By BOB GRITZINGER | Contributing Editor Toyota may have finally…
The week I spent with the 2015 Kia Soul EV had to be the coldest, most blustery week of this winter season in D.C. Living in a metropolitan area, just because you own a house does not mean you have a garage for your car. I was nervous about how well the Kia would do outdoors given the conditions–ice, snow and bitterly cold winds.
The Kia Soul EV was relegated to a driveway spot and plugged into a standard 140V outlet located on the corner of our house. We had a winter storm that week but I wanted to see how the Soul EV would respond. And while it’s certainly not a car made for snow and ice, it is perfectly capable of being a great errands-runner and everyday vehicle–so long as you live in California.
Currently, California is the only market where Kia’s all-electric cute-mobile is offered. This is because California has set more aggressive targets for the number of EV’s that are on their roads (known as the Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) program–or less politely–mandate), resulting in manufacturers producing what the industry calls “compliance cars”. This explains why consumers see hydrogen, compressed natural gas and some electric vehicles being introduced in that state as opposed to the rest of the nation. However, Autoblog reports that Kia is planning to announce where the Kia Soul EV will soon be available at the New York Auto Show this April.
Kia’s Soul EV is stacked with what consumers want
Let’s begin our journey by highlighting the features that come on this entry-level, “totes adorbs” electric car. Heated seats–both front and rear–plus a heated steering wheel are more than creature comforts. During the sub-zero-temps we had with the Soul EV in our possession, they were crucial. We didn’t miss the panoramic sunroof that comes on the standard Soul, but that opinion could change when the sun is high in the sky.
Popular TV program Motorweek recently awarded the Kia Soul EV its Drivers’ Choice Award. “The Kia Soul EV is the perfect EV. It is totally practical with plenty of room for adults and everyday cargo,” noted John Davis, host and executive producer, MotorWeek. “It has more power and range compared to other affordable all-electric vehicles. Plus, its funky style makes driving the Kia Soul EV really cool.”
My mom was in town for a visit, or what I like to lovingly call a “quest to make sure I keep my act together”, which means we are on the go! She ensures that we cross off all those pesky to-do’s that never seem to get done. There’s something both exhausting and magical about what gets accomplished when she visits.
Anyway, I wanted to drive the Soul EV as much as possible while she was here to get a real sense of whether this car is realistic for everyday use–well, at least for someone like me who tends not to go far. (I live in an urban-dweller’s bubble where pretty much everything I need is within a 5-10 mile radius.)
Despite the EPA’s estimated 93 miles of range, we got ours to 67 miles on a full charge. This could have been due to the chilly temps or the fact that we only charged via standard outlet. (Side note: I don’t claim to be an EV expert–I’m still learning quite a bit from the early adopters out there who are generous in sharing their knowledge. Thank you EV enthusiasts!) Regardless, the Soul EV covered all of my needs for toting around town.
What do early adopters think about the Kia Soul EV?
I’m part of a Facebook group for BMW i3 (and generally EV) fans, and I shared my experience with others there. They were impressed as with the 67 miles of range, particularly with the fact that the Kia’s battery did not lose any charge overnight, unplugged, with temperatures hovering around 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The BMW, according to some owners part of the Facebook group, does not fare as well in that regard. One user reported that he gets 58 miles on his i3 BEV with preconditioning. Our Soul EV was not preconditioned overnight.
The community had several positive comments about the car’s design and aesthetic, but it is a fan group of the BMW i3, so I don’t think my experience made any conquest sales. 😉
Kia’s Soul EV comes with charging compatibility for at-home charging (on 120V outlet), office charging (likely 240V charging) and DC fast charging at any of the thousands compatible stations across the country.
Kia Soul EV Charging Times
- Longest Time = 120V / standard outlet – Overnight charging needed
- Not Bad = 240V outlet – Need 4-5 hours to a full charge
- Good = DC Fast Charger – 30 minutes to a 80% charge
A blue light glowed through my dining room window as the Kia charged patiently outside. Turns out that’s the car’s eStatus charge indicator, visible through the windshield, showing that it’s getting juiced up. Once it’s fully charged, then all three of the indicators remain lighted blue.
The Kia Soul EV Experience
The exterior design of the Soul EV does not stray far from the original, but its futuristic touches bring a sense of unique style to this iteration. I really liked the clean center stack featuring a high-gloss finish–what Kia says gives the dash a 3D look.
Rolling through town, we felt almost as hip as Kia’s famous hamsters thanks to the six-speaker stereo system pumping in our favorite tunes from Satellite radio.
The interior is well appointed for the price point. It doesn’t feel like Kia “cheaped out”. It’s no luxury vehicle, but the seats are comfortable, providing enough support, and a good driving position was easy to achieve. Keeping eco-conscious buyers in mind, Kia has wrapped its seats in a plant-based material that uses eco-friendly items such as sugar cane and corn.
The driving experience is also on-par with other electric cars I’ve driven. Acceleration is smooth and the car feels comfortable at highway speeds, including making its way to 55-65 miles per hour. My passengers were surprised with the amount of head and leg room. They especially appreciated the thought that Kia put into making sure their corners of the car were as comfortable and convenient as mine.
What’s under the floorboards?
Kia’s stacked its all-electric compact with a larger-than-average 27 kWh lithium-ion battery, which gets an estimated EPA 93 miles of range and 105 MPGe. The starting price is $34,500, but federal and California tax incentives sweeten the deal, bringing the price closer to the mid-$20,000 range.
Leases for the 2015 Soul EV are currently competitive; however, consider the impact of forfeiting the sales tax incentive by taking this route.
If you’ve followed Kia as a brand, then you’ll already be familiar with the company’s pride in its manufacturer warranties. The Soul EV is no exception to the rule: it’s protected under the same 10-year / 100,000 mile warranty. That EV System Warranty covers the vehicle’s electric motor, gear drive unit, battery pack, electric power control unit (EPCU), onboard charger and all internal parts. The warranty will also carryover to future owners within that window.
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