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Needed updates makes practical, thrifty, fun to drive small wagon an even better deal now

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The boxy design gives the 2020 Kia Soul a lot of interior room and the new updates make it better than ever.The Kia Soul has been a great vehicle for the last decade. The Soul combines the usefulness of a compact SUV with the affordable price point of an economy car, and it delivers a fun ownership experience. Now for 2020, some needed updates have boosted the Soul's performance and tech story without raising the price too much.

The 2020 Soul starts at a thrifty $17,490, which is a solid $6,000 less than Kia's other SUVs. Choosing the base trim Soul used to mean you got a less exciting engine, but now there's a peppy 2.0-liter engine in all Souls except the turbocharged GT-Line model. Most Soul models now come equipped with a continuously variable transmission, though you can save some money on the base trim if you select the 6-speed manual.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The 2020 Kia Soul can be equipped with just about every advanced automotive technology.

For 2020, even the base trim comes with an impressive list of features. Every 2020 Soul offers a 7-inch touchscreen display with Android and Apple phone integration, air conditioning and cruise control, plus a comfortable interior.

The X-Line package is an upgrade to the base Soul LX trim. The package adds blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alerts, lane change assistance, fog lights, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter. You also get an upgrade to 18-inch alloy wheels and a body kit that gives the Soul a more SUV-like appearance with fender flares and more aggressive bumpers around the fog lights. It's a good look, and the X-Line package offers enough substance to be worth the extra money.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The front seats in the 2020 Kia Soul are supportive and comfortable enough for long trips.

On the road, the new Soul is actually a little bit faster than last year's model, even if it has less horsepower on paper. The new variable transmission is more efficient than the older automatic. Apart from that, the on-road performance of the new Soul is about like it's been for the last five years: peppy, responsive, and easy to drive. You can fit five adults into the Soul, if you're all good friends. Four is more comfortable.

The 2020 Kia Soul makes a great choice for younger singles or urban couples, or for older empty nesters. Being limited to front-wheel-drive isn't a big handicap, because the Soul includes advanced traction and stability controls. If you have to go in the snow, just get a good set of winter tires.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - There is room enough for three adults in the back seat of the 2020 Kia Soul.

Finally, it's worth mentioning that the Soul comes with the best warranty in the business. 10 years or 100,000 miles on the powertrain, and 5 years or 60,000 miles on the rest of the vehicle. That gives you peace of mind that you won't run into huge repair bills before you're done paying for the vehicle.

The bottom line on the 2020 Kia Soul is that a great vehicle has been made even better. If you're considering any front-wheel-drive SUV, put the Kia Soul on your test drive list. You'll probably save a lot of money.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The 2020 Kia Soul offers a good amount 0f cargo space, and even more with the rear seats folded down.

2020 Kia Soul X-Line

Base price: $17,490

Price as tested: $22,615

Type: Compact hatchback

Engine: 2.0-liter four cylinder (147 hp, 132 lbs-ft)

Transmission: 6-speed manual or Continuously Variable Transmission

EPA estimated mileage: 27/33

Overall length: 165.2 inches

Curb weight: 2,844 pounds

Final assembly: Gwangju, Korea


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