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Kia Soul vs. Hyundai Kona

1. Introduction

All in all, the Kia Soul and the Hyundai Kona share similarity in the fact that they are both vehicles made with the desire to bring forth "the car of the future". The two cars in question have been highly acclaimed for their modern style and economic value that makes them invaluable for long term use. Both vehicles have been designed for the sole purpose of creating a vehicle that can be used and cherished by all different walks of life. Young or old, rich or poor, the purpose of building a universal car has been successful for both Kia and Hyundai. This can be inferred through the tagline for Kia when they debuted the Kia Soul, Kia Motors America advertising head Michael Sprague in one press release called the Soul "a vehicle for nonconformists looking for the best the industry has to offer". To a similar extent, Hyundai has marketed the Kona as the perfect journey car that can be used whenever and wherever. It can be used by young adults looking for a memorable trip with friends or for a man with a family that desires the perfect day out. Although the two cars are marketed and stylized in different manners, each car serves the same purpose and has a global effect. Please visit our Comprehensive Guide to Kia Model Comparisons to learn more Kia Soul vs Hyundai Kona.

Kia Soul and Hyundai Kona are two vehicles that have made a tremendous impact in the automotive industry. They have been treated as the cars of the future, these vehicles bring forth modernism and style. Both the Kia Soul and the Hyundai Kona bring forth fresh and distinct ideas to the table that make them stand out from regular cars. After making and establishing a name for themselves, an informal debate between the two vehicle brands has sparked controversy between communities. The Kia Soul and the Hyundai Kona are two cars that have earned respect for their economical values but have differences in opinions revolving around their target consumer groups.

1.1 Overview of Kia Soul

The Kia Soul is a compact car designed at Kia's design center in California, evidenced by the fact that the vehicle is visually distinct from other models of Kia. It lacks an expected grille and has only a small air intake below the front bumper, and its rear is high and boxy with vertical tail lights. The Kia Soul is fitted with a 1.6L 4-cylinder engine with a choice of either a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission, and a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine. It rides on a 102.4-inch wheelbase, with an overall length of 163 inches, width of 70.9 inches, and height of 63.5 inches. It is classified as a small station wagon by the car classification division. Pricing starts at $16,000 for the base model and goes up to around $21,000 for the highest of three trims. The Kia Soul, with its boxy SUV shape, has ample head and leg room with high seating positions allowing easy entry and exit. When the rear seats are up, the Kia Soul has 19 cubic feet worth of cargo space which increases to 53 cubic feet with rear seats folded. Additionally, the Kia Soul was praised by the IIHS for being a 2017 Top Safety Pick because of its good ratings in all but one of the categories, and the availability of a front crash prevention system which raised the ratings of the headlights and the child seat anchors which raised the rating of the LATCH system ease of use. Finally, the Kia Soul is equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

1.2 Overview of Hyundai Kona

Since the Korean manufacturer had a successful release of the Hyundai Ioniq, a vehicle unique for its 3 types of efficient powertrains, and with this model aimed towards environmentally friendly fuel efficiency following the current trend of car manufacturers releasing eco-friendly vehicles (e.g. 2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell), Hyundai looks to offer another unique type of powertrain in a crossover vehicle. The Hyundai Kona will offer a regular 2.0L 4-cylinder Atkinson engine which is reported to give direct competition with other vehicles in this class type. Hyundai will also offer a 1.6L turbo engine version with a 7-speed dual clutch transmission. With this powertrain being offered for those who seek a more performance-based drive. The final version and unique powertrain offering is the 2019 Kona Electric. Hyundai claims that with a full charge, a generous range of about 250 miles can be expected. This can be one of the few crossover electric vehicles when it is released and can be a very compelling choice for someone who seeks a crossover-type vehicle but also wants to drive electric for its fuel efficiency, less maintenance, and being environmentally friendly. With the current situation of not having too many options for electric vehicles in the crossover class, the 2019 Kona Electric can become a segment leader and spark a trend for more crossovers to be offered as electric powertrains, often following current trends seen in the regular car market. This can be a very productive move for Hyundai in terms of sales and brand image, with the Kona Electric offering being very attractive for the right crowd. With these various powertrain offerings, the Hyundai Kona has the potential to appeal to various demographics with different automotive needs. This is a method that has been proven true from other manufacturers that sell the same car model but with different engine types, often attracting different customers. By selling different types of the same model, the cost to develop a single model can be spread out and, in turn, increase profitability. And for a newly introduced vehicle, this can serve as insurance and increase production lifespan if said model happens to have low initial sales.

