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Pitting the 2020 Renegade vs 2020 Kia Soul

An orange 2020 Jeep Renegade is parked in front an office building.

When it comes to the battle of compact SUVs, two of the top vehicles in the category are the 2020 Jeep Renegade and the 2020 Kia Soul. Both share a similar, boxy design, so if this is a look you’re into, you’ll likely love one or the other. However, to decide which of the two vehicles is right for you, it’s necessary to dive into the nitty-gritty and directly pit the 2020 Jeep Renegade vs 2020 Kia Soul.

MSRP And Trim Options

The 2020 Jeep Renegade was recently announced, so while you’ll find the 2020 edition making its way to dealerships near you, the MSRP may differ slightly from now to the point where the vehicle is released. The 2020 Kia Soul, on the other hand, has already been released, and all the pricing details have been updated.

The 2020 Jeep Renegade has an estimated MSRP of $22,275 with its Sport front-wheel-drive automatic trim package. The Jeep does have several trim options, with some designed more for the road while others geared more towards off-roading. The top-trim package is the High Altitude 4×4, which has an estimated MSRP of $28,145.

The 2020 Kia Soul has a handful of trim options. The entry-level is the LX. The base LX manual edition comes with a beginning MSRP of $17,490. If you’re interested in an automatic, the cost does jump to $18,990. The S trim runs at $20,290, while the GT-Line has an MSRP of $20,290. The top-tier trim package on the 2020 Kia Soul is the GT-Line Turbo with an MSRP starting at $27,490.

If you’re going for simply a cheap price point, the 2020 Kia Soul does have a less expensive entry cost. This is especially the case if you’re interested in a manual transmission. If you’d like an automatic, the price difference between the two is a little more than $3,000, while the top trip package has a difference of under $600. So in terms of just price, the Kia does cost less, but does it come at the expense of features and performance? We’ll need to dive in a bit deeper.

Engine Performance

With the 2020 Jeep Renegade, there are two engine options you have to choose from. On most of the entry-level trim packages, the engine used is a 2.4L I4 engine (although you can opt for the upgraded engine on any trim level). The 2.4L standard engine produces 180 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. This engine provides 22 miles per gallon in the city and 30 miles per gallon on the highway. If you want the engine in a 4×4 the base Sport package is available in a 4×4 with a $23,775 MSRP price point (the 2.4L engine is based off of 2019 numbers. While Jeep uses the same engine in the 2020 model it is possible the torque and horsepower may have slightly improved when the official numbers come out).

A red 2020 Jeep Renegade, which wins when comparing the 2020 Jeep Renegade vs 2020 Kia Soul, is parked on a rock over looking mountains.

If you’d like the upgraded engine, you’ll receive a 1.3L inter-cooled turbo premium engine that produces 177 horsepower and 210 lb-ft of torque. This particular engine also sees a boost in fuel economy at 24 miles per gallon in the city and 32 miles per gallon on the highway. The Limited trim is the least expensive offering where the turbo engine comes standard (and has an entry MSRP of $26,645).

For the 2020 Kia Soul, it’s best to compare the automatic entry transmission with the 2020 Jeep Renegade. This entry uses a 2.0L I4 that produces 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque. This is substantially lower in performance than anything the Jeep offers. Fuel economy is slightly better at 27 miles per gallon in the city and 33 miles per gallon on the highway, but with the slower engine that is to be expected. There is no option to upgrade the engine until you spring for the top-tier GT-Line Turbo (which has an entry price point of $27,490). This engine is a 1.6L intercooled turbo I4 that produces 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. The fuel economy is 27 MPG in the city and 32 MPG on the highway.

There’s a bit to unpack here. First, if you want any kind of engine that can compete with what is on the Jeep, you’ll need to go for the top-tier 2020 Kia Soul, which is almost $1,000 more than the Limited trim package on the Jeep Renegade. Probably the biggest downside though, is the 2020 Kia Soul does not have a 4×4 or automatic drivetrain option. When shopping around for an SUV, there’s a good chance you want four-wheel-drive. If you do, the Kia Soul has nothing for you in this regard, which is especially unfortunate.

Safety Features

You likely will want to compare safety features when considering an SUV. The Kia Soul is already behind the 8-ball as it doesn’t offer a 4×4 option. Can it make up for it with some added safety features?

On the 2020 Jeep Renegade, the SUV comes standard with a driver, front head, front side, passenger, and rear head airbags. It also features 4-wheel ABS and 4-wheel disc brakes. Other safety features include brake assist, electronic stability control, child safety locks, daytime running lights, and traction control. These are all standard on even the entry-level trim package. You can also spring for blind-spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert, and lane departure warning. The top-tier trim package has all of these features as optional as well, although integrated turn signal mirrors come standard.

As for the 2020 Kia Soul? It comes with the same number of airbags and the same brake features. It also features brake assist, daytime running lights, traction control, child safety locks, and electronic stability control on the base package. There is no option to upgrade the safety features. As for the top tier trim? It does add some safety features as standard, including integrated turn signal mirrors, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, and lane departure warning. It is nice that these come standard, but you’re forced to get the top tier package to have any kind of bonus safety features. If you wanted, you could add these options on the entry trim package with the Jeep. This way, you don’t need to upgrade to a higher trim package if you don’t want it.

Entertainment

Sometimes it is the entertainment features that set two vehicles apart. Due to this, it is important to compare what you can get on the 2020 Jeep Renegade and what you get on the 2020 Kia Soul.

On the 2020 Jeep Renegade, the entry-level trim comes with AM/FM stereo, MP3 player, and AUX input for connecting your external devices via the headphone jack. Bluetooth smart device integration and satellite radio are both optional. On the top tier package, you’ll receive AM/FM stereo, AUX input, MP3 player, satellite radio, smart device integration, wireless cell phone hookup, and navigation system as standard. Optional features include HD radio, a premium Kenwood sound system, and an onboard hands-free communications system.

A driver's view of the driver's display in the all-new 2020 Jeep Renegade is shown.

What does the 2020 Kia Soul come with? The base package includes AM/FM stereo, MP3 player, AUX input and smart device integration. There are no optional features. As is the case with most other features on the Kia Soul, if you want options you need to upgrade to a higher trim. On the top-tier trim? You receive AM/FM stereo, AUX input, HD radio, satellite radio, MP3 player, smart device integration, premium sound system, and navigation system.

If you’re willing to go for the top tier trim, you will receive more standard features. If you don’t, you’ll be stuck with next to no features with no option to upgrade.

So What’s Right For You?

If you just want to go for a lower price and don’t care about convenience features, the 2020 Kia Soul is a great choice. The base MSRP is cheaper. There is no way around it. However, for that price, you get a gutless engine with no features. If you want anything more than just something that drives, you’re forced to upgrade to the top trim, which is going to run you over $27,000. All of that and you don’t even have the option for a 4×4.

If you want four-wheel drive, the Renegade is the only option. If you want a better engine without going to with a higher trim, you’ll go with the Renegade. If you want off-roading features you’ll go with the Renegade. Basically, if you just want something cheap that drives well, you’ll go with the Soul. If you’re interested in any kind of performance features that are desirable on an SUV, you’ll go with the Renegade.

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