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Kia SUVs lineup keep gaining traction with consumers and critics alike. In a recent “2023 Editors’ Choice” list, Kia was the only automaker with two selections in the subcompact SUV segment. So let’s explore what makes the Kia Soul and Niro two of the best small SUVs for 2023.

Front view of 2023 Kia Niro Hybrid, cheapest new Kia hybrid car and SUV with the best gas mileage
2023 Kia Niro | Kia

2023 Subcompact SUV Editors’ Choice

Car and Driver recently released its 2023 ‘Editors’ Choice’ list. The list includes five subcompact SUVs. While subcompact SUVs such as Hyundai Kona, Mazda CX-30, and Volkswagen Taos made the list, Kia was the only automaker to capture two spots with the 2023 Soul and Niro.

The 2023 Kia Soul remains a great value

Car and Driver give the 2023 Kia Soul props for its eye-catching exterior, roomy interior, and affordability, calling it a “serious threat in the small-SUV class.”

With an MSRP starting at around $21,215, the 2023 Soul still offers the same uniqueness promised by its hip hamster introduction almost 15 years ago, but the absence of the 1.6-liter turbo engine leaves out some of the driving excitement.

Instead, all 2023 trims now have a 147-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder, continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), and front-wheel drive (FWD) that returns an EPA-estimated 30 mpg combined city and highway. 

For 2023, the Soul comes in four trim levels, LX, S, GT-Line, and EX. Although the top-trimmed Soul EX only increases the base price by $4,300 to $25,515, Car and Driver recommend the $24,815 GT-Line version with its upgraded shock absorbers, model-specific 18-inch wheel design, and sporty body-color accents.

All Kia Soul trims feature Kia’s Drive Wise technology with the following:

  • Forward Collision-Avoidance with Pedestrian Detection
  • Lane Keep Assist
  • Driver Attention Warning
  • Rear Occupant Alert

The following upgrades are optional at lower trims, but some higher trims include them as standard features: 

  • Lane Change Assist
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Blind Spot Collision Avoidance
  • High Beam Assist
  • Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist

While the Kia Soul’s boxy exterior design polarizes some potential owners, the vertical walls translate into a roomy exterior with more shoulder and cargo room than other subcompact SUVs. Inside the Soul LX cabin, you’ll find an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The 2023 Kia Niro has a lot to offer

The 2023 Kia Niro features a base 139-hp hybrid drivetrain featuring a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, an electric drive motor, a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, and FWD.

Car and Driver calls the Niro’s base powertrain “poky” and “buzzy” but notes that the optional plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrain’s “more powerful electric motor” increases horsepower to 180.

The Niro gets an EPA-estimated 49 mpg combined, and the PHEV version gets 46 mpg combined on gasoline, but adding its 26-mile electric driving range brings the total to 105 mpg equivalent (MPGe). 

The 2023 Niro comes in five hybrid and two PHEV trims. There’s also a fully electric model reviewed separately. 

Hybrid trims range from the LX with an MSRP of $27,915 up to the $36,215 SX Touring, while the EX PHEV starts at $35,165 and the range-topping SX PHEV costs $40,915. The EX Touring trim is Car and Driver’s pick for best value because it provides “a host of desirable creatures” not present on lower trims, such as:

  • A sunroof
  • Fog lamps
  • Rain-sensing windshield wipers
  • 18-inch wheels
  • 10.3-inch infotainment display

While the base Niro LX is more expensive than the top-trimmed Soul EX, it offers the Soul EX optional driver assist features as standard equipment. In addition, both models come with Kia’s five-year or 60,000-mile limited warranty and ten-year or 100,000-mile powertrain coverage. 


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