2020 Kia Soul vs. 2019 Hyundai Kona

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Both the Soul and the Kona 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, rear cross-path warning and driver alert monitors.


To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Soul has a standard 760-amp battery. The Kona’s 640-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 Hyundai vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 1 more problems per 100 vehicles, Hyundai is ranked third.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Hyundai vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia 5 places higher in reliability than Hyundai.


The Soul GT-Line Turbo’s standard 1.6 turbo 4 cyl. produces 54 more horsepower (201 vs. 147) and 63 lbs.-ft. more torque (195 vs. 132) than the Kona’s standard 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl.

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



Zero to 60 MPH

8 sec

9.2 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

24.7 sec

28.2 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

8.2 sec

9.6 sec

Quarter Mile

16.4 sec

17 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

86 MPH

82 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Soul EX gets better fuel mileage than the Kona FWD with its standard engine (29 city/35 hwy vs. 27 city/33 hwy).

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 Kona doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The Soul has 1.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the Kona (14.3 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.


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 Kona doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

The Soul stops much shorter than the Kona:



70 to 0 MPH

161 feet

175 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

114 feet

133 feet

Motor Trend

Suspension and Handling

The Soul X-Line handles at .91 G’s, while the Kona SEL 4x4 pulls only .88 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Soul GT-Line Turbo executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1 seconds quicker than the Kona SE (26.8 seconds @ .66 average G’s vs. 27.8 seconds @ .6 average G’s).

Passenger Space

The Soul has .2 inches more front hip room, 1.7 inches more rear headroom, 4.2 inches more rear legroom, .6 inches more rear hip room and .2 inches more rear shoulder room than the Kona.

Cargo Capacity

The Soul has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the Kona with its rear seat up (24.2 vs. 19.2 cubic feet). The Soul has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the Kona with its rear seat folded (62.1 vs. 45.8 cubic feet).

Servicing Ease

The Soul uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Kona 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.


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 Kona doesn’t offer the luxury of an automatic dimming rear view mirror.

On extremely cold winter days, the Soul GT-Line Turbo’s standard heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the vehicle heater warms up. The Kona doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

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 Kona doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

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 Kona 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 Kona is rated higher at a number “8” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Soul is less expensive to operate than the Kona because typical repairs cost much less on the Soul than the Kona, including $101 less for a water pump, $201 less for a muffler, $18 less for a fuel pump and $50 less for front struts.


The Kia Soul outsold the Hyundai Kona by over two to one during 2018.

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

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