2020 Kia Soul vs 2020 Nissan Kicks

Front view of red 2020 Kia Soul vs rear view of blue 2020 Nissan Kicks

Subcompact crossovers have outranked compact SUVs as the leading automotive class. But what makes them so appealing in the first place? Settling in somewhere between a car and a full-size SUV, this type of vehicle offers the best of both worlds. On one hand, they feature stylish body lines and provide plenty of cargo space, and on the other, they ensure a smooth and efficient driving experience. The downsize? Due to the competitiveness of the segment, it might be difficult to figure out which model is the best option for you.

You can’t start your compact crossover research without considering the model that started it all: the iconic Kia Soul. The 2020 model year marks the third generation of this boxy and distinctive SUV, bringing in a new signature style while maintaining the same attitude that has made it a fan-favorite since its introduction. Want to find out if the Kia Soul is still the head of its class? Join Moritz Kia as we put this model head to head with the popular 2020 Nissan Kicks and find out which one takes the win.

2020 Kia Soul


2020 Nissan Kicks

$17,490 Starting MSRP $18,870
2.0-liter 4-cylinder (147 hp) Base Engine (Horsepower) 1.6-liter 4-cylinder (122 hp)
1.6-liter turbocharged (201 hp) Available Engine (Horsepower) N/A
6-speed manual, IVT, DCT Transmission CVT
Standard Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ Available
102.2 cu. ft. Passenger Volume 93.9 cu. ft.
24.2 / 62.1 cu. ft. Cargo Volume (Seats Up, Folded) 25.3 / 32.3 cu. ft.

Is the Kia Soul Still Leading the Subcompact Crossover Class?

The new Kia Soul not only starts at a lower price tag than the 2020 Nissan Kicks, but it also comes better equipped. For starters, the Soul makes use of a standard 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that outpaces that of the Kicks by far. For those who seek more excitement when pushing the gas pedal, the Kia Soul is also available with a 1.6 turbocharged engine that delivers 201 horsepower. The 122-hp engine found in the base Kicks is the only option available, so forget about upgrading.

Depending on the trim you choose, the Kia Soul comes with one of three transmission options. The base trim is equipped with a 6-speed automatic, the range-topping GT-Line Turbo uses a 7-Speed Dual-Clutch, and the rest of the lineup comes with an Intelligent Variable Transmission. The Nissan Kicks, on the other hand, makes use of a Continuously Variable Transmission throughout the lineup.

When it comes to space, the 2020 Kia Soul also takes the upper hand. Its cabin features around 8 cubic feet of extra room over the Kicks. Rear-seat passengers will also enjoy more headroom, shoulder room, and legroom to stretch in the Soul. In terms of cargo space, this Kia doesn’t disappoint either. Although the Nissan Kicks features slightly more room when all seats are in place, the Soul almost doubles the space when the rear seats are folded down.

What about features? Standard on every Soul you will find a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ integration, a six-speaker audio system, and Bluetooth® connectivity. The Nissan Kicks also features a 7-inch display, but it doesn’t come standard with smartphone compatibility. Other features that are available on the Soul include a power sunroof, wireless device charging, a 10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation, and a Harman Kardon® audio system.