2020 Kia Soul debuts at LA Auto Show, is cooler than ever

Kia's third-generation Soul gets down with a sportier new look, better cabin tech and nary a hamster in sight.

Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
Kyle Hyatt
3 min read

The 2020 Kia Soul debuted Wednesday at the LA Auto Show, and it looks more or less like Kia's Soul always has, which is to say cute and boxy. This time around though, its gaze gets a little sterner, its lines get a bit sharper, its tech gets a bit better, and you'll be able to get it in six different trim levels. Well played, Kia.

The Soul will be available with either a base 2.0-liter naturally aspirated engine that produces a not-terribly-impressive 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque, or a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine which makes a much more robust 201 hp and 195 pound-feet. The base motor can be paired with a six-speed manual or a CVT, while the turbo motor is mated exclusively to a seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission. There's also a forthcoming electric version!

Watch this: 2020 Kia Soul debuts sharp new look, improved EV variant

The 2020 model year marks the debut of the third generation of Kia's quirky crossover, and in addition to its more sharply creased and ever-so-slightly-longer body, the Soul gets some new lighting changes. The front gets a narrow, squinty set of lights above and great big driving lights below, while the LED taillights wrap around the body.

Other exterior changes for the GT-line trim include a big, gaping front grille with two-tone trim and some fairly aggressively flared fenders. The new X-line trim gets some black plastic fender trim, grille-mounted fog lights, and brushed metal-looking accents.

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Kia's new GT-Line Soul didn't have to sell anything for its rock and roll turbo four-cylinder.


Inside things get a little goofy. Of course, because this is a Soul, the interior accent lighting reacts to the music you're playing, only now you can set it to one of a handful of "moods" which include -- and I'm not joking here -- "Hey! Yo!" and Party Time, along with Cafe and Romance. You also get available wireless charging and dual-zone automatic climate control though, so it's not all lighthearted frippery in Soul town.

"The Soul has been a massive success since its introduction to the US market, blowing its (now defunct) rivals out of the water and establishing itself as an automotive icon with its fun-loving character and eccentric style," said Orth Hedrick, executive director of car planning and telematics at Kia, in a statement. "Even with an entirely new generation of competitors now crowding the marketplace, we are confident the all-new Soul will once again prove to be a tough contender given its unparalleled style and impressive level of invigorating technology and customization options."


The new Soul X-Line trim looks plenty off-road capable, but do us all a favor and stay off the Rubicon.


This is a modern Kia, so just as you'd expect, there's a ton of standard safety equipment alongside some available advanced driver assistance systems as part of Kia's Drive Wise technology. These include lane keep assist, high beam assist, lane change assist, blind spot warning, adaptive cruise control and more.

On the infotainment front, Kia is offering an available 10.25-inch high-definition color touchscreen with split-screen functionality. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also along for the ride, as is multiconnection Bluetooth (meaning you can connect two Bluetooth devices at once). Also available is an 8-inch head-up display and a 640-watt 10 speaker Harmon Kardon audio system.

The new Soul should hit showrooms sometime in the first half of 2019. Pricing will be available closer to its on-sale date.

The 2020 Kia Soul and Soul EV make their world debut at the LA Auto Show

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