Drive This, Not That: 2014 Kia Soul vs. 2013 Nissan Juke NISMO

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Winner: 2014 Kia Soul

We gays are a colorful lot, so why it is that so many of us drive the same dull cars is a mystery to me. Especially when there are such vibrant yet affordable automobiles out there as the funky 2014 Nissan Juke and all-new Kia Soul, who are duking it out in this month’s episode of Drive This, Not That.

Between the two, the Nissan is the most fun to look at, with its genre-defying proportions, wonky headlights and cartoonish fenders. It’s also the most fun to drive, by a lot if you get the hopped up NISMO model, with its 197 turbocharged horsepower, racing seats and track-tuned suspension. But even outstanding performance can’t mask the plasticky cheapness of the Juke’s interior, and going fast is little compensation to rear seat passengers, whose heads regularly have unscheduled meetings with the low roof.

The redesigned Kia Soul breaks less ground from a design standpoint, but that’s okay, as it retains the charmingly wedgy looks of the original, and some of its new colors (like “Moss,” “Dune,” and “Alien”) are truly epic. The Soul is nowhere near as powerful, but it has an infinitely more refined cabin, high-tech optional infotainment features, and quiet powertrain. Also, while the Juke’s little bubble-butt is cute enough to cup with your hand (go ahead, it can’t slap you), there’s not much you can do with it once you pop the hatch, as there is surprisingly little cargo space back there. The upright tailgate and added square footage in the Soul’s cargo hold makes it much better able to accommodate our active lifestyles. Winner: Soul.

The Scorecard (««««« = best)

 

2013 Nissan Juke NISMO

2014 Kia Soul

Price as tested

$24,970 (standard Juke: $19,780)

$24,010 (base: $15,495)

Styling

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Acceleration

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Handling

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Interior décor

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Interior space

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Cargo Space

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Value

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Fuel Economy, mpg (city/hwy)

25/31

23/31

Renowned automotive journalist and gay car geek Steve Siler has turned his life-long love of cars into a fruitful and enthusiastic career traveling the world to test thousands of new vehicles as they are introduced. Siler is s regular contributor to Car and Driver Magazine, Edmunds.com,AutoTrader.com, AOL Autos and Yahoo! Autos, and also pioneered automotive writing for the GLBT community more than a decade ago.