for you in this preview—and tell you more about the 2020 Soul EV in a separate preview—but we can’t tell you how either drives because we haven’t been behind the wheel them yet. We’ll give the 2020 Soul a rating once that happens, which we think will be soon. 

With the 2020 Soul, Kia aims to sharpen the hatch’s street style. Pardon us for the judgement, but with each generation the Soul’s wandered a little more off its own funky reservation. The third-generation machine owes something to Scion, we think, with its slit-like headlights, with the angled and chamfered air intakes that take over the bottom half of its front end. The wheel wells emboss themselves on a flatter set of doors and quarter panels, while the roofline slims down and adopts the styling trick that’s drifted into cliche—a black swath covers part of the rear roof pillar, and makes it appear to float. Inside, the Soul’s cabin specs up to a 10.3-inch screen on the most expensive models, in a full-fledged digital mutiny. Its mood lighting can sync up with the sound system.

The 2020 Soul gets some on-trend upsizing, too. The 165.2-inch overall length is up 2.2 inches, and the 102.4-inch wheelbase has grown by 1.2 inches. Kia promises 5.0 more cubic feet of storage space behind the rear seat, for a total of 23.8 with five passengers on board. Other interior dimensions are nearly unchanged, but the promises also extend to a bigger liftgate opening and bigger front doors.

Gas-powered versions of the 2020 Soul pair a 147-horsepower 2.0-liter inline-4 with either a 6-speed manual transmission or a CVT; the base engine drops 132 pound-feet of torque. A turbocharged Soul sports a 201-hp 1.6-liter turbo-4 with 195 lb-ft of torque, managed by a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, both familiar units from the 2019 Hyundai Veloster. Kia credits a stiffer body and a retuned suspension with better handling, but we’ll be the judges of that.

Available or standard safety equipment includes automatic emergency braking, parking sensors, blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and automatic high beams. Other features that will be on deck include wireless smartphone charging, automatic climate control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, a 10-speaker audio system with 640 watts of power, 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, and of course, a contrasting-color roof.

The 2020 Kia Soul goes on sale in 2019; prices and fuel economy haven’t been disclosed.

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