Here we have two vehicles that are popular with Canadian motorists. These two wagons in all but name show the way to a different conception of the SUV. Their styling is unique each in their own way, and refreshingly off the beaten path.
2020 Kia Soul
The model that was quickly given the “toaster on wheels” designation when it first debuted on the market is getting a new look for 2020. To be sure, the styling is as recognizable as ever, but Kia has worked on the details and rejuvenated the Soul’s styling for the new year.
Beyond that updated styling, the 2020 Soul is equipped with a 2.0L engine making 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque and which is mated in all trims to a new continuously variable transmission. Canada has decided to abandon the 1.6L turbo engine (that configuration is still available in the U.S.) and in the process sadly cut driving pleasure in half.
Big model lineup
Even with only one engine in the offering, there’s no lack of choice here. You can pick between seven versions: LX, EX, EX+, EX Premium, GT-Line Premium, EX Limited and GT-Line Limited.
While the Soul’s styling is groovy and unique, the base model lacks charisma, even though you’ll find on it heated outside mirrors, heated front seats, climate control, 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, 6-speaker audio system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
From the EX version on you get a more-generous smattering of equipment, with LED daytime running lights, heated steering wheel, leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift lever, wireless phone charging system, cruise control, blind spot sensor, lane departure warning system, front collision avoidance system, rear cross-traffic assist system, heated windshield and heated washer-fluid spouts.
The best-equipped models offer a 10.25-inch infotainment screen with navigation, sonic feedback speakers, satellite radio, passive remote keyless entry, UVO-connected automotive services and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with leather seats.
Less fun behind the wheel
As you can imagine, the defunct turbo model was by far the most interesting Soul to drive. The 2.0L engine gets the job done, and in city driving it does a good job because of the Soul’s contained weight of just under 1,400 kg, but you miss the extra power of the little turbo engine.
2020 Subaru Crosstrek
Subaru introduced its little wagon-slash-crossover model in 2013 under the name XV Crosstrek, renaming it Crosstrek in 2016. Subaru was part of the first wave of small SUVs to hit the market in early 2010. The most significant change in 2020 is the expanded availability of Subaru’s EyeSight active safety suite, now included in all models equipped with automatic transmission, and the arrival of the first plug-in hybrid model.
The trim levels are Convenience, Touring, Sport and Limited. All use a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine that produces 152 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque and features all-wheel drive. The first three versions come with a 6-speed manual transmission that can switched out for a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). That CVT is standard on Limited models.
The Crosstrek Convenience comes standard with a 6.5-inch screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 4-speaker audio system, automatic climate control, cruise control, power windows, remote keyless entry, manual driver’s seat and power heated mirrors.
The Touring version brings LED fog lights, automatic headlights, front wiper defroster, satellite radio, six-speaker stereo, Starlink connected services, cargo cover, push-button start and leather-wrapped shift lever and steering wheel.
Sport models add an 8.0-inch screen, orange interior stitching, aluminum pedals, 6-way power driver’s seat and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
The Limited includes forward collision warning and detection, automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist with the EyeSight suite.
At the wheel
The Crosstrek rides on the Subaru Global Platform (SGP) inaugurated with the Impreza. The extended wheelbase makes for a solid and comfortable ride. The model’s agility is enhanced by responsive steering, not surprising since it was borrowed from the BRZ. The Crosstrek is without question one of the vehicles best suited to our year-round climate.
A word of advice, however: don’t spend the extra money required for a plug-In hybrid version; it offers too little range and disappointing average fuel consumption. Best stick with the regular version, by far a better choice.
Advantage Kia Soul
The Soul offers excellent fuel economy and value in terms of equipment for the cost that’s hard to beat. The warranty is also better than Subaru’s.
Advantage Subaru Crosstrek
The standard all-wheel drive configuration is a huge advantage for Canadian consumers. Driving in general is also more fun in the Crosstrek.
Both vehicles have an attitude and an approach that are off the beaten path in this often grey segment.
For its undeniable advantage on the road, our choice is Subaru’s Crosstrek, which offers better handling, a safer grip and in which you can even dare go for a ride on less maintained roads when needed/desired. The Soul is not a bad choice, but the Crosstrek is a better one.
2020 Kia Soul
Good interior design
We like less
No more turbo engine
No AWD model
Unattractive base model
2020 Subaru Crosstrek
We like less
Unpleasant manual gearbox
Lack of punch on hilly roads
|…||2020 Kia Soul||2020 Subaru Crosstrek|
|Transmission||CVT||6-sp manual / CVT|
|Fuel consumption (city)||8.6L/100 km||10.5L/100 km|
|Fuel consumption (highway)||7,1 l / 100 km||8.1L/100 km|
|Output||147 hp||152 hp|
|Torque||132 lb-ft||145 lb-ft|
|Displacement||4 cylinders||4 cylinders|
|Cargo space||530 L, 1,758 L||589 L, 1,566 L|
|Fuel tank||54 L||63 L|
|Length||4196 mm||4465 mm|
|Width||1801 mm||1801 mm|
|Height||1600 mm||1615 mm|
|Wheelbase||2601 mm||2664 mm|
|Warranty||5 yrs/100,000 km||3 yrs/60,000 km|
|Prices||$21,195 to $29,295||$23,795 to $31,295|