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Kia Soul vs Kia Niro

Kia Soul vs Kia Niro

Kia Soul vs Kia Niro

When a manufacturer is quite obviously very good at what it does, you can't blame it for offering a wide variety of vehicles that buyers might compare against each other. Kia is a manufacturer that definitely seems to have crossovers figured out, especially those of the compact variety. It's no wonder then that the South Korean automaker has added the all-new, hybrid-only Niro to its already impressive lineup. How does the Niro compare to one of Kia's most popular, models--the Soul? Take a look at our comparison guide.

Styling

The 2017 Kia Soul is a crossover that it's fair to say is less than conventional in the way it looks. In fact, the word most often used to describe the Soul is "funky." Now that the Soul has mellowed its styling and matured with some age, that funky term may not apply as well but the Soul is still very unique. Boxy, rectangular, and youthful, the Soul has...well...soul.

The Niro is a lot more conventional, although it does look as though it was inspired by the fun and funky Soul. The Niro is halfway between a genuine SUV and a tall wagon, which means it's a model that could appeal to an even wider audience than the Soul.

Powertrains

The Soul has three engine options, all four-cylinder units of varying power ratings. The base 1.6 is a capable but fairly ordinary performer, but the most powerful unit is the 201 horsepower 1.6-liter turbo-four that's also found in the Elantra Sport. This engine really does add a new dimension of fun and performance to the Soul, and is well worth the extra money.

As already mentioned, the 2017 Kia Niro is only available as a hybrid, which makes it the only hybrid-only compact crossover in the market. The system is based on a 104-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine mated to a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. Sitting in between those two components is a 32-kilowatt (43 horsepower) electric motor powered by a 1.6-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery.

Performance and Fuel Economy

The Soul is composed to drive, although the ride can be a little harsh for some tastes. Like most crossovers and SUVs, the tall stance means it doesn't exactly handle like a sports car in bends and corners. The best EPA-estimated fuel-economy ratings offered by the Soul are 26 mpg in the city, 31 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg combined.

The Niro comes in two distinct drive models, which are Eco and Sport. You're probably not surprised that the Sport mode is more fun to drive and better performing, while the Eco is more efficient with a little less punch. What might surprise you is that the difference between the two is bigger than you might expect. Fuel-economy ratings are predictably excellent at a best of 52 mpg in the city, 49 mpg on the highway and 50 mpg combined for the FE model.

Interior Space

If you're comparing the Niro and the Soul in terms of practical use of space, they're remarkably similar. You'll find slightly more passenger volume overall in the Soul at 101 cu.-ft. compared to the Niro at 97.1 cu.-ft., but that difference is diluted throughout the cabin so you won't notice anything particularly bigger in the Soul.