2017 Kia Soul vs Jeep Renegade

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The Kia Soul and the Jeep Renegade are two models that confounded critics by becoming favorites with buyers. Their fun and funky styling and small proportions have created the best compliment–a huge number of imitators from other brands. But how do these two standard-setters shape up when we put the 2017 Kia Soul up against the Jeep Renegade?

2017 Kia Soul vs Jeep Renegade

Styling: Kia Soul

You may not believe it by looking at its cutting edge style, but the Kia Soul has been around for quite a while now. Because of the huge success of the original, Kia has barely touched the styling of the Soul–an easy choice when you’re staying with a winning formula. The Soul is boxy and funky, without veering off into being too cute. As a result, the styling of the little Kia appeals to a huge variety of different buyers, and it’s stayed fresh and appealing as it has aged.

Despite being an Italian-built vehicle, created using the same platform as the Fiat 500, the Renegade pulls of an incredible achievement. The Renegade actually looks more like an authentic Jeep than the Cherokee. But, unlike the Soul, the Jeep Renegade can seem a little more cute than cutting edge or rugged, which may minimize its appeal to wider audiences.

Power and Performance: Kia Soul

You can choose from three engines in the Kia Soul family, all of which are four-cylinder units. The base engine is a 1.6-liter unit that produces 130 horsepower, the middle engine is a 2.0-liter version offering 161 horsepower, and the final option is a 1.6-liter turbo-four that puts an impressive 201 horsepower under the driver’s foot. You can opt for manual, automatic, and dual-clutch transmission options, but unfortunately, you won’t find an option for all-wheel drive.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Renegade does have the option of all-wheel drive, as well as two different engines to choose between. The base engine is a 1.4-liter turbo-four putting out 160 horsepower, and the alternative is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that develops 180 horsepower. The base engine is only available with a stick shift, but the more powerful unit comes with a very contemporary nine-speed auto. Even with its AWD option and its Jeep badge, the Renegade can’t match the power under the hood of the Soul.

Safety: Kia Soul

Such small vehicles are rarely impressive in crash testing, but the Kia Soul is actually pretty good. The IIHS gave the Kia its top “Good” rating in all its tests, and the federal testers at the NHTSA awarded the Soul a five-star overall safety rating. All versions of the Soul come with a total of six airbags, including dual front airbags, seat-mounted side bags, and full-length side curtain bags. It’s also worth pointing out the Soul has superior four-wheel disc brakes, while many affordable small cars of this size only offer drum brakes for the rear wheels.

Although the NHTSA give the Renegade an overall rating of four stars, in the calculated rollover test it only scored three stars, which is pretty rare for any vehicle these days and not a good result for the Jeep at all. The Renegade also received a mixed bag of ratings from the IIHS.

Fuel Economy: Jeep Renegade

The most powerful engine with the dual-clutch transmission is the fuel economy champion of the Kia Soul lineup, which gets EPA-estimated ratings of 26 mpg in the city, 31 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg combined.

In its base form with the 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a manual gearbox, the Renegade is rated at 24 mpg in the city, 31 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg combined. Kia does a smidge better, but those ratings also extend to the AWD version of the Renegade, which Kia can’t compete with and which is impressive.

Learn More about the Kia Soul

Many buyers like the look of the Jeep Renegade, and few of its rivals can top its off-road capability. However, the Renegade doesn’t have the wide-appeal of the 2017 Kia Soul, nor does it offer as many engine and transmission options or as much power as the Kia. While the Renegade may serve the needs of a select few buyers, the Kia Soul is the better overall buy.