There are a lot of choices for drivers who need a new subcompact SUV. Because of this, it’s easy for a lot of promising models to get overlooked, despite positive reviews. The Kia Soul won’t win any beauty contests anytime soon, but Edmunds still ranks it as one of the best options. The Honda HR-V is another contender with great reviews and promising specs, but not a lot of actual fans.
Perhaps this is part of the reason why Kelley Blue Book highlighted both of these SUVs in a comparison test. Is one of them a clear winner over the other?
The Kia Soul
Arguably the biggest draw of the Kia Soul is its affordable price tag, starting at around $17,500. Standard smartphone integration and Bluetooth are also included in this price, but the base model only includes two advanced safety features. The good news is that more safety features are available for less than $3,000 extra.
The Kia Soul also offers drivers a few different powertrain options. The base motor is a 2.0-liter 147-hp four-cylinder that is paired with a six-speed manual transmission. Drivers can also substitute a CVT in place of the manual.
For those who need more power, the available turbo 201-hp four-cylinder is the better option. This engine is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. However, Edmunds reports that this transmission feels unrefined compared to the other two.
Unfortunately, the Kia Soul has some annoying problems. It doesn’t offer four-wheel drive for any of its models. The X-Line has off-road styling but doesn’t feature any particularly useful adventuring equipment.
Pretty much every critic agrees that the base engine produces underwhelming power for most drivers. Additionally, even with the turbo engine, there is still a lot of exterior noise inside the cabin. Edmunds also discovered that the Soul’s real-world fuel economy was slightly lower than EPA estimates.
The Honda HR-V
The HR-V has a few features that you won’t find on every subcompact SUV, like optional all-wheel drive. KBB noted that there’s more room for both passengers and cargo in the Honda HR-V compared to the Kia Soul. The HR-V also includes Honda’s Magic Seat, which allows drivers to fold the back seats upwards as well as down flat.
The Honda HR-V is also slightly more efficient than the Kia Soul. It makes 30 mpg combined city/highway while the Soul only averages 27 mpg. Despite its roomy interior, the vehicle itself is relatively small, making it easy to fit into tight parking spaces.
The Honda HR-V only comes with one engine choice, a four-cylinder capable of 141 hp. Unfortunately, it can’t provide much power aside from light city cruising. It can accelerate in a pinch for passing, but expect a lot of droning from both the engine and CVT.
Compared to the Kia Soul, the HR-V’s starting price of nearly $21,000 is a bit of a splurge. Additionally, aside from the backup camera, the Honda HR-V lacks any standard safety features. If you want a model with the Honda Sensing safety suite, expect to pay nearly $24,000.
Which SUV is better?
If you want the model with the most features for the price, the Kia Soul is the clear winner. However, as KBB points out, the Honda HR-V has a much higher resale value. You may also end up saving more money on fuel if you choose the Honda HR-V.
While both cars have engines suitable for daily driving tasks, their powertrains aren’t very lively. Plenty of subcompacts have better engines, like the Mazda CX-30. While not the best options, the Kia Soul and Honda HR-V are both good cars, especially for thriftier shoppers.