2018 Kia Soul vs. 2017 Fiat 500

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Kia Soul are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Fiat 500 doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The Soul + offers optional Autonomous Emergency Braking, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The 500 doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

The Soul +’s optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane. The 500 doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

To help make backing safer, the Soul +/!’s optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The 500 doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

The Soul offers optional 911 Connect, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The 500 doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the Soul and the 500 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, available daytime running lights, blind spot warning systems and rearview cameras.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Kia Soul is safer than the Fiat 500:

 

Soul

500

OVERALL STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

 

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

181

384

Neck Injury Risk

25%

30%

Neck Stress

248 lbs.

406 lbs.

Neck Compression

51 lbs.

152 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

40/87 lbs.

436/571 lbs.

 

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

3 Stars

Chest Compression

.4 inches

.6 inches

Neck Injury Risk

42%

49%

Neck Stress

142 lbs.

256 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

197/76 lbs.

479/866 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

A significantly tougher test than their original offset frontal crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH small overlap frontal offset crash tests. In this test, where only 25% of the total width of the vehicle is struck, results indicate that the Kia Soul is safer than the 500:

 

Soul

500

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

POOR

Restraints

GOOD

POOR

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Steering Column Movement Rearward

1 cm

7 cm

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

MARGINAL

Femur Force R/L

5.4/0 kN

8.2/4.2 kN

Lower Leg Evaluation

GOOD

POOR

Tibia index R/L

.41/.56

1.69/.79

Tibia forces R/L

1.7/1 kN

6.4/4.8 kN

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Kia Soul is safer than the Fiat 500:

 

Soul

500

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

97

166

Abdominal Force

190 G’s

199 G’s

Hip Force

377 lbs.

684 lbs.

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

231

382

Hip Force

727 lbs.

852 lbs.

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

3 Stars

Max Damage Depth

14 inches

14 inches

Spine Acceleration

32 G’s

54 G’s

Hip Force

591 lbs.

1103 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and with its optional front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Soul the rating of “Top Pick” for 2016, a rating granted to only 129 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The 500 is not a “Top Pick” for 2016.

Warranty

The Soul comes with a full 5 year/60,000 mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24 hour roadside assistance. The 500’s 4 year/50,000 mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 10,000 miles sooner.

Kia’s powertrain warranty covers the Soul 6 years and 50,000 miles longer than Fiat covers the 500. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the 500 ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

There are over 2 times as many Kia dealers as there are Fiat dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Soul’s warranty.

Reliability

The camshafts in the Soul’s engine are driven by a hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs. The 500’s camshaft is driven by a rubber belt that needs periodic replacement. If the 500’s cam drive belt breaks the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Soul has a standard 550-amp battery (600 +). The 500’s 500-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Soul’s reliability 37 points higher than the 500.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Soul first among compact mpvs in their 2017 Initial Quality Study. The 500 isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2017 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Kia vehicles are better in initial quality than Fiat vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia first in initial quality, above the industry average. With 91 more problems per 100 vehicles, Fiat is ranked 32nd, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2016 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Fiat vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia 17th in reliability. With 18 more problems per 100 vehicles, Fiat is ranked 26th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ April 2017 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Fiat vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia 23 places higher in reliability than Fiat.

Engine

The Soul has more powerful engines than the 500:

 

Horsepower

Torque

Soul 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl.

130 HP

118 lbs.-ft.

Soul + 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl.

161 HP

150 lbs.-ft.

Soul ! 1.6 turbo 4 cyl.

201 HP

195 lbs.-ft.

500 1.4 SOHC 4 cyl.

101 HP

98 lbs.-ft.

500 Abarth 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

157 HP

183 lbs.-ft.

500 Abarth 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

160 HP

170 lbs.-ft.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Soul ! Auto turbo 4 cyl. gets better city fuel mileage than the 500 Abarth 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. (157 HP)

(26 city vs. 24 city).

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Soul + offers an optional system to automatically turn off the engine when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The 500 doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Kia Soul uses regular unleaded gasoline. The 500 requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Soul has 3.7 gallons more fuel capacity than the 500 (14.2 vs. 10.5 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

A six-speed manual is standard on the Kia Soul, with closer gear ratios for better performance and a lower final drive ratio for quieter highway operation, less engine wear and better fuel mileage. Only a five-speed manual is available for the 500.

A seven-speed automatic (SMG) is standard on the Kia Soul !, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the 500.

