Buddy Review: The 2020 Kia Soul GT-Line Makes Practicality Fun For Everyone

The new Soul is both masculine and feminine. Seriously.

In this buddy review with Roman and Tommy, the duo hop into the 2020 Kia Soul GT-Line and find themselves confused. Is this turbocharged Soul a hot hatch built to compete against the likes of the Volkswagen GTI? Or is it sporty compact crossover with more in common with something like Honda’s HR-V? Let’s dig through the stats and features and find out.

2020 Kia Soul GT-Line engine
(photo: Kia)

The Kia Soul GT-Line is a hot hatch!

Here are the reasons this Soul deserves a hot hatch designation:

  • 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine good for 201 hp. That’s pushing into VW GTI territory.
  • 7-speed dual clutch transmission
  • 18-inch wheels and Goodyear all-season tires. For a compact, budget-minded crossover, those are big rims. They return a stiffer, more performance-oriented ride.
  • Speaking of ride, this Soul GT does have a stiffer, sportier suspension.
  • Tight cockpit and well-bolstered seats designed for spirited driving.
  • It has a hatchback, and its newly designed front end looks like a stormtrooper.
2020 Kia Soul GT-Line
(photo: Kia)

No! It’s not a hot hatch — it’s a crossover.

And now, key reasons that the Soul is truly a compact crossover:

  • Spacious 2nd row seating with plenty of head and leg room for our staff of six footers.
  • Higher, more upright seating position and relatively higher ground clearance. This isn’t a vehicle you slink down into. For example, compare the GTI’s 5.1-inches of space to the Soul GT-Line’s 6.7 inches.
  • Squared off rear end doesn’t help aerodynamics, but does retain a ton of cargo space behind the second row.
  • A middling 8.61 second 0-60mph time even with a turbo, at altitude. Granted there were three adults in the Soul at the time.

As Roman points out in the video, Kia has done an admirable job making the Soul appeal to both men and women, those who want practicality and those who want style. It’s a very rare vehicle that pulls this off. Then add the turbo and Kia now can add ‘fun to drive’ to the Soul’s accomplishments.

On our Buy It, Lease It, or Forget It ranking Tommy votes to lease the Soul GT-Line. He calls it fun, practical, but faults the turbo engine and the 7-speed dual clutch transmission for not working as seamlessly together as they should. He also cites the sticker price on the fully-loaded model tested, $28,710 including destination. That’s right in line with a base model GTI, equipped with a sweet-shifting manual transmission. So he says, “Lease it.”

2020 KIa Soul GT

Roman says, “Buy it!” Yes, the transmission/engine connection could be smoother, but it works. The car is so well thought out in terms of styling, size, interior layout, efficiency (29 mpg combined) and functionality, that it will suit a host of drivers’ needs for years and years. Click on the video below and see for yourself if you agree.