My love affair with the Kia Soul extends back to 2015, with my first test drive of an electric vehicle version, and that passion continued with a hybrid and gasoline-powered Souls in the years that followed.
True to form, I was immediately taken by the modern look of my Snow White Pearl 2020 X-Line tester. Kia now basically has three different types of Souls: the, for lack of a better term, traditional (in the base LX, S and EX trims), the sportier GT and the SUV crossover-like X-Line.
The thing I can’t get over, whichever kind of Soul I have found myself behind the wheel of, is what a smooth rider it is and how roomy it feels inside for the driver considering what a little box it (literally) appears to be on the outside. Like me, you may also find your mind drifting to a feeling of … meh.
OK, truth be told, my latest Kia Soul engagement was right after some sportier and/or muscular testers. Despite the appearance upgrades and feeling I was in a bigger SUV, the 2.0-liter, fuel-injected four cylinder could not wipe from my mind the turbo-blasted behemoths that preceded it. Fair, no, but that’s the way it was–and the way it was got reinforced each time I slammed down the accelerator expecting to be lifted into orbit.
However, here is something about the X-Line that should get as much traction as the tires wrapped around the ripping 18-inch alloy wheels: It’s a great starter vehicle for someone who values space to cart gear around, stylish interior and exterior touches as well as value. (Yes, I wrote it: One who values value … roll with me here.)
Five adults can ride in the X-Line with the seats up, and when the 60/40 split rear seats are folded down, this Soul becomes a mini moving van, with the back hatch creating a generous opening for sliding stuff in and out. Trust me, I made the Goodwill run with it.
When it comes to appearance, roof trim, front fog lights, exterior body cladding, rear privacy glass, leather-wrapped shift knob/steering wheel and those sweet 18-inch alloys are included at no extra cost on the X-Line.
In fact, the only additions to the base price (that I’ll get to below) on my test vehicle were $130 carpeted floor mats, $345 for that Snow White Pearl paint job and $995 for inland freight and handling. (Which brings up the question: Does the inland freight and handler get the entire $995?)
Power everything, the remote keyless system and a 7-inch touchscreen with rear-camera view are all standard, as are an array of safety features.
That’s important to anyone sticking a kid into a starter car. They’ll appreciate the array of airbags throughout the cabin, traction and stability control systems and blind-spot and rear cross-traffic collision warnings. (Government 5-Star Safety Ratings were not yet available on this vehicle.)
The value is apparent when it comes to fuel economy. The government rates the 2020 X-Line at 30 miles to the gallon overall (33 mpg highway, 27 mpg city) and a savings of $750 in fuel costs over five years compared to the average 2020 vehicle.
Speaking of government ratings, the Soul got a respectable seven out of 10 (10 being best) for both the smog and fuel economy/greenhouse gas ratings.
As you feast your eyes above on my favorite style element–the concave, diamond-chrome thingy around the front interior door handles that I imagine bounces sick sounds from the nearby speaker throughout the cabin–let me be the first to inform you that Kia offers a 10-year/100,000-mile (whichever comes first) warranty on the powertrain and 5 years/60,000 miles for the basic warranty as well as roadside assistance.
When the i’s were the crossed, the t’s were dotted and everything was carried over, my 2020 Soul X-Line tester came in with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $22,960.
To me, it’s a lot of car for the money, which is nothing to meh about.
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.