The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

HEELS ON WHEELS: 2015 KIA SOUL EV REVIEW


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2015 Kia Soul EV

Katrina Tweets: The 2015 Kia Soul EV's zero to 62 mph in 11.2 seconds...92 mile range and it's fun take on cubic dimensions makes sense for a variety of daily challenges, from parking to packing.

HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE SOUL VEHICLE
Reinventing itself once again is the Soul EV, combining cubic function with an all-electric motor boasting a fuel economy equivalent of 105 miles-per-gallon and a range of 92 miles before your next charge. Coming off a redesign just last year, the Soul looks and behaves a lot savvier, and certainly greener with this one-hundred percent emissions-free powertrain.

I drove a 2015 Kia Soul EV with an electric motor powered by a 27-kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery able to generate 109 horsepower and 210 pound-feet of torque. Available in just two trims – a base and the more equipped “plus” – my “plus” test drive featured the following standard features: leatherette upholstery; heated and ventilated front seats; steering wheel with mounted controls; USB and auxiliary input jacks; Bluetooth; UVO eServices technology; rear camera display; fog lights; Parking Assist; and eighteen-inch alloy wheels. Total vehicle price as described came to $35,700.

The Kia Soul EV’s compact style and electric motor competes best with the Fiat 500e, Toyota Prius Plug-in, Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Spark EV.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: Additional redesigns from the previous model year included stretching the body for more rear legroom. The interior also adopted plushier and more tech-savvy interior features; the EV’s leather upholstery is done in grey with electric blue stitching detail. The energy-efficient Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) supervision cluster allows for an easy read on your energy levels. Unfortunately the EV model cannot opt for some of the funnier Soul equipment, like the Sun and Sound Package (panoramic sunroof, eight-inch navigation touchscreen, upgraded Infinity audio system). For a liftgate with no power opening, it folds down quite easily at the lightest touch, and cargo gets clever with an under-the-floor cubic divider. Exclusive colors can give the Soul a style of its own that can better compete with the Fiat and Mini.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The 2015 Kia Soul is a Top Safety Pick with The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for ratings of “Good” in all crash-test areas. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has yet rated the 2015 Kia Soul EV. Safety standards include dual front seat and full side airbags; anti-lock brakes with brake assist; ESC; electronic-brake distribution; traction control; tires pressure monitoring; front and rear crumple zones; side impact beams; LATCH; front three-point seat belts with force imitators; and Hill-start Assist Control.

Cost Issues: I’d say the Kia Soul EV is a bit pricey at a base cost of $33,700. The Toyota Prius Plug-in starts at $29,990; the Chevrolet Spark at $27,645; and the Nissan Leaf at $21,510. (Compare All EV's) (Compare All EV's) Sales are limited to the states of California, Oregon, Maryland, New York, and New Jersey.

Activity & Performance Ability: The Soul has traditionally offered a ride that feels comfortable around town and on the highways, but maybe not so much a longer road trip. While rear visibly is usually prized characteristic with these boxy cars, the rear-quarter windows don’t offer much.

Faster than the Nissan Leaf, the Soul EV goes from zero to 62 mph in 11.2 seconds with surprising authority. The battery has been nicely centered so as to increase stability at tight turns, but overall the Soul suffers from a steering wheel radius is not as generous as anticipated. It’s easy to charge in a 120-volt outlet or at a DC fast-charge station with a full battery rated to deliver 92 miles of distance.

The Green Concern: The Soul’s gasoline-powered trims have not yielded the best result, so Kia takes a real step up in fuel economy with the EV model bringing 120-city and 92-highway for a combined 105 miles-per-gallon equivalent.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
Going to an all-electric vehicle – be it the Kia Soul EV or another competitor – means a lifestyle change. Although pricier than similar vehicles, the Soul’s fun take on cubic dimensions can make sense for a variety of daily challenges, from parking to packing.

©2015 Katrina Ramser