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2021 Hyundai Venue vs. 2021 Kia Soul: Which Is Better?

The 2021Hyundai Venue and the 2021 Kia Soul are both front-wheel-drive, budget-priced runabouts. Which is better?

Quick Facts

  • The Hyundai Venue is 6 inches shorter than the Hyundai Kona.
  • The Kia Soul is in its third generation.

2021 Hyundai Venue

2021 Hyundai Venue Front Passenger Side in Gray
Above: The 2021 Hyundai Venue in Stellar Silver

Base Price: $18,750 / Read our 2021 Hyundai Venue Review

What we like: Value pricing; good fuel economy; ease of parking; great warranty.

What we would change: More power would be welcome; make AWD available; add blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert to the base model.

Overview: The 2021 Hyundai Venue is the smallest least expensive crossover in the brand’s lineup. A 1.6-liter 4-cylinder is the sole engine choice and is paired exclusively with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and front-wheel drive. The CVT makes good use of the engine’s modest 121 horsepower, and the Venue feels spry enough around town, less so on the highway. Fuel economy is 30 mpg city, 33 mpg highway. The ride can be busy, but the steering is light and accurate. The tidy footprint and a tight turning circle make the Venue highly maneuverable, and with good outward visibility, it’s a cinch to park. Although the interior is not large, the tall roof and upright seating position allow just enough room for adults in the back seat. The Venue’s cargo space, though, is limited with 18.7 cubic feet behind the seats and 31.9 with rear seatbacks folded.

What’s new for 2021: The manual transmission previously available in the base SE is gone, and that trim upgrades from steel wheels to 15-inch alloys. The contents of the SEL’s Convenience Package are now standard on that model, bringing blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, a sliding center armrest, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.

Features and technology: The Venue’s three trim levels are SE, SEL, and Denim. The SE includes forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and a driver-attention monitor. The SEL adds a sunroof, automatic climate control, 17-inch wheels, roof rails, and more. A Premium Package for the SEL brings heated front seats, navigation, LED headlights, and pushbutton start, among other features. The Denim includes all those items except for the sunroof and adds a white contrast roof plus unique denim-and-vinyl upholstery. The Venue’s cabin has plenty of hard plastic inside, but the controls are straightforward and easy to use, including the 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto that’s standard on all grades.

What does the future hold: The Venue was introduced last year, so we don’t expect any major changes soon. See 2021 Hyundai Venue models for sale near you

2021 Kia Soul

2021 Kia Soul Front Right Side in Green
Above: The 2021 Kia Soul in Undercover Green

Base Price: $17,590 / Read our 2021 Kia Soul Review

What we like: Roomy interior; punchy available 1.6-liter turbo; low starting price.

What we would change: Make AWD available; make active-safety features standard.

Overview: The 2021 Kia Soul is more of a tall hatchback than a true crossover, but the funky Soul still offers plenty of utility within its boxy form. The popular Soul is now in its third generation after a redesign for 2020, which made this model more polished than previously. Most Souls are powered by a 2.0-liter engine with 147 hp. The base LX still offers a 6-speed stick, but otherwise, that engine is paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). A potent 201-hp 1.6-liter turbocharged engine and 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT) are reserved for the top Turbo model. All Soul models are front-wheel drive. EPA combined estimates are 30 or 31 mpg with the 2.0-liter/CVT, 29 mpg for the turbo, and 27 mpg for the 2.0-liter/manual.  The Turbo has a firmer suspension than its brethren for sportier handling at some sacrifice in ride quality.

What’s new for 2021: The former GT-Line Turbo had its name shortened to just Turbo. All versions receive a rear occupant alert, and a remote start feature has been added to the key fob on EX and Turbo models. The X-Line and GT-Line have revised shocks for better ride comfort.

Features and technology: The 2021 Kia Soul is offered in six trim levels: LX, S, X-Line, GT-Line, EX, and Turbo. The LX is sparsely equipped. The S brings forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert as well as a power driver’s seat. The X-Line upgrades to 18-inch wheels and adds roof rails plus SUV-like exterior trim but no off-road equipment. The GT-Line has its own 18-inch wheel design and sporty appearance elements. The EX gets a power sunroof, heated seats, and wireless charging. The Turbo has a turbocharged engine and DCT, plus adaptive cruise control, a heated steering wheel, premium audio, and a head-up display. An easy-to-use 10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation is on the EX and Turbo; other models get a 7-inch unit. Both include Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

What does the future hold: The Soul has been a popular member of the Kia stable for a number of years, so we don’t expect more than additional safety and driver-assistance features as they become available. See 2021 Kia Soul models for sale near you

Venue vs. Soul: Strengths Comparison

2021 Hyundai Venue vs 2021 Kia Soul Interior
Above: The 2021 Hyundai Venue Interior Below: The 2021 Kia Soul Interior


Hyundai Venue Benefits: Ease of parking; 3-years free scheduled maintenance.

Kia Soul Benefits: Extra-roomy rear seat; powerful optional turbo engine; low starting price; long warranty.

2021 Hyundai Venue vs. 2021 Kia Soul: Which Is Better?

2021 Hyundai Venue vs 2021 Kia Soul Exterior
Above: The 2021 Hyundai Venue in Stellar Silver Below: The 2021 Kia Soul in Undercover Green

The base-trim Hyundai Venue is better equipped than the Soul and its free maintenance offsets its slightly higher price. The Soul’s higher trims, however, get both fancier and sportier, and it gets the nod for those who regularly carry adults in the rear seat or who need more luggage space. And the Soul Turbo, though pricey, has performance the Venue can’t match.

See 2021 Hyundai Venue models for sale or See 2021 Kia Soul models for sale

2021 Hyundai Venue 2021 Kia Soul
Popular Powertrains
Engine 1.6-liter I4 2.0-liter I4
Horsepower 121 hp @ 6,300 rpm 147 hp @ 6,200 rpm
Torque 113 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm 132 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm
Transmission CVT 6-spd manual
Fuel Economy 31 mpg (30 city/33 hwy) 27 mpg (25 city/31 hwy)
Also Available n/a 1.6-liter turbo I4; 7-spd DCT; CVT; EV
Warranty 5 years/60,000 miles 5 years/60,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty 10 years/100,000 miles 10 years/100,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety 4 stars 5 stars
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 99.2 inches 102.4 inches
Overall Length 159.1 inches 165.2 inches
Width 69.7 inches 70.9 inches
Height 61.6 inches 63.0 inches
Turning Diameter 33.2 feet 34.8 feet
Headroom, Front 39.4 inches 39.4 inches
Headroom, Rear 38.6 inches 39.5 inches
Legroom, Front 41.3 inches 41.1 inches
Legroom, Rear 34.3 inches 38.8 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 53.9 inches 55.5 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 53.7 inches 54.7 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 91.9 cubic feet 120.9 cubic feet
EPA Cargo Volume 18.7/31.9 cubic feet 23.0/62.1 cubic feet

Joe Lorio
Joe Lorio
Joe Lorio is an author specializing in automobiles. He says, “I have been into cars ever since I started with Matchboxes, and have been sharing my opinions about them for almost as long. Granted, I was pretty young at the time, but my parents really should have listened to me when I told them not to buy an Austin Marina.”

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