Behind the Wheel

2020 Kia Soul GT-Line Turbo Review: Redesign (mostly) hits with tech, misses with driveability

The Kia Soul GT-Line Turbo is the top model offering from Kia.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Riddle me this. When is a concrete block not a concrete block? The answer is simple. When you equip it with a fun and funky interior, an underpowered and unresponsive engine, and a price tag as high as a well-equipped SUV. Then, it's called a 2020 Kia Soul GT-Line Turbo.

The Kia Soul was redesigned for the 2020 model year. It's shapelier and more modern than it was before. Those are all positives. The Soul still retains much of its identity that customers have come to know and expect. It breaks with conformity in a world of increasingly similar design attributes, something that Kia has also done with the 2020 Telluride with much success.

2020 Kia Soul GT-Line Turbo Kia has kept the Soul's signature boxy look as part of this redesign.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Still, there's no escaping its powertrain and handling.

In its highest GT-Line Turbo grade, the front-wheel drive Kia Soul is powered by a standard turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that is paired with a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. It delivers 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque … eventually.

It is with excitement-quenching trepidation that the Soul waits on the line for its turbo to kick in and engine to start pumping once the accelerator has been sent toward the floor. Doing the Soul's version of peeling out is frustrating.

2020 Kia Soul GT-Line Turbo The Soul's turbo engine is hesitant beast.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The exercise in patience gets on one's nerves rather quickly. Once the turbo kicks in and the engine starts going, the Soul is great, until about 45 mph when it completely loses its will to try to excite.

Let's face it though, the turbo wasn't great when it was in the last-gen model either. It's a shame they carried it over into the new model.

The handling the 2020 Soul is only marginally better for the 2020 model year versus the last-generation model. Piloting the car brings to mind words like "numb" and "disconnected". The experience behind the wheel is rather soulless.

Now, if driving isn't your thing, you'll probably be perfectly satisfied with the Soul as an around-town grocery getting. The Soul's upright seating is like sitting in a chair at the dinner table – lots of visibility but a little hard after more than an hour.

2020 Kia Soul GT-Line Turbo The car features a D-shaped steering wheel and red accents throughout the cabin.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The car's cargo space is good for a vehicle its size and the shelf in the rear increases the space's functionality but can be a bit of a pain to maneuver when you're loading in the goods from your latest Costco run.

Kia has equipped the Soul with the modern technology consumers are craving these days from Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to Bluetooth and tweeter speakers. Wireless device charging, a 10.25-inch HD color touch screen, 8-inch head-up display, and 640-watt Harman Kardon audio system are available. The car's infotainment system is responsive and easy to navigate. The large 10.25-inch screen is a good size to display multiple functions at the same time without feeling crowded or too big.

2020 Kia Soul GT-Line Turbo The Soul GT-Line Turbo's interior features red stitching and premium accents.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The Soul GT-Line Turbo comes with mood lighting. Selectable moods include Hey!Yo!, Party Time, Traveling, Romance, Midnight City, and Café. The moods pair with the music being played in the car, pulsing LED lights throughout the cabin in rhythm. No one will miss this feature if it is suddenly discontinued.

2020 Kia Soul GT-Line Turbo Specialized LED lighting flashes in time with the rhythm of the sound system.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Kia's safety and driver assistance technology continues to be one of the best in the business. It's effective without being intrusive. The Soul is available with a good list of the tech most buyers are seeking including lane keeping assist, rear cross traffic collision warning, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and high beam assist.

Where the Soul GT-Line Turbo really loses the buyer is on $27,490 price tag. It's hard to climb into it and think that you're getting a lot of bang for your buck. The compact car and SUV market has reached such a fever pitch that there's just better options out there worth considering, even within the Kia family.

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Safety and technology awards

Four Hyundai cars earn top marks for teen drivers

Best SUV for Teens $35 to $40k: 2021 Santa Fe Hybrid

Hyundai
Each year, U.S. News & World Report ranks vehicles in several categories. One relates to teen drivers and how well a vehicle performs in areas such as safety and available technology features. The 2021 rankings for Best New Cars for Teens were just released and one automaker hit it big. Four vehicles from Hyundai's 2021 lineup took top spots in various categories. They include:
  • Best Car for Teens $20k to $25k: 2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid
  • Best SUV for Teens $20k to $25k: 2021 Hyundai Kona
  • Best Car for Teens $25k to $30k: 2021 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid
  • Best SUV for Teens $35k to $40k: 2021 Santa Fe Hybrid


2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Best Car for Teens $20k to $25k: 2021 Hyundai Elantra HybridHyundai


All vehicles that earned awards in the 2021 survey are available with safety features that include forward collision warnings, forward automatic emergency braking, lane departure warnings, and lane keep assist. The vehicles also carry safety features and controls that allow parents to monitor their teen's behavior. Through the available smartphone app, parents can receive alerts when the vehicle goes over a set speed or if the teen leaves a set geographic area. The idea is that the functionality allows parents to coach their young drivers on their driving habits.


2021 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Best Car for Teens $25k to $30k 2021 Hyundai Ioniq HybridHyundai


To earn a spot on the U.S. News Best Cars for Teens rankings, a vehicle has to score well in several categories that include crash test scores and available advanced driver assistance features. The vehicle must also have scored well in the publication's rankings for its segment and price level.


2021 Hyundai Kona Best SUV for Teens $20k to $25k: 2021 Hyundai KonaHyundai

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The G70 got a makeover for 2022.

Genesis

The Genesis G70 got a refresh for 2022, which brought an updated interior with new tech, along with a massaged front- and rear-end. I'm spending a week testing the renewed sports sedan, and have some initial thoughts after two days with the new model. I drove the 2021 G70 and felt that it was a cohesive package with few major downfalls. The 2022 model's improvements have made me like it even more. A full review will be out next week, but in the meantime, here are three things to know about the 2022 Genesis G70.

It's Plush


2022 Genesis G70 The G70's interior is top-shelf and gorgeous to look at.Genesis


Close your eyes and step into a G70 and you'll be hard pressed to believe you're sitting in anything other than a European luxury sedan. The cabin is gorgeous, and features high-end materials, great visibility, and intuitive technology. The front seats are sporty but supportive and comfortable, and high trim levels features super diamond stitched leathers and very few low-rent materials inside.

It's Quick

I'm testing the Sport Prestige 3.3T model, which his powered by a – you guessed it – twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 engine. With 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque on tap, the car will boogie. Its 0-60 mph time lands a at a modest 4.7 seconds, but Genesis did a good job of building in enough drama to make things interesting. The car's sonorous exhaust, rush of power off the line, and responsive transmission all work together to create a special experience. Even G70s equipped with the lesser turbocharged 2.0-liter engine still feel quick, thanks to 252 horsepower.

It's Gorgeous


2022 Genesis G70 The G70 isn't a large car, but offers enough room for a family of four to ride in comfort.Genesis


I tested a Genesis GV80 a few months ago, and found that it was the first car I'd driven around town that caused people to stop and take photos. Now, with the G70, I have my second. Despite a few awkward lines, created when Genesis added the split headlight and taillight look to the car, it's otherwise one of the sleekest and most eye-catching sedans around. Deeply sculpted sides and the large-but-not-too-large diamond grille also add to the look.

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