2. Exterior Design

Equally targeting millennial and Gen Z personalities, the Kia Soul and Hyundai Kona present quite a different approach to reach consumers. In the Kia Soul, there are a series of upgrades, and one of the most attractive is the X-Line version. This version improves the Kia Soul's performance and interior features. The sporty sophistication comes from the side mirrors, door handles, and 18-inch alloy wheels with matte black accents. The new rugged-looking rear skid plate and silver front skid plate also add a more aggressive appearance. On the other hand, the Kona had a special treatment called the Kona Iron Man Edition under Marvel's license because this car was used in the Avengers movie. From the special edition, the Kona was repainted with Iron Man's signature repulsor weapon blue color and matte grey. There are Iron Man and Stark Industries lettering on a V-shaped bonnet (replacing the Hyundai emblem). Changing to the higher trim, the Kona got 18-inch alloy wheels with matching Iron Man color in its center caps. This technology-packed special edition will deliver excellent value to customers, particularly fans of Iron Man and Marvel movies. The GLI attribute from the Kona gives a clear distinction from the other variants because it uses a different color when you purchase one. With the same body design, using gloss all-terrain front and rear bumpers with silver skid plate and side-impact moldings give the car a proper distinction between the normal Kona and the GLI variant. And also, the GLI provides LED headlamps and tail lamps for better visibility on the road. Using the two-tone roof is also an exclusive feature of the GLI because it is only available in this car series. On the other hand, the X-Line variant for the Kia Soul has a special rugged-looking concept that was already mentioned before, with the 18-inch alloy wheels and the front/rear skid plate. But the most interesting part is the X-Line's unique body kit. This body kit has colorful painted accents and fender trims, special roof rail, and the robust-looking fender flares. This unique body kit gives another dimension to the X-Line exterior, so it could attract more millennial customers to buy this variant.

2.1 Kia Soul's distinctive styling

The author uses this section to differentiate the designing style of Kia Soul from every other car available in the automobile market. During the year 2009, Kia Soul was launched as a compact car with crossover SUV attributes. The car model features seating positions, body kit, and raised H-point. Kia Soul has a unique exterior look that is best described as a blend of an SUV and a compact wagon. According to the chief designer of Kia Motors, Kia Soul was designed with the youth population in mind and is meant to be a hip and trendy car. The exterior design is based on a "tough little bulldog" with the stance of a "dune buggy". Although the first generation Kia Soul was not accepted as a model car, it built its own place in the market, and that led to the launch of the second generation Kia Soul. With the second generation, Kia Soul stuck fingers into the utility market by offering two versions of the car for the two different uses. The standard model, which is intended for personal use, and the Kia Soul hamster mobile, which was revealed at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show. This version of the car was designed with the intention to be used as a service vehicle or a small cargo van, and most evidence of this can be seen in the commercial promoting the launch of the car. Despite all this, Kia Soul has still managed to maintain its original "boxy" look that the car is well known for. Learn More: Kia soul vs Hyundai kona

2.2 Hyundai Kona's modern and sporty look

The Kona has a more modern and aggressive styling compared to the Soul, likely due to its late entry to the segment and therefore it had to stand out in a crowded market. It features a split headlight setup similar to that on the Jeep Cherokee, with LED daytime running lights mounted above the main headlights. The oversized front end is filled in by a wide and thin grille that's pinched in slightly at the bottom to make it look like a more conventional opening rather than the disconnected cladding over the wheel arches. From the sides, the cladding around the wheel arches is quite prevalent, so much so that it looks like the car is lifted even when it isn't, likely a nod to its intended light off-road capability. The rear looks mostly car-like with the only real SUV design cue being the plastic tacked on to the lower bumper. The main design drawback is the cladding around the wheel arches appears to be held on by plastic rivets, which seems a bit cheap. Overall, the Kona's design is much more aggressive and looks like a more direct interpretation of the SUV formula than the Soul.

2.3 Comparison of size and proportions

The above are basic dimensions. The main way to tell if content is useful is if you are writing it. The text below is more direct comparisons of the practical space and ease of access.

