Cars

Published on December 17th, 2015 | by Nicolas Zart

43

Kia Soul EV, The Mature EV (CleanTechnica Review)

December 17th, 2015 by  


CleanTechnica test drives the Kia Soul EV for a week, and reports back.

There was a time when electric vehicles covered just 60 miles before they had you running to the nearest outlet. Five years later, newer EVs boast an average of 90 miles of range, or more. The Kia Soul EV claims 90 miles, which we’ve tested for you over the space of a week. Our verdict is… Well, we’ll let you read on.

Base MSRP: $33,700.00
MSRP as tested: $37,065.00
Powertrain: 27 kWh battery, 109 HP, 210 lb-ft of torque
We reviewed the car for seven days and put 439 miles on it. We deliberately mimicked a normal commute of 35 miles a day, ten in city, the rest on highway.

Overview

The Kia Soul EV comes in with a hefty 27-kWh battery pack that will not send you chasing frantically after a charging station or plug every time you park. That is high praise for the company’s first electric attempt and shows how far these second-generation electric vehicles have come. We found the Kia Soul EV to be an easy EV to get along with, and probably a good first EV for many people.

KiaSoulEV1 KiaSoulEVDashboard

Feel & Driving Experience

The KIA Soul EV packs a lot of space. In fact, it is about as big as its internal combustion engine (ICE) sibling, and roomy enough to accommodate four people, with suitcases. We felt very comfortable in every seat, and the trunk had plenty of space. It even manages to keep the same trunk space and almost the same floorboard as the gas version.

The drive and feel of the Soul EV is similar to the gasoline version in terms of acceleration and handling. Maybe this is something we’d like to ask carmakers to change. EVs are different. Let us feel that wild torque. Most of us are looking for something different anyway. The different EV driving modes — Eco, normal, and sport — are on par with most other EVs. The Eco mode seriously restricts the torque. However, floor it, and it comes alive. The “normal” mode slightly boosts the torque, and the “sport” mode is the fun giddy torquey mode you’ll love.

Note that we noticed almost no battery drain under 7 MPH in cruising mode.

Kia Soul EV Infotainment

The KIA Soul EV’s infotainment impressed us with its ease of use and clear navigation display. Coupling our various iPhones to it was as easy as it should be. The parking assist and detection system worked as advertised, without overdoing it, a tendency we sometimes find on other cars. The cruise control worked flawlessly, maintaining the proper speed without unduly stressing the battery. Overall, the functions were well thought out and had anything we needed and wanted in an EV.

Strong Points

Advantages over other EVs are as follows: 1) This was the non-Tesla EV with the most range at the time of testing, only topped now by the 2016 Nissan LEAF. 2) The Soul EV has a very generous trunk and doesn’t sacrifice space or cargo room due to the battery pack. 3) It’s relatively generous battery pack, 27 kWh in capacity, provides 93+ miles of stress-free driving. 4) Self-reclining mirrors when parked are also cool.

KiaSoulEVInterior KiaSoulEVInteriorFull

Weaknesses

On the down side, there’s no trunk blind system — the inside of the trunk is left visible to the outside world. Additionally, its price is above average.

Conclusions

We feel the KIA Soul EV is a solid buy. KIA intrigued us originally with such a big the battery pack. Although we were skeptical, the result is an electric car that does everything well.

Related: Kia Soul EV Hits 4 More States, On Sale In 10 Now






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About the Author

Born and raised around classic cars of the 1920s, it wasn't until Nicolas drove one of the first Tesla Roadsters that the light went on. Eager to spread the news of that full torque he started writing in 2007. Since then, his passion led to cover renewable energy, test drives, podcasts, shoot pictures and film everything that is new and efficient. Nicolas offers an in-depth look at the e-mobility world through interviews and the many contacts he has forged in those industries. There are more solutions than obstacles.



  • Dragon

    The only thing that bugs me about Soul is they only sell it in 10 out of 50 states. It’s been a very difficult car to get in a lot of other countries as well. Also, stories abound about Kia dealers pushing people away from their EV offering. It’s hard to get excited about yet another big auto heavily dragging their feet on EVs, but I’m glad it’s out there providing more variety for those who can get their hands on one.

    On the plus side, every Kia Soul comes with a sexy hamster lady! At least that’s the impression I got from the advertising.

    • Good points Dragon. Kia also paints them in batches, so if you like the blue and white theme, at this moment, you;re out of luck. The same goes for the EV manufacturing quota.

