The Honda Fit and Kia Soul make hauling cargo and passengers easy in tight urban spaces
Small, utilitarian vehicles have been taking over the roads for the last couple of years, and the Honda Fit and Kia Soul are two popular examples of some of today's top sellers. These vehicles seem to blur the line between what constitutes a sedan, a crossover, and a hatchback—providing a surprising amount of space in a relatively small package. If you're in the market for one of these utility vehicles, then you may be wondering which option is best for you. Fortunately, we've taken some of the research and guesswork out of your next car purchase by putting together our own side-by-side comparison of these two popular vehicles.
Who drives these cars?
“These drivers want efficiency, but they’re looking for style too.”
- CarMax Senior Purchaser, Tampa
Our sales consultants say that Fit and Soul drivers are on the younger side, and they’re budget-conscious, too. “These drivers want efficiency, but they’re looking for style too,” says one of our buyers who purchases vehicles for CarMax to sell in Tampa, Florida. “The Fit and the Soul make great use of their interior space, and they’ve got a unique look to them, especially the Soul.” Drivers might be couples with a small child, or a dog that’s transported in a crate. If you’re efficiency-minded and need a large, flat area for moving big items, you might be in the market for one of these vehicles.
The Honda Fit has become a household name, with this model celebrating 10 years of production in 2017. One of its biggest draws is its aerodynamic, tapered hatchback design that packs a surprising punch when it comes to space. At the same time, the Fit’s smart design allows for excellent fuel economy and great handling.
Where it shines
Lots of interior space for its small size
The Honda Fit falls into the category of a subcompact car, meaning it's among the smallest and easiest to maneuver. Still, many drivers have noted that the Honda Fit offers a surprising amount of space in its cabin. For example, more recent model year releases of the Honda Fit feature rear seats that have a highly configurable design, known as the Magic Seat®. This seat not only allows you to create cargo space by folding the rear seats, but also allows you to expand the cargo space vertically. In addition, there are options that allow you to position the front passenger seat to either increase cargo space or give the passenger the ability to stretch out and “lounge.”
Specific cargo space numbers will vary depending on which model year of the Fit you end up purchasing, but most feature around 50 cubic feet of space. This is huge for a car of its size. It also features more legroom in the rear seat area than the Kia Soul.
Incredible fuel economy
Another aspect of driving the Fit that people love is its incredible fuel economy. Thanks to being a smaller vehicle with an efficient engine, the Fit can deliver anywhere from 32 mpg to 41 mpg combined, depending on the model year and the trim level you select (the 2017 Fit is available in LX, EX, and EX-L packages). This makes the Fit a great option for drivers who want to get the most mileage for their fuel money.
Where it falls short
Reduced smartphone integration options
Honda did not begin incorporating smartphone integration into the Fit until the 2016 model year, so previous year releases won't have this option. And even with vehicles that have the HondaLink® system, its functionality falls short when it comes to Android® devices. Specifically, its HondaLink touchscreen interface design seems to have no problems with recognizing and connecting an iPhone® and other Apple® devices, but it does not seem to be entirely compatible with all Android devices. This can be disappointing for drivers with Android phones who may have been counting on being able to stream music through their phone or use other features that they paid for.
Reduced engine options
Unlike many other vehicles in its class, the Honda Fit does not offer different engine options for buyers to choose from. However, the Honda Fit EX-L does come standard with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which is designed to save on fuel.
The Kia Soul has appealed strongly to a younger market since its release, but its unique design and quirky style are popular with anyone who wants to stand out behind the wheel.
Where it shines
There are plenty of advantages to owning a Kia Soul, with a few of our favorite features and benefits outlined below.
The Kia Soul’s unique design is great for drivers who want a smaller utility vehicle that doesn't fit into a cookie-cutter mold. Depending on the model year you select, the Kia Soul also comes in a variety of fun color options, including Inferno Red and Alien 2 Green. Its large, signature passenger windows not only give the Soul a funky and trendy look, but also help to increase visibility and cut down on blind spots.
Lots of passenger space
Despite being a relatively small car, the Kia Soul has an interior that might fool you into thinking you're sitting in a full-size SUV. There’s plenty of room, especially in the rear seats, for passengers to kick back and enjoy the ride comfortably. There is also plenty of headroom for taller passengers. Certain trim levels of the Kia Soul also come with a panoramic sunroof, which helps create the illusion of more space. There’s also a decent amount of cargo space behind the rear passenger seats in the Kia Soul—much more than you’d expect when you’re looking at it from the outside.
The Kia Soul has a very boxy design. While you might anticipate handling and maneuverability to suffer as a result of this, drivers are often surprised to see just how nimbly the Soul handles sharper curves and turns. And while you wouldn't mistake the driving experience for that of a sports car, the Soul performs and handles better than some other, more aerodynamic vehicles in its class. That’s probably thanks to the available powertrain options here; the Soul offers three engine choices and three transmission choices. Choose the turbocharged engine and automatic, dual-clutch transmission package and you’re off to the races!
Where it falls short
While there are certainly some great features in the Kia Soul, there are a couple of areas where there’s some room for improvement.
While the specific fuel economy will vary based on the trim level, it is worth noting that even the most efficient engine on this vehicle earned an average of just 27 mpg combined — and this refers specifically to the 2017 release. Older models will have slightly lower fuel economy averages. This isn't terrible by any means, but it doesn’t show up as well in comparison to the fuel economy of many similar-sized vehicles on the market, including the Honda Fit.
While the Kia Soul provides a relatively smooth ride in most conditions, road noise is very apparent inside the cabin. Even on relatively smooth roads, drivers and passengers alike reported higher-than-average road noise. Road noise can be especially noticeable in trim levels that come with the larger, 17-inch wheels as opposed to the standard wheel option.
Both the Honda Fit and the Kia Soul have a lot to offer, and both are excellent choices for those who are looking for a versatile, smaller utility vehicle. Overall, the Honda Fit provides better fuel economy and a little more versatility, especially when it comes to cargo space, the ability to fold down seats, and the innovative Magic Seat®, which provides a surprising amount of storage for the vehicle’s size.
On the other hand, the Kia Soul has more features to choose from and is a much more technologically advanced vehicle than the Honda Fit, for example, offering seamless smartphone integration. Also, while the Honda comes with Honda LaneWatch (a video blind spot monitor in the passenger’s side mirror), the Soul offers a blind spot monitor plus lane-departure warning, in addition to ventilated seats. Furthermore, the Kia Soul offers significantly more headroom than the Fit, which could be a deciding factor for taller drivers. The Soul also provides the option of a turbocharged engine, which could be another deciding factor.
Finally, there’s the question of warranties — Kia’s vehicles offer five-year, 60,000-mile warranties while Honda offers three-year, 36,000-mile coverage. These warranties carry over to take care of used vehicles, too. “A lot of people will be looking at a Kia Soul that’s a few years old, and it’s attractive to them because it’s got plenty of warranty left on it,” our vehicle purchaser says.
The bottom line
So which of these vehicles is best for you? There’s no way to say which vehicle is objectively better. Generally, if you dig high-tech features, you could really love the Kia Soul. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more practical, fuel-efficient car, the Honda Fit might be a better fit!
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