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2021 Honda HR-V vs. 2021 Kia Soul: Which Is Better?

The 2021 Honda HR-V is hardcore reliable while the 2021 Kia Soul is a funky, blocky crossover with lots of features. Both accomplish the same goal. Which is better?

Quick Facts

  • The Honda HR-V returns with only minor updates for 2021.
  • Kia Soul EV has 243 miles of range.

2021 Honda HR-V

2021 Honda HR-V

Base Price: $21,020 / Read our 2021 Honda HR-V Review

What we like: Honda’s least expensive crossover; flexible interior and cargo space; auto emergency braking

What we would change: Make the HR-V engine more powerful; improve it to properly compete with rivals; make Honda Sensing available to all trim levels

Overview: The Honda HR-V continues with few changes from a year ago, with excellent reliability and resale value, as seen in most Honda vehicles. The “Magic Seat” aids in interior flexibility and cargo space, along with generous passenger room. Continuously variable transmission (CVT) is just ok. Sadly, you need to buy the mid-level HR-V EX to take advantage of the optional Honda Sensing suite of active safety features. All-wheel-drive is standard on top-shelf Touring trim level. All others must pony-up $1,500 for lesser trims.

What’s new for 2021: The 2021 Honda HR-V returns relatively unchanged this year, with minor trim updates. All trim levels except base LX receive new wheel designs, while the Sport model gets new rear privacy glass.

Features and Technology: Sadly, you must step up to the EX trim for the Honda Sensing suite of safety and driver assists including forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, and the Honda LaneWatch blind-spot camera.

What does the future hold: Still a first-generation vehicle in the United States, the 2021 Honda HR-V follows the same pattern set forth at its introduction in 2016. Expect a new design sometime late next year as a 2022 model. See new Honda HR-V models for sale near you.

2021 Kia Soul

2021 Kia Soul

Base price: $18,610 / Read our 2021 Kia Soul First Review

What we like: Choice of engines, from a turbo to an EV; unique styling; excellent visibility; great warranty

What we don’t like: Needs driver aids on all trim levels; CVT whines at full throttle; needs an all-wheel-drive option

Overview: Offering a lot of space in a compact package, a choice of engines, and lots of personality, the 2021 Kia Soul packs a lot in for a starting price under $20K. The base engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, attached to either a 6-speed manual or a CVT, but there’s also a turbocharged four-cylinder and even an EV with 243 miles of range. There’s no mistaking the boxy shape of the Soul, like a mail truck but with modern style, but that shape gives it loads of cargo space, room for five, and great outward visibility. The Soul isn’t perfect, however, as it lacks even the option of all-wheel drive, and the base trim doesn’t include the sort of driver aids that are commonplace in even entry-level compacts. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available on all trims, and upper-level Souls get a 10.25-inch touchscreen. The Soul has typically had strong resale values, and every 2021 Kia Soul comes with Kia’s 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

What’s new for 2021: For the most part, the Kia Soul stays put for 2021, aside from a few changes. On the safety front, every trim level gets a rear occupant alert. The X-Line and GT-Line models receive a suspension upgrade. EX and Turbo versions add a remote start function, and the former GT-Line Turbo is now simply called the Turbo.

Features and technology: As mentioned above, the 2021 Kia Soul comes with a choice of engines ranging from the basic four-cylinder to a turbo or an EV. As if that choice weren’t enough, there are also six trim levels. The basic LX is still decently equipped, however, with a 6-way adjustable driver’s seat, A/C, six airbags, a USB port, and a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration. It’s powered by a 6-speed manual, although there is an optional CVT, and the seats are cloth. Forward-collision mitigation and blind-spot monitoring are not even optional at this trim, but they come in the next level up, the S. Beyond that, options include LED lighting, keyless entry and ignition, a 10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation, extra USB ports, dual-zone climate control, and heated front seats.

The X-Line adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel, foglights, and some extra body cladding, and the GT-Line adds more of a sporty appearance package. The EX adds 17-inch wheels and the larger touchscreen, and the Turbo adds not only the more powerful engine but a Harman Kardon audio system and a head-up display, among other things.

What does the future hold: The Soul has been a popular and dependable part of Kia’s stable for a number of years, so we don’t expect more than additional safety and driver assistance features as they become available. We could like to see more driver-assistance features on the base model. Find 2021 Kia Soul models for sale near you

Honda HR-V vs. Kia Soul: Strengths Comparison

Honda HR-V benefits: Honda reliability and resale value; Good passenger layout and cargo-hauling capability.

Kia Soul benefits: Funky design; fun to drive; all-electric version available; best-in-class warranty.

2021 Honda HR-V vs. 2021 Kia Soul:  Which is better?

Honda has a bulletproof reputation for reliability and resale but Kia has an incredible warranty behind it. In this comparison, especially if you’re looking for an electric vehicle the Kia Soul is your best bet. If all-wheel drive is at the top of your list, go with the Honda HR-V. Find a 2021 Kia Soul for sale or  Find a 2021 Honda HR-V for sale

Popular Powertrains 2021 Honda HR-V 2021 Kia Soul
Engine 1.8-liter I4 2.0-liter I4
Horsepower 141 @ 6,500 rpm 147 hp @ 6200 rpm
Torque 127 lb-ft @ 4,300 rpm 132 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm
Transmission CVT with O/D CVT/6-speed manual
Fuel Economy 30 mpg (28 city/34 highway) 27 mpg (25 city, 31 highway)
Also Available AWD 1.6-liter I4, turbocharged; EV with 64-kWh liquid-cooled battery
Specs
Basic warranty 3 years/36,000 miles 5 years or 60,000 miles
Powertrain warranty 5 years/60,000 miles 10 years or 100,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety Rating 5-star 4 Stars
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 102.8 inches 102.4 inches
Overall Length 170.4 inches 165.2 inches
Width 69.8 inches 70.9 inches
Height 63.2 inches 63.0 inches
Turning Diameter 37.4 feet 34.8 feet
Headroom, Front 37.6 inches 39.4 inches
Headroom, Rear 38.3 inches 39.5 inches
Legroom, Front 41.2 inches 41.1 inches
Legroom, Rear 39.3 inches 38.8 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 56.8 inches 55.5 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 54.5 inches 54.7 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 96.1 cubic feet 102.2 cubic feet
EPA Cargo Volume 24.3/58.8 cubic feet 62.1 cubic feet

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