June 30, 2020 By Kevin C. Limjoco Photos by Isabel N. Delos Reyes

2020 Kia Soul X-Line

Maturing Gracefully

I have had a soft spot for the Kia Soul since it was first released over a decade ago. I like how Kia wanted to apply more distinctive styling and packaging while still offering versatility and practical usability in the early days of the sub-compact crossover segment. We actually still have a bespoke 2nd-generation model in yellow powered by a healthy 1.6-liter turbodiesel in our C! Fastfleet. Now on its 3rd-generation, I expected so much more than a reinterpretation of the same formula. I was hoping that with the longer wheelbase by 1.2-inches and longer body by 2.2-inches that the cabin would not only be even more spacious than its predecessor which we love but allow more design creativity consistent with the model mantra.

I know I sound very disappointed, and I am, but not “very”. The all-new Kia Soul exterior does look better without orphaning the past models especially in the GT-Line variant that has all the best equipment. Our test unit was the new X-Line variant in Gravity Grey that looks like it could handle some light off-roading with its unique textured and contrasting exterior body-cladding with roof-rails, variant-specific 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped with 235/45R18 94V Hankook Ventus S1 Noble2 tires, and satin silver exterior accents, but it is all for show as there is no AWD drivetrain, no additional reinforcements, and no change to both the suspension and ride height. Despite the same roof height and width as in the outgoing model, the new Soul does have .8-inches more ground clearance across the model range though.

The interior of the X-line model is very spartan but it does feel a touch more spacious than before and the seats are more comfortable than the already good seats on the old model. The build quality is excellent. The new smooth CVT transmission, which Kia calls “Intelligent Variable Transmission”, is good and it does make the modest 2.0-liter engine feel sprightlier than it is. It is actually quicker than the outgoing model that had a more powerful 164 bhp engine mated to a 6-speed automatic. But I wish that Kia applied fully independent rear suspension instead of the torsion-beam on the new platform. All the lighting was halogen too on the X-line. To get the cool full-LED equipment, buyers will have to buy the top-spec GT-line which comes with the 201 bhp 1.6-liter GDI turbo, bigger brakes (12.0-in vented disc/11.2-in disc up from the X-Line’s 11.0-in vented disc/10.3-in disc), 7-speed DCT transmission, center exhaust, 10.3-inch widescreen Harman/Kardon infotainment system instead of our test unit’s 7.0-inch color touchscreen that did not have navigation but does have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and uses only 6-speakers, HUD, LED ambient lighting and more.

The cabin has definitely been improved overall, it is much quieter, and you dee feel the sense of general maturity as you drive it. Though road noise suppression could still be further improved. Despite the torsion-beam rear suspension setup, similar once again to the outgoing model, the Soul X-Line did handle very well. I guess my frustration stems from the GT-Line being so significantly better appointed and equipped, and that Kia could have made the all-new Soul so much better. Having said all that, for the price, the Soul is still a great and characterful subcompact crossover that is very practical and attractive.

Specifications

Engine

Engine Inline-4
Type Atkinson-cycle
Displacement 1999 cc
Cylinder Head dohc, 16V
Fuel Injector Multi-Port Injection
Max Power (bhp @ rpm) 147 bhp @ 6200 rpm
Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm) 132 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm
Transmission CVT

Performance

Top Speed 192 km/h (120 mph) Governed
0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph 8.2 sec.

Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions

Fuel Milage (km/l) 27 mpg City / 33 mpg Highway

Ratings

Price as Tested (PHP) US$ 22,615.00
What's Great Larger and more mature, smooth despite retained rear torsion-beam setup, longer list of standard equipment.
What's Not So Halogen lights, better with 1.6-liter turbo engine, standard equipment could have been more generous.
C! Editors Rating 9/10
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