By Emme Hall.
Today we’re taking a look at two of the boxiest cars out there: the 2013 Scion xB and the re-designed for 2014 Kia Soul! Both have loads of quirk and appeal to those drivers who like a bit of unique from their daily rides, but only one can come out on top here in at Autocomparison. The xB gets a 2.4L inline 4 cylinder, good for 158 horsepower and 162 lb/ft of torque. A 5 speed manual transmission gets those front wheels moving, although a 4 speed automatic is available. 0-60 mph takes about 8.6 seconds, and EPA fuel ratings are 22 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, and 24 mpg combined.
The xB 10 Series arrives to you with 16” alloy wheels, power accessories, air conditioning, cruise control, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, and a 6 speaker Pioneer sound system with a CD player, controlled with a 6.1” touchscreen. There are no factory options, but you can purchase plenty of dealer accessories including different wheels, satellite radio, some performance parts, a rear spoiler, Smartphone app integration, and a rear seat entertainment system.
The xB is far from an enthusiasts’ car, but it performs reasonably well. Power in the low end is decent enough to satisfy reasonable drivers off the line. I found the suspension to be a little jarring and road and wind noise to be plentiful. There certainly more comfortable and quieter crossovers on the market.
The Kia Soul! (also called Exclaim) comes with a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine, good for 164 horsepower and 151 lb/ft of torque. Power goes to the front wheels via a 6 speed automatic transmission. 60 mph comes in just over 10 seconds and EPA fuel ratings are 23 mpg in the city, 31 mpg on the highway, and 26 mpg combined. It should be noted that the base Soul is offered with a 1.6L engine, good for 130 horsepower and 118 lb/ft of torque with a standard 6 speed manual, although a 6 speed automatic is available.
The Soul! comes with many standard features including 18” wheels, power accessories, air conditioning, a multi-functional steering wheel, Bluetooth, satellite radio, iPod connectivity, keyless entry, cruise control, a 10-way power driver seat, leather wrapped steering wheel, a cooled glove box, an infotainment system with an 8” touchscreen display, and a backup camera. Our test model also came with the optional Sun and Sound package, adding automatic climate control, navigation, a panoramic sunroof, and an upgraded Infinity Audio system with speaker lights. We also enjoyed The Whole Shabang package (I swear that’s what it’s called) with push button start, leather upholstery, an upgraded instrument panel, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel.
Like the Scion xB, the Soul! is not necessarily a performance car, yet it still offers enough pep to satisfy most drivers who are just looking for reliable transportation with a bit of a kick. Shifts from the automatic are smooth, if a bit slow. There are three different steering options: comfort, normal, and sport. Each one definitely offers its own feel, but I found the sport mode to be best. It offers the most weight and precision; comfort and normal were just too light for my taste. The ride on the Soul! is very smooth, especially when compared to past models. Still, acceleration could be quicker.
The 2013 Scion xB starts at $19,210. The 2014 Kia Soul! starts at $20,300, although optioned up you can easily add $5000 to that price. If you’re looking for standard features, the Soul! is the better buy. But if you’re like me and driving fun means driving a manual, then look at the xB. The only way to get a manual in the Kia is to drop down to the less powerful engine, and that’s a sacrifice no driver should have to make.