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Comparison: 2020 Kia Soul vs 2020 Subaru Crosstrek

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Here we have two vehicles that are popular with Canadian motorists. These two wagons in all but name show the way to a different conception of the SUV. Their styling is unique each in their own way, and refreshingly off the beaten path.

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2020 Kia Soul

2020 Kia Soul
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2020 Kia Soul

The model that was quickly given the “toaster on wheels” designation when it first debuted on the market is getting a new look for 2020. To be sure, the styling is as recognizable as ever, but Kia has worked on the details and rejuvenated the Soul’s styling for the new year.

Beyond that updated styling, the 2020 Soul is equipped with a 2.0L engine making 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque and which is mated in all trims to a new continuously variable transmission. Canada has decided to abandon the 1.6L turbo engine (that configuration is still available in the U.S.) and in the process sadly cut driving pleasure in half.

Big model lineup
Even with only one engine in the offering, there’s no lack of choice here. You can pick between seven versions: LX, EX, EX+, EX Premium, GT-Line Premium, EX Limited and GT-Line Limited.

Our Review of the 2020 Kia Soul

2020 Kia Soul, front
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2020 Kia Soul, front

While the Soul's styling is groovy and unique, the base model lacks charisma, even though you'll find on it heated outside mirrors, heated front seats, climate control, 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, 6-speaker audio system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

From the EX version on you get a more-generous smattering of equipment, with LED daytime running lights, heated steering wheel, leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift lever, wireless phone charging system, cruise control, blind spot sensor, lane departure warning system, front collision avoidance system, rear cross-traffic assist system, heated windshield and heated washer-fluid spouts.

The best-equipped models offer a 10.25-inch infotainment screen with navigation, sonic feedback speakers, satellite radio, passive remote keyless entry, UVO-connected automotive services and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with leather seats.

2020 Kia Soul, interior
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2020 Kia Soul, interior

Less fun behind the wheel
As you can imagine, the defunct turbo model was by far the most interesting Soul to drive. The 2.0L engine gets the job done, and in city driving it does a good job because of the Soul's contained weight of just under 1,400 kg, but you miss the extra power of the little turbo engine.

2020 Subaru Crosstrek

2020 Subaru Crosstrek
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2020 Subaru Crosstrek

Subaru introduced its little wagon-slash-crossover model in 2013 under the name XV Crosstrek, renaming it Crosstrek in 2016. Subaru was part of the first wave of small SUVs to hit the market in early 2010. The most significant change in 2020 is the expanded availability of Subaru's EyeSight active safety suite, now included in all models equipped with automatic transmission, and the arrival of the first plug-in hybrid model.

The trim levels are Convenience, Touring, Sport and Limited. All use a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine that produces 152 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque and features all-wheel drive. The first three versions come with a 6-speed manual transmission that can switched out for a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). That CVT is standard on Limited models.

The Crosstrek Convenience comes standard with a 6.5-inch screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 4-speaker audio system, automatic climate control, cruise control, power windows, remote keyless entry, manual driver's seat and power heated mirrors.

2020 Subaru Crosstrek, front
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2020 Subaru Crosstrek, front

The Touring version brings LED fog lights, automatic headlights, front wiper defroster, satellite radio, six-speaker stereo, Starlink connected services, cargo cover, push-button start and leather-wrapped shift lever and steering wheel.

Sport models add an 8.0-inch screen, orange interior stitching, aluminum pedals, 6-way power driver's seat and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.

The Limited includes forward collision warning and detection, automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist with the EyeSight suite.

2020 Subaru Crosstrek, interior
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2020 Subaru Crosstrek, interior

At the wheel
The Crosstrek rides on the Subaru Global Platform (SGP) inaugurated with the Impreza. The extended wheelbase makes for a solid and comfortable ride. The model’s agility is enhanced by responsive steering, not surprising since it was borrowed from the BRZ. The Crosstrek is without question one of the vehicles best suited to our year-round climate.

A word of advice, however: don't spend the extra money required for a plug-In hybrid version; it offers too little range and disappointing average fuel consumption. Best stick with the regular version, by far a better choice.

2020 Kia Soul / 2020 Subaru Crosstrek, front
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2020 Kia Soul / 2020 Subaru Crosstrek, front

Advantage Kia Soul

The Soul offers excellent fuel economy and value in terms of equipment for the cost that's hard to beat. The warranty is also better than Subaru’s.

Advantage Subaru Crosstrek

The standard all-wheel drive configuration is a huge advantage for Canadian consumers. Driving in general is also more fun in the Crosstrek.

Similarities

Both vehicles have an attitude and an approach that are off the beaten path in this often grey segment.

Verdict

For its undeniable advantage on the road, our choice is Subaru's Crosstrek, which offers better handling, a safer grip and in which you can even dare go for a ride on less maintained roads when needed/desired. The Soul is not a bad choice, but the Crosstrek is a better one.

2020 Kia Soul / 2020 Subaru Crosstrek, profile
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2020 Kia Soul / 2020 Subaru Crosstrek, profile

2020 Kia Soul

We like

Unique styling
Good interior design
UVO system

We like less

No more turbo engine
No AWD model
Unattractive base model

2020 Subaru Crosstrek

We like

All-wheel drive
Driving pleasure
Attractive styling
 
We like less

Unpleasant manual gearbox
Deficient soundproofing
Lack of punch on hilly roads

2020 Kia Soul / 2020 Subaru Crosstrek , three-quarters rear
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2020 Kia Soul / 2020 Subaru Crosstrek , three-quarters rear

Specifications

... 2020 Kia Soul2020 Subaru Crosstrek
 TransmissionCVT6-sp manual / CVT
 DrivetrainFWDAWD
  2.0L2.0L (CVT)
 Fuel consumption (city)8.6L/100 km10.5L/100 km
 Fuel consumption (highway)7,1 l / 100 km8.1L/100 km
    
 Engine  
 Type2.0L2.0L
 Output147 hp152 hp
 Torque132 lb-ft145 lb-ft
 Displacement4 cylinders4 cylinders
    
 Capacities  
 Cargo space530 L, 1,758 L589 L, 1,566 L
 Fuel tank54 L63 L
    
 Dimensions  
 Length4196 mm4465 mm
 Width1801 mm1801 mm
 Height1600 mm1615 mm
 Wheelbase2601 mm2664 mm
    
 Warranty5 yrs/100,000 km3 yrs/60,000 km
    
 Prices$21,195 to $29,295$23,795 to $31,295
    
    
    
    
    
    

 

2020 Kia Soul / 2020 Subaru Crosstrek, rear
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2020 Kia Soul / 2020 Subaru Crosstrek, rear