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Kia Soul vs. Subaru Impreza, two versatile hatchbacks with significant differences

Consumer Reports News: May 08, 2012 08:08 AM

The Kia Soul and Subaru Impreza hatchback are similar in some ways, such as engine size; use of simple controls; easy access to the noisy cabin; and comparable fuel economy, cargo room, and turning circles. Yet, there are big differences in styling and performance.

Subaru made a bold move with its redesigned Impreza, moving to electric steering and cutting horsepower way back to make a dramatic fuel-economy improvement. By moving from the previous 2.5-liter flat-four engine to the new 2.0-liter and swapping in a continuously variable transmission, Subaru was able to give its all-wheel-drive Impreza the fuel economy of a front-drive car.

The smaller, lighter Soul has the advantage as far as acceleration goes, with its164-hp engine—16 more than the Impreza. Its 2.0-liter engine is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, a combination that works well. But the Impreza's handling is more enjoyable.

2012-Kia-Soul-vs-Subaru-Impreza-3.jpgBoth cars offer ample interior space, with the Impreza all business and the Soul looking a bit funkier. Controls are straightforward and hard plastic are plentiful in both.

Ride quality is quite different, with the Impreza providing impressive suspension isolation, while the Soul telegraphs bumps into the cabin.

The Soul and Impreza each offer an appealing package for shoppers looking for a small, versatile package with good fuel economy and some personality. But, there are clear differences and trade-offs.

Watch the video below for further highlights of the Soul. And check out the Soul and Impreza model pages for a full detailed road test and complete Ratings.

Jeff Bartlett

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