kia's boxy little soul hatchback got a classy redesign for 2020, and we now know it also gets a nice bump in gas mileage. not that the 2019 is a gas hog, but the new 2.0-liter used engine and transmission that powers most soul models has boosted the mpg scores, and even the carryover turbo in the newly named gt-line 1.6 top trim level shows a small bump up.
the soul with the new base 147-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder used engine and continuously variable automatic transmission is epa-rated 29/35/31 mpg city/highway/combined driving in eco dynamics mode and 27/33/30 mpg otherwise. the six-speed manual transmission (offered only on the base lx) drops it to 25/31/27 mpg. the combined mileage scores with the automatic are up 2-3 mpg from the 2019's 1.6-liter base used engine and 3-4 mpg over the 2019's midrange 2.0-liter that is dropped for 2020. compare the 2020 and 2019 epa ratings here. the top trim level with the 201-hp, turbocharged 1.6-liter and seven-speed dual clutch automatic delivers 27/32/29 mpg for 2020, up 1 mpg across the board. compare with 2019 here.
meanwhile, the soul also is adding to the ranks of high-mileage electric cars from mainstream brands. the all-electric 2020 soul electric has posted an epa efficiency score of 114 mpg-equivalent and a range of 243 miles; that beats the 239-mile range for the more suv-ish kia niro ev, but it falls short of 258 miles and the 120 mpg-e rating for the corporate cousin hyundai kona ev that shares the powertrain. (availability of all three is being limited to california and select other markets.) among other mainstream-brand evs, the soul edges past the chevrolet bolt ev's 238 miles of range. compare them all here. nissan's leaf will play close to this group with its coming leaf plus model that the automaker estimates will be rated at 226 miles of range.
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the soul's new powertrain first appeared in the 2019 kia forte sedan. i've not yet driven it in the soul, but i found it to be very competent in the forte compact — though a little short of pep off the line. then again, i'd want the 1.6 turbo in either the soul or the coming 2020 forte's new gt model.
the powertrain combines a revised atkinson-cycle four-cylinder with a new, kia-designed continuously variable automatic transmission. this uses a chain-type cvt drive belt for a more conventional-transmission driving feel while providing artificial shift points under harder acceleration. in the forte, kia also has wrapped it in a sound cover to cut the "drone" noise to which cvts are prone.
against its rival urban hatchbacks, the soul with the new 2.0-liter is rated 1-2 mpg ahead of the toyota c-hr, but 2-3 mpg behind the less powerful nissan kicks. both of those competitors offer just one powertrain. compare them here.
the 2020 soul goes on sale this spring with pricing still to be announced.
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