The Soul offers an available sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The 500 doesn’t offer an SMG.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Soul’s brake rotors are larger than those on the 500:

 

Soul

Soul !

500

500 Abarth

Front Rotors

11 inches

12 inches

10.1 inches

11.1 inches

Rear Rotors

10.3 inches

10.3 inches

9.4 inches

9.4 inches

The Soul stops much shorter than the 500:

 

Soul

500

 

70 to 0 MPH

162 feet

195 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

114 feet

131 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

135 feet

142 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Soul has larger standard tires than the 500 (205/60R16 vs. 185/55R15). The Soul !’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the 500 (235/45R18 vs. 205/40R17).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Soul has standard 16-inch wheels. Smaller 15-inch wheels are standard on the 500 Pop/Lounge. The Soul !’s 18-inch wheels are larger than the 17-inch wheels optional on the 500 Abarth.

The Kia Soul’s wheels have 5 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Fiat 500 only has 4 wheel lugs per wheel.

Suspension and Handling

The Soul has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The 500’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Soul’s wheelbase is 10.6 inches longer than on the 500 (101.2 inches vs. 90.6 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Soul is 6.3 inches wider in the front and 7.2 inches wider in the rear than the track on the 500.

Passenger Space

The Soul has standard seating for 5 passengers; the 500 can only carry 4.

The Soul has 25.5 cubic feet more passenger volume than the 500 (101 vs. 75.5).

The Soul has .7 inches more front headroom, .2 inches more front legroom, 5.3 inches more front hip room, 6.1 inches more front shoulder room, 3.9 inches more rear headroom, 7.4 inches more rear legroom, 6.7 inches more rear hip room and 8.3 inches more rear shoulder room than the 500.

Servicing Ease

The Soul uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The 500 uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

Ergonomics

The Soul offers a remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The 500 doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

To help each driver find a more comfortable driving position, the Soul has a telescoping steering wheel. Much better than just a tilt steering wheel or adjustable seat, this allows a short driver to sit further from the steering wheel while maintaining contact with the pedals. The 500 doesn’t offer a telescoping steering wheel.

The Soul’s standard power windows have a locking feature to keep children in the rear seat from operating them. Fiat does not offer a locking feature on the 500’s standard power windows.

The Soul +/!’s front power windows both open or close with one touch of the switches. The 500’s power window switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully.

The Soul’s standard power window controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The 500’s available power window controls are spread out on the center console where they can’t be seen without the driver completely removing his eyes from the road.

The Smart Key optional on the Soul (except Base) allows you to unlock the driver’s door, cargo door and start the engine all without removing a key from pocket or purse. This eliminates searching for keys before loading groceries, getting in the vehicle in bad weather or making a hurried start to your trip. The Fiat 500 doesn’t offer an advanced key system.

The Soul has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The 500 doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Soul has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the 500 only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

The Soul offers an optional automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The 500 doesn’t offer automatic headlights.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Soul has standard extendable sun visors. The 500 doesn’t offer extendable visors.

Both the Soul and the 500 offer available heated front seats. The Soul +/! also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the 500.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the Soul + keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in Summer. The 500 doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold Winter days, the Soul +/!’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the vehicle heater warms up. The 500 doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The Soul +/! has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The 500 doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

For greater rear passenger comfort, the Soul has standard rear heat vents to keep rear occupants more comfortable. The 500 doesn’t offer rear vents.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Soul offers an optional Smart Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The 500 doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Soul owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Soul with a number “1” insurance rate while the 500 is rated higher at a number “5” rate.

The Soul will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Soul will retain 40.25% to 46.98% of its original price after five years, while the 500 only retains 20.53% to 34.95%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Soul is less expensive to operate than the 500 because typical repairs cost much less on the Soul than the 500, including $141 less for a water pump, $41 less for front brake pads, $184 less for fuel injection, $245 less for a fuel pump and $10 less for a timing belt/chain.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Kia Soul will be $3244 to $11484 less than for the Fiat 500.

Recommendations

The Kia Soul has won recognition from these important consumer publications:

 

Soul

500

Consumer Reports® Recommends

TRUE

FALSE

Car Book “Best Bet”

TRUE

FALSE

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Soul first among compact mpvs in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The 500 isn’t in the top three in its category.

The Kia Soul outsold the Fiat 500 by over 9 to one during the 2016 model year.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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