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Kia Soul vs. Toyota RAV4

Author: Nancy Williams
by Nancy Williams
Posted: Jun 24, 2015

The Kia Soul and the Toyota RAV4 may both fall into the compact crossover segment, but it many respects they couldn’t be more different. While the RAV4 conforms to a fairly sterile and homogenous stereotype for such vehicles in terms of styling, the Kia Soul is quite the opposite. It may have the familiar upright stance of a crossover, but the rest of the Kia’s styling sets it apart as a vehicle all on its own. Both vehicles are extremely practical, but the Soul manages to deliver the space and practicality we want from a crossover, but with a notably smaller footprint than the Toyota. The RAV4 has got progressively bigger over the years and could now even be considered as a midsize, despite having almost no more interior space than the Soul.

The RAV4 could easily be mistaken in a crowded car park for any one of a number of other models in the compact crossover segment. However, there’s nothing else in the U.S. market that the Soul could reasonably be mistaken for. The Soul features a blunt front end and boxy shape that produces a truly unique silhouette; and a roofline that looks like it’s floating over a blacked-out greenhouse. The overall look is very distinctive, but without venturing into the realms of the gimmicky.

Vehicles like these two are more about practicality than performance, but both perform more than adequately in a wide variety of circumstances and conditions. The RAV4 gives a bit of a nod to its full-blown SUV ancestors with the option of all-wheel drive, but vehicles like these are rarely going to be used in situations where it’s necessary. Kia hasn’t tried to make any pretenses that the Soul is anything other than the fantastically practical family vehicle a compact crossover is intended to be. It’s a vehicle that drives like a car, but with SUV levels of practicality and spaciousness.

Being primarily aimed at family buyers, safety is an important factor for prospective buyers of the RAV4 and Soul. Although the Toyota has strong safety credentials, they’re by no means class-leading, and the Soul has attained better ratings from both the IIHS and NHTSA in recent crash testing.

When it comes to fuel economy, the Kia wins again with Eco models returning as much as 24 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.* The best the Toyota can manage is 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway with front-wheel drive models, while upgrading to all-wheel drive drops those numbers down to 22 and 29 respectively.

As far as value for money is concerned, it’s hard to look past the Soul once again. The Kia comes in three different trim levels of Soul, Soul Plus (+) and Soul Exclaim (!), with prices starting at as little as $15,900 for a nicely-equipped base model with a six-speed manual gearbox and the 1.6-liter engine. The base RAV4 is also reasonably well-equipped, but it needs to be with a starting MSRP of $23,680.

When you go up the trim levels, the Soul starts to look like even better value with top-spec models offering features you can’t even have on a RAV4. The top-of-the-line Limited trim of the Toyota has an MSRP of $30,735, but you can’t even pay extra and get the ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and the heated steering wheel you can get with the Soul.

Both the Toyota RAV4 and the Kia Soul are very, very good vehicles, but it’s hard to make a strong case for choosing the Toyota over the Kia. The Soul offers lots of standard and available features, excellent fuel economy, remarkable amounts of interior space, outstanding value for money, and award-winning styling that marks it out from the crowd.

*All vehicle mileage based on 2015 EPA mileage estimates. Use for comparison purposes only. Do not compare to models before 2008. Your actual mileage will vary, depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.

Car Pros Kia of Tacoma in Tacoma is your full-service Kia dealership, providing new and preowned Kia cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles. Our factory-trained service technicians have the latest information to keep your vehicle running at peak performance. If you are searching for Kia dealers in Eastside using the keywords Eastside WA Kia or Eastside area Kia dealers, visit our dealership today.

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Author: Nancy Williams

Nancy Williams

Member since: Feb 23, 2015
Published articles: 3

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