2020 Kia Soul vs. 2019 Chevrolet Sonic

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Soul S/EX/GT-Line has standard Forward Collision Avoidance Assist, 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 Sonic offers an available collision warning system without the automated brake feature that would prevent or reduce the collision if the driver fails to react.

To help make backing safer, the Soul (except LX)’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 Sonic doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

The Soul S/EX/GT-Line’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Sonic doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Soul and the Sonic 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 lane departure warning systems and blind spot warning systems.

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 Sonic’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 24,000 miles sooner.

Kia’s powertrain warranty covers the Soul 5 years and 40,000 miles longer than Chevrolet covers the Sonic. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Sonic ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

Reliability

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the Soul has a standard 150-amp alternator. The Sonic’s 100-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Soul has a standard 760-amp battery. The Sonic’s 438-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Kia vehicles are better in initial quality than Chevrolet vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 15 more problems per 100 vehicles, Chevrolet is ranked 6th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Chevrolet vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia 18 places higher in reliability than Chevrolet.

Engine

The Soul’s standard 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 9 more horsepower (147 vs. 138) than the Sonic’s 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. The Soul GT-Line Turbo’s standard 1.6 turbo 4 cyl. produces 63 more horsepower (201 vs. 138) and 47 lbs.-ft. more torque (195 vs. 148) than the Sonic’s 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Soul Auto’s engine automatically turns off 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 Sonic doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The Soul has 2.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the Sonic (14.3 vs. 12.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

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

The Soul offers an optional continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The Sonic doesn’t offer a CVT.

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 Sonic doesn’t offer an SMG.

Brakes and Stopping

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

Soul

Soul GT-Line Turbo

Sonic

Front Rotors

11 inches

12 inches

10.8 inches

Rear Rotors

10.3 inches

11.2 inches

9” drums

The Kia Soul has standard four-wheel disc brakes for better stopping power and improved directional control in poor weather. Only rear drums come on the Sonic. Drums can heat up and make stops longer, especially with antilock brakes that work much harder than conventional brakes.

The Soul stops much shorter than the Sonic:

Soul

Sonic

70 to 0 MPH

161 feet

184 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

114 feet

124 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Soul has larger standard tires than the Sonic (205/60R16 vs. 195/65R15). The Soul X-Line/GT-Line’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Sonic (235/45R18 vs. 205/55R16).

The Soul LX/S’ standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 60 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Sonic LS/LT’s standard 65 series tires. The Soul X-Line/GT-Line’s tires have a lower 45 series profile than the Sonic’s optional 50 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Soul LX/S has standard 16-inch wheels. Smaller 15-inch wheels are standard on the Sonic LS/LT. The Soul X-Line/GT-Line’s 18-inch wheels are larger than the 17-inch wheels optional on the Sonic.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Soul’s wheelbase is 3 inches longer than on the Sonic (102.4 inches vs. 99.4 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Soul is 2.6 inches wider in the front and 3 inches wider in the rear than on the Sonic.

The Soul X-Line handles at .91 G’s, while the Sonic Premier Hatchback pulls only .81 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Soul GT-Line Turbo executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Sonic Premier Hatchback (26.8 seconds @ .66 average G’s vs. 27.6 seconds @ .61 average G’s).

Chassis

For excellent aerodynamics, the Soul has standard flush composite headlights. The Sonic has recessed headlights that spoil its aerodynamic shape and create extra drag.

Passenger Space

The Soul has 11.6 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Sonic Hatchback (102.2 vs. 90.6).

Cargo Capacity

The Soul has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the Sonic Hatchback with its rear seat up (24.2 vs. 19 cubic feet). The Soul has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the Sonic Hatchback with its rear seat folded (62.1 vs. 47.7 cubic feet).

Servicing Ease

The Soul uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Sonic 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 GT-Line Turbo has a standard heads-up display that projects speed readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Sonic doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The Soul’s standard power windows allow the driver or passenger to lower and raise the windows without leaning over or being distracted. Power windows are only available on the Sonic LT/Premier.

The Soul S/EX/GT-Line’s standard wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. The Sonic’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

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 Sonic doesn’t offer extendable visors.

The Soul’s optional rear view mirror has an automatic dimming feature. This mirror can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on it, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Sonic doesn’t offer the luxury of an automatic dimming rear view mirror.

The Soul EX/GT-Line Turbo has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The Sonic doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

The Soul EX/GT-Line Turbo’s standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The Sonic doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

The Soul EX/GT-Line Turbo’s standard automatic temperature control maintains the temperature you set, automatically controlling fan speed, vents and temperature to maintain a consistent, comfortable environment. The Sonic doesn’t offer automatic air conditioning.

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

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Soul GT-Line Turbo has a standard 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 Sonic doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

The Soul EX/GT-Line Turbo’s standard GPS navigation system has a real-time traffic update feature that plots alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service not available in all areas.) The Sonic’s available navigation system doesn’t offer real-time traffic updates.

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 Sonic is rated higher at a number “3” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Soul is less expensive to operate than the Sonic because typical repairs cost much less on the Soul than the Sonic, including $63 less for a water pump, $262 less for a muffler, $148 less for front brake pads and $110 less for a fuel pump.

Recommendations

The Kia Soul outsold the Chevrolet Sonic by over five to one during 2018.

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

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