2020 Kia Soul vs. 2019 Mazda CX-3

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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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 CX-3 doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Soul and the CX-3 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.


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 CX-3’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 Mazda covers the CX-3. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the CX-3 ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

There are over 32 percent more Kia dealers than there are Mazda dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Soul’s warranty.


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 Mazda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 24 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mazda is ranked 12th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Mazda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia 10th in reliability, above the industry average. With 33 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mazda is ranked 21st.


The Soul GT-Line Turbo’s standard 1.6 turbo 4 cyl. produces 53 more horsepower (201 vs. 148) and 49 lbs.-ft. more torque (195 vs. 146) than the CX-3’s 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the Kia Soul 2.0 4 cyl. is faster than the Mazda CX-3 (automatics tested):



Zero to 60 MPH

8 sec

8.1 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

8.2 sec

8.3 sec

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Soul EX gets better fuel mileage than the CX-3 FWD (29 city/35 hwy vs. 29 city/34 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 CX-3 doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The Soul has 2.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the CX-3 AWD’s standard fuel tank (14.3 vs. 11.9 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Soul has 1.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the CX-3 FWD’s standard fuel tank (14.3 vs. 12.7 gallons).


The Soul offers a manual transmission for better acceleration, control and fuel economy. The CX-3 doesn’t offer a manual 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 CX-3.

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 CX-3 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 CX-3 doesn’t offer an SMG.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Soul GT-Line Turbo’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the CX-3:

Soul GT-Line Turbo



Front Rotors

12 inches

11 inches

11.6 inches

Rear Rotors

11.2 inches

11.1 inches

11.1 inches

The Soul stops much shorter than the CX-3:



70 to 0 MPH

161 feet

181 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

114 feet

118 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Soul X-Line/GT-Line’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the CX-3 (235/45R18 vs. 215/60R16).

The Soul X-Line/GT-Line’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the CX-3 Grand Touring/Touring’s 50 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

The Soul has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The CX-3’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Soul’s wheelbase is 1.2 inches longer than on the CX-3 (102.4 inches vs. 101.2 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Soul is 2 inches wider in the front and 2.5 inches wider in the rear than on the CX-3.

The Soul X-Line handles at .91 G’s, while the CX-3 Touring AWD 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 CX-3 Grand Touring AWD (26.8 seconds @ .66 average G’s vs. 27.6 seconds @ .66 average G’s).


The Soul is 3.1 inches shorter than the CX-3, making the Soul easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

The Soul has 14.6 cubic feet more passenger volume than the CX-3 (102.2 vs. 87.6).

The Soul has 1 inch more front headroom, 1.2 inches more front hip room, 2 inches more front shoulder room, 2.3 inches more rear headroom, 3.8 inches more rear legroom, 3.8 inches more rear hip room and 4.3 inches more rear shoulder room than the CX-3.

Cargo Capacity

The Soul has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the CX-3 with its rear seat up (24.2 vs. 12.4 cubic feet). The Soul has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the CX-3 with its rear seat folded (62.1 vs. 44.5 cubic feet).

The Soul’s cargo area is larger than the CX-3’s in almost every dimension:



Length to seat (2nd/1st)



Max Width



Min Width






Servicing Ease

The Soul uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The CX-3 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 power windows standard on both the Soul and the CX-3 have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Soul is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The CX-3 prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The Soul has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The CX-3 only offers an automatic headlight on/off feature as an extra cost option.

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 CX-3 doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

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 CX-3 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 CX-3 because typical repairs cost less on the Soul than the CX-3, including $19 less for front brake pads, $96 less for fuel injection, $27 less for a fuel pump and $56 less for front struts.


The Kia Soul outsold the Mazda CX-3 by over six to one during 2018.

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

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