      I also found the few dealerships I went to around Los Angeles were less than enthusiastic, but it’s their first EV. They need to get better trained at it.

  • Cameron Rogers

    We have a Kia Soul EV, and it does not have a Sport button and it does have a trunk blind. Otherwise you’re right, its a very solid and well-rounded car with no major flaws that we’ve noticed in a year of ownership. Just make a 200-mile one please…

    • Steve Grinwis

      I suspect it’s coming shortly….

    • Let us know if you ever want to post an owner review! 😀

      • hybridbear

        I’d be happy to do an owner review of our two EVs (2013 Ford Focus Electric & 2013 Ford Fusion Energi) if you’re ever interested.

        • Calamity_Jean

          I would be. When I told my husband that I wanted to get an electric car, he started agitating for a Focus Electric.

    • I’m sure the 200 mile version is right around the corner. The only other competition it could have would be the BYD e6, if it ever makes it here.

  • cendrizzi

    If we truly are going to see 200 mils for about the same price starting next year then this seems like a bad option. Not bad among the current options but hard to justify with so much better so soon.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I hope GM hurries up and introduces their Bolt. And Tesla is able to introduce the Mod3 in March. Those events should be game changers. Pretty much the end of the low range EV.

    • I guess we have to keep in mind that this is really a second EV generation and that the 150 mile range of next EVs will be the third. It’s difficult to pit those generation next to each other. In many ways, they’re like Apple computers. You buy one and don’t look at anything else the company offers for a few years, or else you get instant regret for not having waited longer.

  • JH

    Still waiting for the model 3. Or the bolt. The range us simply not there yet.

    • I guess it depends on what you need out of range.

      This truly was the first car, outside of a Tesla that didn’t send me looking for a charger every time I used it. I feel it is a very reasonable car for any commuter, as long as you don’t have to drive 100 miles.

      • JH

        Yes as a special case car it is great. No doubt about that. For the most part it would be enough for me to. But not for *all* aspects. So I wait until I get a car where the level of compromise is so low it is negligible.

        • I tried to emulate a real life scenario by driving around 40+ miles every day in traffic and non-traffic conditions. It was the first time I had an EV like this, i.e. non-Tesla that could handle two days without recharging. I feel in this case it would be good enough for most people. I sure feel sorry for anyone who drives 100 to go back and forth to work.

          • JH

            Co.muting is not the o ly reason to have a car. Every third month or so I go on l8nger trips. I don’t want the hassle and cost of renting or owning to cars. My use case is far from uncommon. So I will wait 6ntil the eV is a tally covering my needs. The leaf might get there with leaf ii and a good push on charging networks. So far, as far as I am concerned there is only one manufacturer of eV that is plug in compatible with the use case of a conventional car.i guess il have to wait some more…

          • That’s the case with most cars, I feel. I still haven’t found one car that suits all my needs. That’s why most EVs are perfect for commuting back and forth to work and the occasional trip to the store. As far as longer distance, plenty of EV owners manage it with some calculation. I understand where you’re coming though.

          • JH

            At the rate things are going I don’t expect to wait that much longer. Perhaps about 3-4 years which is a good thing.

          • I think you;re about right. We will see unveilings sooner, but as to mass manufacturing, the first real mass manufactured and fairly affordable 200 mile range EVs are going to be right before 2020. Who knows, maybe Faraday Future will pull out a rabbit out of its hat!

  • Martams

    Only seats 4? We’re going to make a big issue out of this!!!

    • Joshua Burstyn

      Ours seems to seat five?

  • Kyle Field

    Nice review Nicolas! Very thorough and great to get a video tour of the car. I agree with your assessment overall – I was very impressed at the car which really highlighted just how low my expectations were going in to the initial test drive.

    My one sticking point with it was the price. Compared to the i3 or even the 2016 Leaf, I would have a tough time selecting the Kia. It just didn’t feel like a $35k car to me.

    • Curious to see your review as well.

    • Great point Kyle and thanks for your comment. I think Kia planned the car for a long time and somewhat got delayed. I would assume the slap on the hand for the mileage discrepancy with their car. I remember Kia talking about it for a while. On paper, it looked like a killer, but BMW came to the market and kind of stole the show. I’m not sure I would compare it to an i3, no a LEAF in the end. It sits in between, as the i3 sits between a LEAF and a Tesla.

      What I really liked about it was the range.