In the cabin, there is a noticeably larger amount of headroom in the Kia Soul with the extra height of the car compared to the Kona, which is one of the main things that puts people towards small SUVs. The Kona does not have an issue with front legroom; there is loads of it. The issue is in the amount of available legroom for rear passengers, with less legroom available than in the Kia Soul. Boot space is where the Kona leads on from the Kia Soul. With modern small SUVs being a replacement for what were traditionally hatchbacks, people like the feel of having large boot space for a holiday trip or for DIY products. The Kona has a large boot space for its class with 361L compared to the Kia Soul with 354L. The Kia Soul makes up for this with 60:40 split folding rear seats for the Soul 2 and 40:40 split folding and a drop and fold flat function for the Kona SE, as well as a dual boot floor to create a hidden underfloor compartment for extra load space. So despite only having a small difference in actual boot capacity, the Kona has more options for increasing boot space.

From the outside, both cars don't look too different in height or width. The Kona is 15mm wider than the Kia, making it the wider of the two. Both cars are a similar length; however, the wheelbase of the Kona is slightly shorter than that of the Kia Soul. The Kia Soul is 20mm taller than the Kona, which increases headroom throughout the car. The Kona also has a longer rear overhang, giving the rear doors larger opening angles, which is good for getting children in and out of the vehicle and easier access to the boot. So externally, on basic dimensions, there is not too much of a difference between the two, just the Kia Soul being a bit taller and the Kona being a bit wider. The biggest space difference between the two cars comes inside the cabin and boots, where we spend most of our time with our cars. This is where the shape of the cars is crucial to providing good space for passengers and luggage. Both cars are compared in cabin and boot space with the Kia Soul 2 and the Kona SE.

3. Interior Features

Kia Soul's spacious and versatile cabin The user-friendly interior is what weighs the most in the Soul's. It can carry a pretty sizable amount of luggage with the rear seats up or folded down, outclassing many vehicles in the compact class and even some vehicles in the midsize class. The Soul's interior design is unique. The Soul has a lot of hard plastic surfaces, but it uses them strategically. Base models and Plus trims use a softer plastic that may look and feel a bit better, while the Exclaim (!) uses gloss-black and houndstooth-trimmed plastic panels. The Soul is also one of the easiest vehicles to get into and out of, with its wide-opening doors and tall roofline. The Soul also has comfortable and roomy seating for both the front and rear seat passengers. However, the top Exclaim (!) trim had an obtrusive sunroof housing that cramps front-seat headroom, and the rear-view camera intrudes into rear-seat headroom. The Soul also has very good driver visibility. All of the Soul's controls are intuitively laid out and easy to use. On Exclaim (!) models, the two separate gauges are replaced by a color TFT electronic display, which displays all kinds of vehicle information in addition to the normal gauge displays. The Soul is a pretty quiet vehicle at idle and around town but becomes a bit noisier under hard acceleration. A big concern with the Soul's interior is whether the hamsters will tire out that are sprinting behind the speedometer. Overall, as Edmund's online said, "the Soul's cabin is a nice place to be, it's well-rounded with a simple and elegant design."

3.1 Kia Soul's spacious and versatile cabin

In comparison, there is less room in the rear of the Kona with narrower doors and less head and legroom. The Kona has taken an over-design approach to its cabin on the upper-end models, which involves an all-black interior with color-coded accents. The Soul offers a modern and minimalist look with high-quality materials and plenty of soft surfaces. Higher specification Konas offer leather and color-matched contrast stitching, something which can also be found in the Soul but without having to pay the premium on top of the range model.

Both SUVs contain a spacious interior with lots of maneuverability. However, the form and functionality of the Kia Soul's cabin are not matched by the Kona. Being wider and longer, the Soul offers a better use of space, especially seen in the rear. The Soul provides class-leading passenger space and impressively wide and square rear that offers plenty of head and legroom. Given the Soul's labeling as a compact vehicle, it is surprising how spacious it is inside.

3.2 Hyundai Kona's comfortable and tech-savvy interior

The front area within the Hyundai Kona is thoroughly modern and driver-focused, with a smooth and uncluttered feel to the centre stack. The AVN's display is a floating design, standing tall rather than integrated into the console. All audio/visual and navigation system controls are positioned for ease of access. The driver grips the D-cut steering wheel, which has high-gloss black spokes and metallic accents. These same metallic accents also frame the bezel for the audio, visual, and navigation system. The seats are set at a height that facilitates ease of entry and exit, while also optimizing the driver's view of the road and feel for the vehicle. High-feature seats come with a range of power options and premium finishes. The passenger space feels open and spacious. The rear seating area delivers class-leading interior space with high headroom and good legroom, while the vision for front passengers is not impeded by the angle of the rear side windows and the narrowed glasshouse. Contrast stitching on the rear seats continues the premium ambiance throughout the interior. A two-stage reclining system gives rear passengers the choice of sitting up or leaning back to relax. The armrest is ergonomically designed for an optimal resting position, or when folded up, provides additional seating space. In the outboard position, the armrest features cup holders and a storage compartment.

