2020 Kia Soul vs. 2019 Subaru Impreza

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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 Impreza doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Soul and the Impreza have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, 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.

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

There are over 22 percent more Kia dealers than there are Subaru dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Soul’s warranty.

Reliability

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the Soul has a standard 150-amp alternator. The Impreza’s 130-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 Impreza’s 530-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 Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 43 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 25th, 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 Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia 10th in reliability, above the industry average. With 10 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 14th.

Engine

The Soul GT-Line Turbo’s standard 1.6 turbo 4 cyl. produces 49 more horsepower (201 vs. 152) and 50 lbs.-ft. more torque (195 vs. 145) than the Impreza’s 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the Soul GT-Line Turbo is faster than the Subaru Impreza (automatics tested):

Soul

Impreza

Zero to 60 MPH

6.5 sec

9.3 sec

Quarter Mile

15 sec

17.2 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

93.7 MPH

83 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Soul Manual with its standard engine gets better fuel mileage than the Impreza 5-door Manual (25 city/31 hwy vs. 24 city/31 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 Impreza doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The Soul has 1.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the Impreza (14.3 vs. 13.2 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 Impreza.

The Soul offers an available sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is more internally efficient than a CVT but just as easy to drive. The Impreza 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 Impreza:

Soul

Soul GT-Line Turbo

Impreza

Impreza Sport

Front Rotors

11 inches

12 inches

10.9 inches

11.6 inches

Rear Rotors

10.3 inches

11.2 inches

10.8 inches

10.8 inches

The Soul stops much shorter than the Impreza:

Soul

Impreza

60 to 0 MPH

114 feet

127 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 Impreza (235/45R18 vs. 225/40R18).

Suspension and Handling

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Soul is 1.4 inches wider in the front and 1.6 inches wider in the rear than on the Impreza.

The Soul GT-Line Turbo handles at .86 G’s, while the Impreza 2.0i Limited 5-door pulls only .80 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Soul GT-Line Turbo executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.1 seconds quicker than the Impreza 2.0i Limited 5-door (26.8 seconds @ .66 average G’s vs. 27.9 seconds @ .6 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Soul’s turning circle is .6 feet tighter than the Impreza’s (34.8 feet vs. 35.4 feet).

Chassis

The Soul is 10.4 inches shorter than the Impreza 5-door, making the Soul easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

The Soul has 1.3 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Impreza 5-door (102.2 vs. 100.9).

The Soul has 2.3 inches more rear headroom and 2.3 inches more rear legroom than the Impreza.

Cargo Capacity

The Soul has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the Impreza 5-door with its rear seat up (24.2 vs. 20.8 cubic feet). The Soul has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the Impreza 5-door with its rear seat folded (62.1 vs. 55.3 cubic feet).

Servicing Ease

The Soul uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Impreza 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 Impreza doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The power windows standard on both the Soul and the Impreza 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 Impreza prevents the driver from operating the rear windows just as it does the other passengers.

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 Impreza’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

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 Impreza has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the Premium/Sport/Limited.

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 Impreza 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 Impreza doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Soul is less expensive to operate than the Impreza because it costs $54 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Soul than the Impreza, including $40 less for a water pump, $11 less for front brake pads, $161 less for a starter, $142 less for a fuel pump and $212 less for front struts.

Recommendations

The Kia Soul outsold the Subaru Impreza by 37% during 2018.

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

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