  • gerry

    I will stick to my BMWi3 if you dont mind……..

    • Kyle Field

      I agree – given the options, the i3 is a great car especially given that it is only $6k more than the Soul for $33.7k (before rebates, US pricing). i would even one up that and look for a used i3 and get it for less than the Soul EV after rebates.

      • Steve Grinwis

        Isn’t the range of an i3 less?

        • Kyle Field

          Yes, slightly. But to drive a technological marvel that’s so much nicer…vs a Kia? Hmm…

          • Steve Grinwis

            Don’t knock a Kia, simply because it’s a Kia.

            It drives fine, it performs well, and it looks cute, while having a relatively long range, good winter performance, and all the normal electric car features! Oh! And it’s cheaper to boot! Don’t dump on it, after they checked all the boxes that we as eco consumers want!

          • Kyle Field

            Comparing a Kia to a BMW…I’m sorry but the brand comes into play in a big way (for me). Most importantly from a quality and drive style standpoint…but also just the image. If you roll up in a Kia, that is not the same as a BMW. Not to mention the i3 has the most frame in the history of cars with its advanced carbon fiber life module. See this for more on my love story: http://cleantechnica.com/2015/10/01/most-advance-vehicle-on-the-planet-bmw-i3/

          • Steve Grinwis

            More like you’re rolling up in BMW’s ugly red-headed stepchild.

            It may say BMW on the label, but it doesn’t share an ounce of pedigree with the cars BMW is famous for.

            Now, that doesn’t mean it’s not a nice car, but any car nut will remind you that you aren’t driving a ‘real’ BMW.

            And in terms of quality, Kia consistently beats BMW in reliability, every year, on virtually every model, with electronics being a pretty consistent downfall of the BMW brand… which is pretty much the entire car on an i3…

            But hey, if what you really care about is the label on the box…

          • Kyle Field

            To each their own. Let me know how that Kia works out.

          • Steve Grinwis

            I don’t have a Kia, I have a Smart ED. How does that rank in your list of prestigious brands? Given how I believe you are US based, you probably think it’s a piece of shit.

            The i3 is a fine car. I just dislike these outdated brand loyalties that have very little basis in fact, especially when combined with this attitude that everyone seems to have of ‘you bought the wrong car’ when it comes to niche cars.

            Why can’t we appreciate cars without ephemeral comparisons that have almost nothing to do with reality?

          • Kyle Field

            I’m not a fan of BMW’s gas cars. My wife had a convertible and it was a pos. The i3 is an engineering marvel. Kia has done nothing of the sort. It looks fine, buy nothing in the same category as the i3.

          • Dragon

            Gotta hang with Steve on this one. 55/100 repair trips on i3 vs 33/100 on Soul (no info on Soul EV):
            http://www.truedelta.com/BMW-i3/reliability-1218/vs-Soul-855

            I guess there’s a “mystique” around BMW, and you might get more admiring onlookers with BMW (or you might not because the i3 really looks weird compared to most BMWs) but personally I never factor the admiration of onlookers into my car-buying decisions.

            Maybe i3 has more whiz-bang features? Whiz-bang features may be cool, but they reduce reliability, as Tesla is proving. I seem to get a steering-wheel display freeze or spontaneous reboot once every week or two and the techs just say it happens.

          • Stephen McCormack

            The i3 is technically a good car though Kia is more appealing because of the better range. Also, the Kia Soul EV is just a more appealing car regardless of the brand. More conventional maybe but more love-able. The sum of the i3, with all its good design, does not quite add up to the personality of the Soul EV – in my opinion.
            Also, I don’t doubt the comittement of either Brand to the EV cause. The Kia is stocked with SK Innovations batteries and it is not impossible that the Koreans might make a rush to the holy grail of 200 mile range EV sometime soon. Lets see.

          • Kyle Field

            It will be interesting…that much is certain 🙂

      • There’s a $26,999 used i3 on CARFAX that I can’t stop looking at. 😛

        • Kyle Field

          That’s what I’m talking about. Ok, as of today, I have to officially change my answer. “I’ll pass, thanks” 😀 😀

        • I can’t tell you how many of my friends are getting an i3. They’re all coming from BMW, Audi, and have no qualms getting one for around town. I think BMW struck the right chord with it.

      • It’s funny, I still can’t pit it against an i3. While the range is there, the driving dynamics and interior feel wasn’t anything like the i3.

        I think the market segment for both are very different and talks to a different population. I can see the allure of both.

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