3.3 Comparison of cargo space and seating capacity

The rear seat has a 60:40 split and can be reclined in two settings. With Easy Fold features, the rear seat can be arranged quite easily. When the seat is folded, the resulting cargo space is very relieved for a car of this class. The rear cargo area also has some storage space, so passengers can store small items to avoid damage due to being hit by shifting luggage. Kia Soul has a standard package with a cargo under tray and tray under luggage. Meanwhile, Kia Soul EV will provide more respite cargo space thanks to the absence of a fuel tank, taking place by available space to put a spare tire.

As for the rear passenger, there is also enough space to seat three adults. The type of seat that is designed higher is very helpful for passengers who have difficulty sitting in seats with a low position. If the car drives on uneven road contours, the Kia Soul will provide resilience for the rear passenger so as not to often hit the passenger's head to the glass area.

Kia Soul is a compact car that is suitable for trendsetters, with a body shape that is friendly, making it a perfect choice for urban riders. The interior is relatively wide, with features that are complete enough to carry up to five people. At the front, passengers will be presented with a relatively spacious space that is commonly held by a car with a larger class. This is supported by a high ceiling, so passengers will not feel cramped in the front. The driver's seat can also be arranged in such a way, from high to low. While the high seating position provides comfort and good visibility, the low setting can make the driver feel far more sporty.

3.4 Infotainment and connectivity options

In a narrow field, the Kona wins big in infotainment by providing more modern capabilities and a more coherent tiered structure that avoids seen decontenting at higher trim levels. In stark contrast, the Soul borders on embarrassment with its base-level audio-ignorance and lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which are farther up the selection and unavailable with the manual transmission. Family and commuter drivers who share their time between the city and suburb will definitely find more to like in the modern compact SUVs.

Kona beats Soul in this segment. On the top-line Ultimate model, the Kona offers an 8.0-inch touchscreen with a navigation system and traffic. The Soul's biggest display is the 7.0-inch unit on the Plus, and no version enables customers to connect their cellular phone to the touchscreen—something we assume to be a make-or-break function in this segment. Beyond that, the Kona boasts staple items including a 4G LTE information connection with Wi-Fi, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, and wireless telephone charging, none of which are available on the Soul.

4. Performance and Efficiency

The first car has 4 different models, and 2 complete engine choices. The 1.6T models offer the turbo GDI engine mated to a 7-speed dual clutch transmission for an effective performance drive, all the while maintaining the top level fuel efficiency that a customer has become so interested in. The Kona has a 2.0L engine in the base model, and a 1.6T engine in the two higher end models. All Wheel Drive and Front Wheel Drive is an available option for all Kona models. Now we see how much more difficult the comparison gets with the different trims. Unfortunately, the first Kia Soul trim has a 1.6L engine with a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission, leaving a direct comparison only possible with the top model. The latter models for Soul have a 2.0L GDI engine mated to an IVT transmission. Each model offering a different engine or drivetrain makes a direct HP comparison too drawn out and factual. Step one in comparing the vehicles is finding efficient ways to get all the performance data on paper.

The car guide for Kia Soul and Hyundai Kona compares the compact car to compact SUV as they are similarly priced. This article points me in the direction of the compact car segment for my first review, as your work serves the perfect entry-level buyer's guide. Moving on to our second review for car comparisons, the Kona was among the mentions for vehicles to consider for the beautifully written guide to buying a car. Your research is appreciated, and it led the way to the Kona buyer's guide which offers a sufficient amount of information for me to base the review on. This particular review sets a clear plan to compare the Kona to competitors and also previous vehicles which is something that I will attempt to do in the future for a best-in-class type comparison.

