Back in 2009, Kia made a splash in the compact car segment when they introduced the Kia Soul to the world. The success that’s followed is proof that sometimes, it’s hip to be square.

Its hard lines, tall stance, and square shape give it stand-out looks among the competition. In fact, much of this car’s success has been because it doesn’t really have any competition. Competing with small cars and crossovers, it’s segment busting, and clearly something consumers are asking for. The strange question is: why aren’t other automakers building direct competitors to the Soul?

Kia released a second generation of the Soul for the 2014 model year. The current third generation is a new take on the old square shape and began production in 2019 for the 2020 model year.

The 2020 Kia Soul is also available as a fully electric vehicle.

This five-door compact is technically a hatchback, with room for five passengers. There are two four-cylinder engines available, alongside the electric option. Canadian buyers will only see the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine while American buyers will also have an optional turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder.

Manual fans can rejoice because a 6-speed manual is still available on the 2020 Kia Soul. A continuously variable transmission, or CTV, and a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic are optional. There is lots of interior space to be had thanks to the unique shape of the Kia Soul. While the 2020 Kia Soul and its sister car the Hyundai Kona come from Korea, Kia designs and engineers them at their California design center.

Kia Soul fuel economy

Thanks to two different engine options and three available transmissions, the 2020 Kia Soul can be an economical option. The best gas fuel economy comes from the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and CVT combination, with an estimated 29 mpg city and 35 mpg highway, or 31 mpg combined.

2020 Kia Soul EV has a new battery design which gives it a slight range boost over previous years. On a full charge, the 2020 Kia Soul EV has an estimated range of 243 miles.

Kia Soul safety

A renewed focus on safety structure has paid off for the 2020 Kia Soul, earning a 2019 IIHS Top Safety Pick +. With the premium LED headlights and optional driver aids, the Kia Soul gets IIHS top marks in every category. The 2020 Kia Soul packs a lot of safety technology into a small package.

Optional safety technology includes forward collision warning with pre-collision braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, and driver attention warning.

Read More Kia Soul EV Review

Kia Soul features

Entry-level features on the starter LX trim include a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and a rearview camera.

Optional feature highlights include adaptive cruise control, premium cloth seats, power-adjustable front seats, heated front seats, navigation, wireless phone charging, LED headlights, a two-tone roof, and an 8-inch driver heads-up display.

Kia Soul pricing

Soul GT-Line

Starting price for a 2020 Kia Soul LX is $17,490 before a $995 delivery fee. Adding the CVT to the base-model Kia Soul bumps the price to $18,990. Mid-level S trim starts at &20,290, and X-Line trim’s pricing starts at $21,490. Top-level EX trim has a starting price of $22,960. The sport-themed GT-Line trim is $20,290 for the 2.0-liter engine and $27,490 for the turbocharged 1.6-liter engine.

The 2020 Kia Soul EV starts at $33,950 before $7,500 in US government incentives.

Kia Soul competition

As a hatchback, there is some high competition on the market for the 2020 Kia Soul. Competing vehicles are the hatchback versions of the Honda Civic, Volkswagen Golf, Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, Subaru Impreza, and Mazda 3. The Kia Soul is a sister vehicle to the Hyundai Kona, which is technically a competitor.

As an EV, the 2020 Kia Soul competes with the Tesla Model 3, Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Bolt, and Hyundai Kona EV.

Both looks and technology set the Kia Soul apart, as does the impressive tech package at lower-end trims. With a Top Safety Pick + from the IIHS, the 2020 Kia Soul sets itself apart even more. The 2020 Kia Soul is one of the few cars on the market that still offers a manual transmission.

Read More Hyundai Kona Review

Detailed Specs

Engine / 2.0-liter four-cylinder / turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder
Horsepower / 147 / 201
Torque / 132 lb-ft / 195 lb-ft
Transmission / 6-speed manual / CVT / 7-speed DCT
Drivetrain / Front-wheel-drive
Seating capacity / Five
Cargo capacity / 24.3 cubic feet / 62.1 cubic feet maximum

Our Final Verdict

While the stand-out looks may seem like a gimmick on the surface, the 2020 Kia Soul offers a lot of smart technologies, safety, and good driving performance. A selection of striking colors, peppy engines, and an elusive 6-speed manual transmission should make the 2020 Kia Soul stand out for more than looks.