As automakers clamor to produce cute and cool cars that appeal to entry-level buyers and fuel-conscious, style-minded drivers, the competition could not be more fierce for cars like the Kia Soul and Ford Fiesta. Similar in size, these two peppy subcompacts are forging an economy-minded path in two very different directions.
What the Kia Soul Gets Right
With its squared-off shoulders and upright stance, one has to wonder how the Kia Soul creates an aero-dynamic look from a basic rectangle. On paper, the Soul must have come across as boring and dull, but once it hit the streets, Kia found it had produced one of the hippest cars on the market.
Marketed as an "urban utility vehicle," the Soul’s affordable price tag includes power windows and door locks, heated outside mirrors, a telescoping steering wheel and a six-speaker AM/FM/MP3 audio unit.
What the Ford Fiesta Gets Right
The design of Ford’s Fiesta is downright aggressive -- Ford calls it a "kinetic design language" inspired by motion and the experience of dynamic driving. Whatever technical terms the design crews at Ford are using, it works.
The Fiesta certainly looks fun to drive, and it doesn't disappoint with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 120 horsepower and 112 pound-feet of torque. A premium Titanium package includes options like heated leather seats and push button start.
Automakers Believe Style and Efficiency Can Coexist
Both the Kia Soul and Ford Fiesta are handsome vehicles. Each offers a level of technology and convenience features previously unheard of in cars in this price range. Upgraded stereos, power windows and locks, special lighting, and high tech instrument clusters are attracting budget- and style-conscious buyers alike. That these cars are also fun to drive and fuel efficient is an added perk.
Our Verdict: Ford Fiesta
Ford has a winning combination with the Fiesta's looks and performance.