Picture, if you will, a new car buyer. You’re in the market for your next vehicle, and you’ve decided that a compact SUV makes the most sense for your lifestyle. It’s versatility and exceptional fuel efficiency fits your needs. It’s a vehicle with the space you need for your stuff and a sporty sight to behold that gives you the time to enjoy driving and the peace of mind you need with your passengers. Two of the best compact SUVs on the market are the 2020 Chevy Trax and the 2020 Kia Soul.
Both comfortably seat up to five passengers, have plenty of room for your stuff in the hatchback rear, and have sporty looks. They are also both surprisingly roomy for an SUV of their size. The Trax provides a cozy 92.8 cubic feet of passenger space, while the Soul is even a little roomier with 102.2 cubic feet in the cabin. But in comparing the 2020 Chevy Trax vs. 2020 Kia Soul, you might have difficulty deciding whether you should make Trax to your local Chevy dealer or go to a Kia dealership and get some Soul.
Available Trims and Pricing
The 2020 Chevy Trax has a base MSRP of $21,400, which will put you behind the wheel of the LS trim. This trim comes equipped with a folding front passenger seat to add additional cargo space when you are driving alone. It also has ten airbags and a rear vision camera. If that is not enough, the LT trim adds roof rack side rails, cruise control, and a remote starter, while the top Premier trim includes leatherette seats, a power sunroof, and larger 18-inch wheels. There is also a Redline Edition available as an option on the Trax LT trim.
The 2020 Kia Soul actually has a lower price point and more trim levels. However, as we will see, initial impressions can be misleading. The base trim is the LX with an MSRP of $17,490, which comes with a rear-camera display and a manual transmission. If you want automatic transmission, you will have to pay for an additional feature.
The S trim is next in a line, and it adds larger 16-inch wheels and some standard safety features. The GT-Line trim is a bit sportier and includes 18-inch wheels, while the X-Line trim includes fog lights and special roof trim as well as available two-tone paint. The EX trim includes heated front seats, remote start, and navigation on the UVO infotainment system. The top trim is the GT-Line Turbo, which features a different engine than the other trims, as well as synthetic leather seats.
While there are a full six trims to the Soul as compared to three for the Trax, many of the mid-level trims have only small differences between them. In addition, while the Soul has a lower starting price, to get a comparable vehicle to the Trax, you will still need to pay about the same price. This is clearly the case when comparing the top Soul GT-Line Turbo and the Trax Premier, which are only $1,000 apart.
Overall Vehicle Performance
There is only one standard engine on the 2020 Chevy Trax. It is a 1.4-liter Turbo EcoTec 4-cylinder gas engine. This produces a peppy 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. It is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission to give you solid control over your vehicle.
The 2020 Kia Soul has two engine options. The standard engine is a 2.0-liter Inline 4-cylinder gas engine. While this is larger than the engine on the Trax, because it lacks a turbocharger, it only produces 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque. As a result, the Soul may seem somewhat sluggish when compared to the Trax.
This engine comes on every Soul trim level except the GT-Line Turbo, which is equipped with a turbocharged 1.6-liter Inline 4-cylinder gas engine. This engine is more powerful than the one on the Trax, able to produce 201 horsepower and 195 pounds to feet of torque. However, that comes at a premium as it is not available on any of the other trims.
There are also differences in the transmission. As mentioned above, every Chevy Trax has a standard 6-speed automatic transmission, but Kia has taken a different approach with the Soul. The base trim LX has a 6-speed manual transmission. There is an optional automatic transmission available on the LX, but it will cost you extra.
The GT-Line Turbo has a 7-speed automatic dual-clutch transmission with paddle shifters. But all other trims have a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which Kia refers to as an intelligently variable transmission (IVT). Instead of gears, this type of transmission uses a belt that can vary its gear ratio for optimal fuel economy. However, this tends to reduce driving feel and prioritize efficiency over power delivery.
Most importantly, all 2020 Kia Soul models are front-wheel drive only. This can be a problem if you live in a temperate climate with a good deal of snow, sleet, and ice where all-wheel drive can be a necessity. In contrast, you can choose between front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive on the 2020 Chevy Trax. Also, the Trax has a smaller wheelbase as compared to the Soul, 100.6 inches to 102.4 inches. As a result, the Trax has tighter cornering and a better turning radius, providing you with better overall handling.
One of the main reasons people buy a compact SUV is for the fuel economy. The 2020 Chevy Trax and the 2020 Kia Soul don’t disappoint in this regard. The front-wheel drive Trax gets 26 mpg in city driving, 31 mpg on the highway, and a combined 28 mpg. When you choose the Trax with four-wheel drive, the fuel economy declines slightly to 24 mpg in the city, 29 mpg on the highway, and 26 mpg combined.
The numbers for the 2020 Kia Soul are comparable. The Soul LX with the 2.0-liter engine and manual transmission gets 25 mpg in city driving, 31 mpg in highway driving, and 27 mpg combined. In the trims equipped with a standard IVT transmission, the Soul gets up to 28 mpg in the city, 33 mpg on the highway, and 30 mpg combined. The Soul GT-Line Turbo gets 27 mpg in the city, 32 mpg on the highway, and 29 mpg combined.
Both the 2020 Chevy Trax and 2020 Kia Soul come with a standard infotainment system. While both are good, the Chevy Infotainment 3 system provides more features than the one on the Kia. Both systems include Bluetooth connectivity, a 6-speaker audio system, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. However, the Chevy Infotainment 3 system is capable of providing a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. This will turn your Trax into a mobile hotspot for you and your passengers, like an Internet cafe on wheels.
In addition, the Trax Premier comes with a standard Bose 7-speaker premium audio system that is also available as an upgrade on the Trax LT. The only Soul trim that comes with a premium audio system is the GT-Line Turbo, which has a Harman Kardon audio system with a center speaker, subwoofer, and external amplifier. Kia does not even offer this as an option on the other higher trims on the 2020 Kia Soul.
So if you are trying to find yourself the best all-around compact SUV, then the Chevy Trax is the clear winner. It has top notch infotainment to keep you entertained, it has a powertrain that is tuned for fun without sacrificing fuel economy, and most importantly it has all-wheel drive to keep you safe on the road. Still not convinced? Then it is time to make Trax to your nearest Chevy dealer to try one out for yourself.