Highlights: The Kia Soul EV has a fuel range of 93 miles, one of the best for a non-premium vehicle in the segment. The Kia Soul EV is only available in select geographical areas.
Test vehicle’s MSRP: $36,625 (Base Model starts at $34,525)
Current Federal Tax Credit: $7,500 (Visit fueleconomy.gov for the latest details.)
Seating Capacity: 5
Standard Safety Features: air bags; electronic brake distribution; electronic stability control; a rear view camera; a tire mobility kit; and a tire pressure monitoring system
Standard Equipment (Base Model): 16-inch wheels; cloth seats; 2-level heated front seats; keyless ignition starter system; keyless door opener system; a manually operated tilt/telescopic steering wheel; a rear privacy glass; a heated steering wheel; steering wheel mounted audio controls; a navigation system; an energy usage monitor and a 5-year subscription with UVO – electric vehicle services (charging stations and the like); a level one and level two charging port; a 480-volt DC fast charger port; and a regenerative braking system
(Plus Model): leather-like seats; 3-level heated and ventilated front seats; park assist sensors; power folding outside mirrors; an automatic rearview mirror; heated rear seats; passenger seat side tray; and projector fog lights
Options: Floor mats
Suspension System: Front- MacPherson Rear– Torsion Beam Axle
Standard Audio: a 6-speaker AM/FM audio system with satellite radio
Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
EV Battery Warranty: 10 years or 100,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty: 10 years or 100,000 miles
Bluetooth Compatibility: Yes
Recommended Fuel: Regular
Standard Electric Mileage Per Gallon: 120-city/92-hwy
Other Trim Level: Base Model
iPod and USB ports: Yes
What’s New: The Kia Soul EV is an all-new addition to the lineup.
Pros: The expressive Soul, with its boxy shaped design, is now available in limited markets around the country in an all-electric configuration. Like the handful of other electric vehicles currently on the market, the Kia Soul EV is priced at a premium. Even with the premium price, the federal government kicks in about $7,500, while some states also offer tax credits, making it a no-brainer for folks to consider going green. Staying true to Kia’s roots, the Soul EV continues to be a value package, especially, when pitted against its nearest competitors: the Nissan Leaf, the Ford Focus EV and the VW e-Golf.
Unlike its competitors, the Soul EV offers one of the longest driving range in the non-premium segment, provides more content and a longer overall warranty. In fact, the Soul EV, which is available in only two trims, is equipped with two charge ports, one for the expedient DC charger, which charges the vehicle to about 70 percent of capacity in less than 30 minutes, and the universal 120v (and 240v) for the home outlet. Unlike some of the competitors, there is no additional charge for the two ports.
Furthermore, with the exception of the Kia Soul EV being totally electric and a few cosmetic changes, the vehicle mimics the gasoline driven Soul, which just received a 2015 J. D. Power Initial Quality award. Like the gasoline Soul, the all-electric Soul provides large, easy-to-navigate gauges and screens. And with this being an electric vehicle, the Kia provides up-to-date data with everything from the nearest charging centers to information on the charging range to how long it takes to recharge, depending on the type of charger.
In our eyes, the Kia Soul EV engineering team left no stone unturned, even to the point of providing a switch on the instrument panel, which only keeps the driver’s area cozy and comfortable, without wasting energy cooling off the entire cabin, when no other occupants are present. Also Kia has added a separate ECO mode, for driver’s to utilize, maximizing energy efficiency, while driving.
Moreover, with Kia offering two trim packages and there being only a $2,000 price difference, we would recommend stepping-up to the premium package. The upper-end package, which was in our review vehicle, consisted of such additional features as automatic flip folding exterior mirrors to ventilated front seats.
Lastly, going all electric means there are no more oil changes, no more concerns about the fluctuating gas prices, no more engine replacements, no more engine maintenance and lastly, no more oil leaks in the driveway. Oh yes and although the vehicle pumps out 105 horses, the power is still more than adequate for most drivers (even in the extreme heat with the air at full blast).
Cons: Like with all electric vehicles, we can’t wait until Kia offers an extended driving range, beyond 93 mpge. In fact, while using the expedient 480v DC charger, we were only able to charge up to 70 percent of our driving range capacity, as opposed to the standard claim of 80 percent. Thus, this left us with a maximum driving range of 65 miles per electric charge.
Another drawback is that it takes up to 24 hours to recharge the vehicle, using the 120v outlet. We recommend investing in the 240v outlet for the home charger, reducing the charging time to five to six hours.
Besides our charging concerns, the Kia Soul EV lacked a CD player and a sunroof. In fact, the features aren’t available on the option list. Yes, this is a true futuristic vehicle. We realize by not having the sunroof, this aids in maximizing the efficiency of the Soul EV. A sunroof is available on the gasoline Soul.
Finally, the price of battery could be out of reach for most consumers. Fortunately, Kia offers a 10-year or 100,000-mile warranty, whichever comes first. After the battery warranty expires, one can expect to pay a few thousand dollars to replace.
The Verdict: While the market for all-electric vehicles is still lukewarm, we were sold on the Kia Soul EV. With the federal government offering a $7,500 tax credit and states like Georgia temporarily offering tax credits up to $5,000, going green is quite enticing to say the least. The Kia Soul EV takes everything that has made the gasoline Soul popular and rolled it into an all-electric vehicle. The vehicle offers a 10 year warranty, too.
In fact, when we stopped by a Nissan dealership to recharge the vehicle, using the high voltage DC charger, we heard from current Leaf owners that they were in awe over the Soul EV. They commented on everything from the high quality appearance of the leather-like interior to the overall layout of the airy and roomy cabin.
So, for those, who are ready to kick the gas habit, the Kia Soul EV is the best value on the market. In case, you’re not totally ready to rely on an electric vehicle, we recommend holding on to a gas vehicle and buying the Soul EV as a second vehicle. Once the infrastructure is in place to accommodate electric vehicles throughout the country, we can definitely see this vehicle as truly being in our near future.
Competition: Ford Focus EV, Nissan Leaf and VW E-Golf
Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to www.JeffCars.com. Follow him @ Twitter/JeffCars.