2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen vs. 2020 Kia Soul

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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The Golf SportWagen has standard whiplash protection, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the whiplash protection system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Soul doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The Golf SportWagen has a standard Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Soul doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

The Golf SportWagen S 4MOTION has all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Soul doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

Compared to metal, the Golf SportWagen’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Kia Soul has a metal gas tank.

Both the Golf SportWagen and the Soul have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

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 Golf SportWagen the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 155 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Soul has not been tested, yet.


The Golf SportWagen comes with a full 6-year/72000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car. The Soul’s 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 12000 miles sooner.

The Golf SportWagen’s corrosion warranty is 5 years and unlimited miles longer than the Soul’s (10/unlimited vs. 5/100,000).


The Golf SportWagen’s standard 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. produces 52 lbs.-ft. more torque (184 vs. 132) than the Soul’s standard 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. The Golf SportWagen S 4MOTION’s optional 1.8 turbo 4 cyl. produces 4 lbs.-ft. more torque (199 vs. 195) than the Soul GT-Line Turbo’s standard 1.6 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the Golf SportWagen 4MOTION is faster than the Kia Soul 2.0 4 cyl. (automatics tested):



Zero to 60 MPH

7 sec

8 sec

Quarter Mile

15.5 sec

16.4 sec

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Golf SportWagen FWD Auto gets better fuel mileage than the Soul GT-Line Turbo Auto (27 city/36 hwy vs. 27 city/32 hwy).

Brakes and Stopping

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



Front Rotors

11.3 inches

11 inches

Rear Rotors

10.7 inches

10.3 inches

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Kia Soul has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

The Golf SportWagen has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Golf SportWagen flat and controlled during cornering. The Soul’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

The Golf SportWagen has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Soul doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Golf SportWagen’s wheelbase is 1.1 inches longer than on the Soul (103.5 inches vs. 102.4 inches).

Passenger Space

The Golf SportWagen has .1 inches more front legroom and .4 inches more front shoulder room than the Soul.

Cargo Capacity

The Golf SportWagen has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the Soul with its rear seat up (30.4 vs. 24.2 cubic feet). The Golf SportWagen has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the Soul with its rear seat folded (66.5 vs. 62.1 cubic feet).

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the Golf SportWagen easier. The Golf SportWagen’s trunk lift-over height is 24.8 inches, while the Soul’s liftover is 29.8 inches.


The Golf SportWagen’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Soul’s standard power window switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully. Only its driver’s window opens automatically.

If the windows are left open on the Golf SportWagen the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can also lower the windows the same way. The driver of the Soul can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Golf SportWagen’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Soul’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the Golf SportWagen SE detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Soul doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the Golf SportWagen SE has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Soul doesn’t offer cornering lights. The Golf SportWagen SE also has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

Both the Golf SportWagen and the Soul offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Golf SportWagen has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Soul doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

The Golf SportWagen SE has a 115-volt a/c outlet in the cargo area, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The Soul doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Model Availability

The Volkswagen Golf comes in four door hatchback and station wagon bodystyles; the Kia Soul isn’t available as a four door.


The Golf was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 13 of the last 13 years. The Soul has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

Motor Trend selected the Golf as their 2015 Car of the Year. The Soul has never been chosen.

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

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