4.1 Kia Soul's range of engine options

Hyundai takes a similar but less diverse approach in comparison to Kia. First releasing their compact SUV to the market in March 2017, the Kona has a choice of two engines: the 2.0-liter MPI inline 4-cylinder engine followed by the 1.6L turbo GDI engine. These models are most likely to be similar to the engine layouts offered by the gen 2 Kia Soul and the EV. The 2.0-liter engine produces an expected 147hp and 132lb·ft torque. Also, deterringly due to no advancements towards electric motor technology, it is less environmentally friendly in comparison to the Gearless (Kona) 1-speed transmission of the EV and has been said to use up to 7.2L of fuel per 100km. The later 1.6L turbo GDI engine currently coming out in December as a 2018 model is most likely a direct response to the Kia Soul EV, offering a larger 175+hp output, 195lb·ft torque, and the advancement of it being designed to run on a high blend of ethanol fuels. This is a solid move from the environmentally unfriendly technology of hybrid engines, which will eventually phase out. It seems a little push towards a futuristic market as the results of tests on GDI engines and turbochargers in efficiency and longevity are yet to be seen. The results of Hyundai's engine variation are similar to the Kona undiverse, a long-term market yet to be seen.

Hyundai Kona

The Kia Soul offers three main engine variants throughout their model cycle. The 1.6-liter engine equipped to the 1st gen Kia Soul offers a reliable but sluggish ride. Due to its power and age consuming more fuel than the 2.0-liter engine in the 2nd gen Soul, very little can be said for it. Being underpowered in comparison, it is known as the poorer choice of engine. Steps towards a more modern image in the 2nd gen Kia Soul seem to be a smart move. Kia is pulling away from the apparently target older consumers market and attracting a younger audience with "a funky, stylish car". The 2.0-liter engine offers 142hp, taking a break from tradition in design and engineering. It represents Kia's steps to produce more power efficient and environmentally cleaner engines. But the highlight of Kia engines comes from the 2015-2016 Kia Soul EV, Kia's first electric car released to the US. A 27kWh lithium-ion polymer battery driving an 81-110KW motor (depending on the international market) gives it an impressive 204lb·ft torque and 210 hp. For an initial investment, it seems to be an excellent choice for economical friendly driving. From this, it is clear that Kia's current gen Soul offers a variety of engines targeted to a variety of consumer markets.

Main advantages and disadvantages are highlighted in respective sections.

Engine, Power and Drivetrain

4.2 Hyundai Kona's powertrain choices

Initially, the Kona will offer two gasoline powertrains. The first is a 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine making 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a six-speed automatic. The other choice is a 1.6-liter turbo GDI making 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. This higher-tech engine gets an efficient seven-speed EcoShift dual-clutch transmission. Later in 2019, Hyundai will add a fully electric version. This Kona EV uses a 150-kW (201 horsepower) and 291 pound-feet of torque electric motor with a 64-kWh battery. When the Kona EV goes on sale in the U.S., it will have an estimated range of 250 miles. This impressive juiced-up Kona can really stand out against the crowd. It will be the first fully electric subcompact crossover to hit the market, and it has a far more advanced dual-clutch transmission than any other subcompact CUV. This new transmission, paired with a powerful turbocharged engine or fully electric powertrain option, makes the Kona the clear winner in terms of powertrain options.

4.3 Fuel efficiency comparison

From the EPA ratings, the 2020 Kia Soul is less fuel efficient than the 2020 Hyundai Kona. The Soul fuel economy ratings range from 25-29 mpg in the city, 29-35 mpg on the highway, and 27-31 mpg combined. These numbers translate to different ratings depending on the model you are looking at. The 2.0L 4-door trim has ratings of 25 mpg, 35 mpg, and 39 mpg in the city, highway, and combined, respectively. The 2.0L X-Line has ratings of 27 mpg, 33 mpg, and 30 mpg in the city, highway, and combined, respectively. The 1.6L turbocharged GT-Line is the least fuel efficient with ratings of 27 mpg in the city, 32 mpg on the highway, and 29 mpg combined. The 2.0L engine is relatively fuel efficient, especially with a combined rating of 31 mpg. But the turbo engine has fuel economy ratings that are just average for its class. The higher priced turbo engine ends up being just as fuel efficient, if not less fuel efficient, than the base models for both vehicles. In this crucial era of fluctuating gasoline prices, that's an important factor. A pretty tempting looking 1.6D EX trim comes available in certain regions, boasting impressive fuel economy with a rating of 29 mpg in the city. That's because this can be compared to the Kona's fuel economy, offering the same mpg ratings. With 30 in the city, 40 on the highway, and 35 combined for the 1.6T engine and 27 in the city, 33 on the highway, and 30 combined for the 2.0. The Kona has decent fuel economy, but probably still outclassed here by its cousin the Soul. Step 2: Confirm location. Default location is Chicago. Are you located in Chicago? You also can read our article: Compare compact Kia models.