What does the Mazda CX-30 Have on the Kia Soul?

Currently, the 2021 Mazda CX-30 is ranking ahead of the 2021 Kia Soul. But we want to know why! Why is the new Mazda CX-30 considered slightly better than the Kia Soul, which has been around as a reliable subcompact SUV for years? 

The 2021 Mazda CX-30 vs. the 2021 Kia Soul 

According to U.S.News, the 2021 Mazda CX-30 is ranked above the 2021 Kia Soul on their list of the best compact SUVs for 2021. The CX-30 is currently in second place, while the Soul is ranked in third place. The Hyundai Kona is actually in first place, and we covered why here

A silver 2021 Mazda CX-30 driving on a highway
The 2021 Mazda CX-30 in action | Photo via Mazda

But how does U.S.News rank vehicles? They analyze credible reviews from established critics from major newspapers, automotive websites, and more to rank vehicles based on their performance, interior, safety ratings, and more. As new vehicles are released or if they receive updates, the list is subject to change. 

Why is the CX-30 ranked ahead of the Soul? 

U.S.News gave the Mazda CX-30 praise for having excellent handling, an upscale interior, comfortable ride, and wide-open cargo hold. So, basically, it’s fun to drive, it’s comfy, and it’s spacious. 

The base MSRP for the 2021 CX-30 is $21,900, and you can get started in the 2021 Soul for about $17,490. So, the CX-30 should include a lot more value, for being about $4,000 more. These prices are before destination fees, and dealership markups have been added. 

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With the Mazda CX-30, the base engine is a 2.5-liter option with 186 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. When the 2.5-liter inline-four turbocharged engine comes out, it will provide 250 hp, but with this engine, the starting price will be around $31,000. 

The Kia Soul has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder base engine with 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque. You can also upgrade to the 1.6-liter turbo for 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. So, the CX-30 does offer more power with its base model. 

Critics also love the interior of the Mazda CX-30. Despite being the cheapest vehicle Mazda has the offer, the interior is full of soft-touch, premium materials. But the Kia Soul is lacking with the use of hard plastics. Going up in trim options will help the Soul feel nicer. 

The CX-30 offers a pretty good acceleration, but the turbo engine will be a lot more fun. It has a smooth ride, a nimble turning radius, and more. It feels like a sporty SUV. The Soul also offers a smooth ride but can be firm over bumps. 

Where does the Soul beat the CX-30? 

The Kia Soul is actually more spacious than the Mazda CX-30. The CX-30 offers 20.2 cubic feet behind the rear seats and up to 45.2 cubic feet of cargo space total. The Soul has 24,2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats with up to 62.1 cubic feet total. 

A red 2021 Kia Soul driving on a highway road
The 2021 Kia Soul in action | Photo via Kia

Also, while the Mazda CX-30 is described as having cramped backseats for adults, the Kia Soul can seat five passengers comfortably. U.S.News mentions that adults will have no problems in the backseat. 

The Mazda CX-30 has a base model with more value and more standard features than the Kia Soul. But if you upgrade to the Kia Soul S trim for about $20,590, you get a long list of features. However, the Soul doesn’t offer AWD like the CX-30 does. So, deciding between the two comes down to wanting more space or sportier performance.