2013 Nissan Cube vs. 2013 Kia Soul
2013 should be a very profitable new model year for Nissan given the fact that they have introduced not only the hot selling Altima family sedan but they recently also brought out a more family oriented Pathfinder and most recently a new Sentra economy sedan that actually might for the first time since its 1982 introduction give Civics, the Chevy Cruze and VW Jetta a run for their money personality -wise. But what if you don’t want to own another boring old economical four door small family sedan as your first totally new set of wheels?
Now, this doesn’t mean you are necessarily young and rebellious if you don’t want to follow the typical four doors and a trunk route because in many cases as people get older they find that small econobox sedans just aren’t as comfortable or as easy to get in and out of anymore. But honestly, do you think that a pair of empty nesters would be just as attracted to the 2013 Nissan Cube or 2013 Kia Soul as they would a far more traditional Forte or Sentra?
Well, if you still can’t quite see the appeal models built mainly for just young customers like the Honda Element, Scion xB and Kia Soul to people with bad knees, hips and who take a little extra time to get out of higher SUVs or lower sporty models. In reality, theses “boxy crossovers” like the 2013 Nissan Cube and 2013 Kia Soul have proven to be invaluable to older new car buyers looking to downsize into something affordable that still manages to make them look like they are at the very least young at heart. And only someone young at heart would buy these exuberantly styled cars, no doubt.Exterior Styling and Interior Comfort
For something that Nissan calls the “Cube,” this vehicle’s exterior styling sure is chock full of asymmetrical angles, unique bulges and an overall look that screams “I was designed by an animated cartoon character!” To be quite honest, there were so many uniquely wacky design elements inside and out of the 2013 Cube that we wondered if the engineers who worked on this living room on wheels were ever actually technically “human.”
Now, one can only come to this conclusion after seeing the laundry list of oddball “influences” this four wheeled living room on wheels had during its birthing process, so clearly one of the engineers had an uncle or aunt related to Roger Rabbit or Daffy Duck. There is simply no other logical or rational explanation for something like a stylistic headliner ripple which was inspired by a pebble being thrown into a still pond. Even the speedometer and tachometer dials were inspired by the colors of the Earth and the Moon although normal folks might just say one glows white and the other one blue.
The Soul, on the other hand, is a much less wacky looking design with the squared off exterior mixing nicely with oversized and characterful headlamps. It almost looks how we imagine a four door Mini would look if those weren’t so ugly. Despite being on the market for a few years now, the design of the Soul still looks fresh and exciting. Along with the Optima sedan, it is our favorite looking Kia model to date.
Now, if you are worried that the interior of a Soul can only fit Hamsters you would be very wrong. The cabin offers plenty of head and legroom for tall passengers all the while still offering 23.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats. Fold those down and the figure grows to 53.4 cubic inches making this the perfect vehicle for the drummer in a local rock band. The Cube, on the other hand, focuses pretty much only on the comfort of passengers giving its interior a feeling like you are riding around on two couches on wheels. Cargo volume with the rear seats in place is a pitiful 11.4 cubic feet and the tailgate swings on hinges located on the right side making it difficult to open fully in tight parking spots. (Winner: 2013 Kia Soul!)Pricing, Value and Fuel Economy
Our fully loaded 2013 Kia Soul! model came equipped with the well worth it $2,500 Premium package which adds nicely textured leather seats, front seat heaters, push button start, in-dash navigation with graphics far superior to those found in the Cube’s available unit as well as automatic climate control. This brought the cost to $23,175 with destination fees which we thought was entirely fair given the fact that a fully loaded Rio SX costs over $21,000 and is nowhere near as good looking or fun to drive. Additional features include a back-up camera, power moonroof, six-speed automatic transmission, a powerful Infinity audio system with subwoofer, killer looking 18-inch alloys, Bluetooth, USB/iPod integration and power everything.
Our Cube tester was actually a limited edition Indigo S version which stickered at just over $20,000 and came standard with air conditioning, power windows, door locks and mirrors, Bluetooth, an AM/FM/CD/USB-iPod 6-speaker Rockford Fosgate stereo system with a subwoofer, an in-dash navigation system, a back-up warning system, Nissan’s CVT automatic transmission, push button start, 15-inch alloy wheels and the most bizarrely blue interior seat upholstery we have seen in any new car since 1978. Oh yes, and there was a circular shag carpet rug on top of the dash that looked like it belonged on the floor of someone’s bathroom, again in 1978.
EPA fuel economy estimates for the Cube with its 1.8 liter 122 horsepower/127 lb. feet of torque engine are 22 city/31 highway and over seven days we averaged 23 miles per gallon on regular unleaded. Our Soul came equipped with a much peppier 2.0 liter 164 horsepower/148 lb. feet of torque 4-cylinder engine with EPA estimates of 23 city/28 highway. Yet, despite all the hoopla surrounding fuel economy at Kia nowadays our tester returned a solid 25 miles per gallon making it our choice for a unique, utilitarian, high value and fuel efficient hamster hauler. (Winner: Kia Soul!)Driving Impressions
We must admit that driving the 2013 Nissan Cube with its 122 horsepower 1.8 liter engine and CVT automatic transmission was far more fun than we expected given how much we disliked driving the compact Versa sedan earlier this year. In all truth, the Cube not only is more refined and quiet when cruising but the transmission felt more responsive than the one we so loathed in that Versa. So if you want a compact Nissan model that’s affordable and fuel efficient go for the Cube. It may not corner like a race car due to its ultra-square layout but what did you expect? It’s like driving your living room around and all that’s missing is a flat screen TV blocking out the windshield.
The 2013 Kia Soul! with its recently introduced 2.0 liter 164 horsepower/148 lb. feet of torque 4-cylinder and ultra-responsive six speed automatic feels like a racing go-cart compared to the Cube. Not only does the engine make one of the sportiest noises of any non-turbo 4-cylinder currently built by Hyundai or Kia. In fact, its steely staccato wail mixed with a smooth upsurge in forward thrust as the revs rise reminded us a lot of Honda’s finest creations. This powertrain really does help elevate the Soul past ordinary economy car status into the realm of cars that truly bring driving joy into the hearts of their owners.
Additionally, the Soul beats the Cube when it comes to steering feel and precision as well as handling smoothness. The Soul does very well in spirited driving maneuvers where, again, the Cube feels like you’re cornering in a La-Z-Boy. Wind, road and engine noise is also better muted in the Soul although the very loud and crisp sounding Infinity audio system easily can drown out any outside noise in this exemplary Kia. (Winner: 2013 Kia Soul!) And the Winner is…
In case you don’t know what a landslide victory is, quite obviously in this test the 2013 Kia Soul handily walks away the winner. Sure, the ads for this car featuring the life sized hamsters are some of the most memorable and clever spots ever created for any new car. But honestly, this fun to drive, affordable and fuel efficient hatchback could easily sell based on the strength of its positive attributes and not just the cuteness of break dancing hamsters.
This 2013 Kia Soul photo was taken during a Breast Cancer Awareness Event Held by HerHighway.com which was sponsored by Kia Motors America.