(I Got A) Heart Full of Soul - 2020 Kia Soul X-Line

Old friends. No matter how long it's been since you've seen them, just feel right the next time you're together. That's the Kia Soul, an old friend.

I fondly remember the first Soul and the ads with the hamsters - cute and a little funky. That was the Soul.

Fast forward a decade (has it been that long?). The Soul has matured, it's not as funky, maybe a bit more sophisticated but just as endearing.

It's kind of ironic that the Soul, designed either for young people or at least those young at heart, appeals to people of my generation (baby-boomers). There's a reason and it has nothing to do with it being "hip" or cute. From my perspective it is because it's easy to get in and out of, visibility from the driver's seat is excellent, and it is spacious yet small and easy to park.

The overall shape and design of the Soul hasn't changed. It is still a two-box design; a short box up front for the engine and transmission and a larger, taller box for passengers and cargo.

I am not totally taken with the front-end redesign or the almost eyebrow-esque lights above the trapezoidal headlamps. But the rest is just fine. 

I have to say that after driving so many vehicles with push-button start, doors that unlock when you get near with the key, voice-control this and that, the Soul took some getting used to. It was almost downright retro. You unlock the door with a push-button on the fob but you need to insert the key (it flips out of the fob) into the ignition switch and twist it to start the Soul.

There are six - count them six - Soul versions; LX, S, X-Line, EX, GT-Line 2.0L, and GT-Line 1.6T. The test Soul was a X-Line. Kia says of the X-Line, "The off-road inspired Soul X-Line features beefed up, textured and contrasting exterior body cladding, unique 18-inch alloy wheels, and satin silver exterior accents." If you want more content you have to go up a model or two.

Every Soul except the GT-Line 1.6T is equipped with a 147-hp, 132-lb.ft., 2.0-liter, four cylinder. The GT-Line has a 201-hp 1.6-liter engine. Only the base "LX" version is available with a manual transmission. The others, with the exception of the GT-Line 1.6T, are equipped with what Kia calls an Intelligent Variable Transmission which in essence is a CVT but it feels mostly like a multi-gear automatic.

I like station wagons. The Kia Soul is like a station wagon with extra headroom. It's a five person vehicle when you need it and also large cargo carrier when you need it. The seats are high off the floor like a kitchen chair. There is up to 62.1 cubic feet of stowage with the rear seat folded. 

A couple of things/options I have gotten used to that weren't on the X-Line were adaptive cruise control and SiriusXM radio. Both are available on other Soul models.

The steering wheel controls are clearly marked and easy to access. 

No SiriusXM so my iPhone played the music. Notice the easy to use climate controls.

A gearshift lever! The little button (DRIVE MODE) changes the transmission from normal (kind of soft) to Sport. Or you can push the shift lever to the left and shit yourself.
I mostly drove the Soul around town but I did have to make a quick trip into Pleasanton. On 205/580, with the cruise set at 70 mph (still one of the slower vehicles on the highway) the Soul showed 34.7-mpg. It's rated at 33-mpg highway and 27-mpg city. 

The test Soul X-Line lists for a reasonable $21,620 (including $130 for carpeted floor mats. Kia's warranty is excellent - 10 year/100,00 mile powertrain, 5 year/60,000 basic coverage with roadside assistance. A LX with manual transmission can be had for $17,490, and the GT-line 1.6T tops out at $27,490. Somewhere between those two prices is a Kia Soul for you.


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