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2015 Kia Soul EV Review +VIDEO
2015 Kia Soul EV Review
By Steve Purdy
The Auto Channel
Here in the U.S. our choices of pure electric vehicles are limited
for good reasons – primarily cost and range anxiety. Electrics, and
even full hybrids, still constitute a tiny fraction of the automobile
market and that number is not growing much. Battery technology has not yet
advanced to the point that costs come down significantly, so to add range
is very expensive. We recently reviewed VW’s Golf EV
that will go about 100-miles on a full charge and this week we have the Kia
Soul EV with a nearly equivalent range.
The Kia Soul, in all its iterations, is one of my favorite small
cars for a variety of reasons we can sum up as being charming and
functional with a big personality. When people ask for recommendations of
what car they should buy (we auto writers get that a lot) I’ve often
ended up recommending the Soul to a broad demographic for precisely these
reasons. In fact, just this morning a friend of mine in southern California
told me she is thinking of something new and she wants to downsize from her
current car. She’s been retired for many years and is very active. I
suggested she take a look at the Soul.
Soul is a Korean-made compact 5-door, front-wheel drive hatchback
(some call it a wagon or CUV - and it is all those things) with a quirky,
boxy shape. I’ve described it in the past as “cute as an anime
puppy.” Soul’s vertical demeanor means it is much easier than
most compacts to get in and out of with head and legroom better than the
The appearance of the EV version of the Soul is punctuated by blue
trim and badging, A body-color charging port door is half of what would be
the grille of the conventional car. Blue accents around the car along with
unusual-looking, aerodynamic white alloy wheels help set this one apart
from its conventionally powered brethren. Blue-accented projector beam
headlights add to the ambiance. The 16-inch wheels, by the way, are shod
with SLRR (super low rolling resistance) tires.
Inside, the Soul EV feels roomy and airy, partly because of the
light colored materials but also because the high roofline allows for a
larger greenhouse than most other compacts.
We have white leather seats and
trim with blue piping. The dash is a nice white material and the control
panel in the center of the dash is made of a shiny, almost translucent
plastic with a retro look. USB, auxiliary input and two 12V outlets are
conveniently located in the cubby ahead of the console. On each side of the
dash a stylish tower houses vents and speakers. Rear seat area also feels
roomy and comfortable. Split rear seat backs fold 60/40. Cargo capacity is
18.8 cubic-feet with seat backs in position and 49.5 with them folded.
Total passenger volume is a good 97.1 cubic-feet.
It looks almost as if there is a small, conventional engine under
the plastic cover when we open the hood. But really it is an electric motor
and all the electronic stuff it takes to make it work. The 27-kWh
lithium-ion polymer battery pack located under the car stores enough
electrons for an advertised EPA estimated 93-mile range and a
miles-per-gallon “equivalent” of 105 in the combined cycle. The
AC motor is good for just 109 horsepower but a sold 210 pound-feet of
torque. The big advantage of the electric powertrain is that the full
measure of torque is available right from a dead stop, and we can really
feel that. Acceleration is impressive. We found the readout in the IC that
indicates the number of miles of range remaining on the charge to be
accurate. As a disclaimer, though, we should note that our week with the
car was so nice we needed neither the AC nor heater.
Soul EV prices start at $31,950 before application of the federal
tax credit worth $7,500. Net cost then, for most folks, will be about
$24,500 on the entry level Soul EV. Without the credit I would consider the
car overpriced, but with the credit it is a bargain – particularly if
you want to make a statement about your environmental cred. It is important
to note that the $33,950 price of our mid-range Soul EV includes some
premium content like leather seating, projector beam headlights, LED accent
lighting, privacy glass and 16-inch white w/matte satin-metal spoke alloy
wheels. Our test car’s leather seats have bold stitching and blue
piping that is listed as standard on the top trim EV+ model but our sticker
says this is standard on our mid-range car. Compare this to the
conventionally powered Soul with base prices ranging from $16,690 to
$21,090. A loaded top-trim conventional Soul will be around 25 grand.
>Soul EV is currently available in limited markets. After initial
launch in early 2015 in California, Georgia, Texas, Washington and Hawaii,
Kia just announced in late 2015 availability will soon expand to New York,
New Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland. Only nineteen dealers across these
last four states will be certified to sell and service the EV in the
Driving dynamics of the Soul EV had me grinning most of the time.
Firm suspension, good steering and that notorious electric motor torque
allows for spirited driving whenever we like. A good test is our tight
cloverleaf with short entrance ramp onto I-96. The firm suspension allows
us to push it around the last 20 degrees of the leaf and the torque gets us
well ahead of the trucks in the right lane conspiring to get in our way. In
spite of the SLRR tires we heard no squeal and felt no squirming.
Kia’s warranty covers the Soul EV for 5 years or 60,000 miles
and both the powertrain and the batteries for 10 years or 100,000 miles.
So, if you are in one of the areas where the Soul EV is offered and
if you like the idea of a full electric car you ought to take a look at
this one. In my case, I’m neither in the right area nor would any EV
suit my driving habits, but I sure enjoyed my time with this cute and
competent electric Korean.
ęSteve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights