2015 Kia Soul EV: The nearly perfect electric vehicle


LOS ANGELES, March. 26, 2015 — Not only is the 2015 Kia Soul EV perhaps the most affordable, roomy, utilitarian, fun-to-drive, fast-charging electric vehicle (EV) on the road today, but this zero emissions urban hipster car will now soon be available in six states: California, Oregon, Washington, Georgia, Texas and Hawaii. Come along on a 2015 Kia Soul EV road test.

2015 Soul EV +

Kia recently announced that its Kia Soul EV will be available at select dealerships by June in five more states (other than California): Oregon, Washington, Georgia, Texas and Hawaii. It’s no surprise Kia is expanding its only EV into more territory as this “clean mobility” Soul has won many awards including “best eco-friendly vehicle” in MotorWeek’s Drivers’ Choice Awards and U.S. News & World Report’s “best cars for families” in its hatchback category.

Our bright blue road test 2015 Kia Soul EV won our daughter’s “best car ever!” award, and that’s saying something as this smart 11-year-old girl has had the opportunity to ride in hundreds of vehicles practically since birth. In fact — on our week-long road test in LA’s posh Hollywood Hills — we became completely enamored with the Soul EV, not just for the roomy interior and overall excellent performance, but also for its way cool infotainment system, driving range (about 105 miles of combined highway and city riding) and fast charging capabilities.

2015 Soul EV

The 2015 Kia Soul EV comes in two trim levels: Base and Plus. The base model costs $33,700 (or $249 a month lease) while the “Plus” is just two thousand more dollars at $35,700 (both prices not including the federal tax rebate of $7,500 and potential state incentives).

Standard Features
The 2015 Kia Soul EV is equipped with loads of advanced technology including an eight-inch infotainment screen (as well as hands-free navigation), rear view camera, Bluetooth capability, cruise control, power driver’s seat, power windows, air conditioning, 16-inch alloy wheels, a 6.6kW on board charger with “direct current” (DC) fast charging port and UVO EV (real-time battery) infotainment and smartphone app services. The “Plus” trim adds heated rear seats, fog lamps, power-folding outside mirrors, leather-trimmed seats and “tri-level” heated seats and ventilation for front passengers.

Outside, the Soul EV looks just like gas-powered Soul vehicles. Surprisingly, our road test model made us smile every time we walked up to it for an all-electric ride. The broad stance and squareness of the Soul definitely give it funky, modern appeal and all in a good way. For now, the Kia Soul EV is only available in four colors: “Caribbean” blue (white roof), “shadow” black (“inferno” red roof), “titanium” gray and “clear” white.

The interior is where the Kia Soul EV really shines. First off, Kia’s build quality is excellent and it shows. Secondly, the Soul’s roomy cabin seems like it was built with families or busy, active people in mind. Big windows, comfortable seats (with blue or black saddle stitching), lots of handy bins and all the technology the modern family could desire is built right into this hot hatch. The Soul EV even gets a little more polish than its gas-powered brethren with standout gleaming white metal accents on the center console, instrument and door panels. And did you know Kia has received the very first ever “automotive environmental claim validation” for using bio-based organic content (for interior plastics)? How cool (and green) is that? Lastly, rear seat legroom (36 inches) is comfortable even for tall adults, especially when compared to other EVs such as Fiat 500e and Chevy Spark.

2015 Soul EV

Truly, Kia Soul’s infotainment screen is bad ass. Surrounded by a shiny white metal plate, this huge screen with crisp graphics comes standard and also includes a complimentary, five-year subscription to Kia’s new “UVO2 eServices Package.” Not only does UVO2 deliver hands-free navigation services, but it also provides loads of valuable information for EV drivers such as real-time battery status, distance to empty, preset charging times, charging level ratios and air and heat “preconditioning.” And if that isn’t enough, the Kia Soul also comes with Sirius XM and its Travel Link 6, which broadcasts traffic and weather reports, sports scores, stock information and movie times. And that’s not all. UVO2 is compatible with Apple’s Siri “Eyes Freed” for local searches (powered by Google) without touching your smartphone. UVO2 also lets Soul EV owners download apps such as Yelp, iHeart Radio and Sound Hound.

2015 Kia Soul EV Central Console

Cargo Room

In some EVs, the battery pack can take up much of the cargo space. However, the Kia Soul EV has the exact same cargo space (18.8 cu. ft. with rear seats in the up position) as its internal combustion version (because the battery packs are located under the passenger seats). There’s even an easy-to-lift tray under the cargo area to store the Soul EV’s 120-volt portable charger.

So far, the 2015 Kia Soul EV sounds like the perfect zero emissions urban crossover vehicle right? Not as zippy as Fiat’s 500e nor VW’s e-Golf, the Soul EV certainly has much less quick acceleration from a full stop than its top two competitors. In fact, the 2015 Kia Soul EV hits 0-60 mph in a dismal 12 seconds with a top speed of only about 90 mph. On our test in one of LA’s most urban areas, we found initial acceleration to be a bit slow when pulling out onto boulevards filled with fast-moving traffic. Still, this funky family ride does provide loads of driving pleasure with its tight suspension and responsive handling and steering. What about braking? In most EVs, “regenerative braking,” which feeds energy back into the batter when coasting and braking, can be rather annoying. Kia has dealt with this by offering four “drive mode combinations” on its Soul EV so drivers can vary the “regen” strength based on their need for more driving range or just plain driving fast.

After testing almost every production EV on the market today, we have determined the 2015 Kia Soul is definitely the most fast and most easy-to-charge EV so far. Kia smartly located its charging ports on the Soul EV’s front fascia rather in the rear of the car like most gas-powered cars. Why is this important? Because most public chargers are located in parking spaces, so the easiest way to charge is to have the ports as close to the front hood as possible. Plus, the Soul EV’s charge ports include a Level 1 (120 volt), Level 2 (240 volt) and the ultimate Level 3 (480 volt “direct current” DC or CHAdeMO). Kia claims it only takes 33 minutes to charge the Soul EV up to 80 percent with a Level 3 charger. Although we were unable to perform this test, we did charge the Soul EV at a public 240-volt station every morning and were pleased with how this EV gave us another 40 or so miles of driving in just a few hours.

2015 Soul EV +

Smartphone App
Like its competition, the 2015 Kia Soul EV comes with a smartphone app. The app will not only let drivers find nearby charging stations, but also provides real-time charging information.

Ready to ditch the violent petro dollar for an all-electric vehicle? The 2015 Kia Soul EV could be the perfect choice for those who need a quick charging, fun-to-drive, comfortable, roomy vehicle that’s full of the latest technology and goes the distance when it comes to driving range.

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Sheryll Alexander
LA-based Sheryll Alexander is a professional writer, editor at large, extreme social media journalist and media consultant. She occupies a global tell-the-truth, Earth-first news service on her Facebook and Twitter accounts. Alexander is a longtime lifestyles writer, travel editor, automotive journalist, professional road test reviewer, food writer and restaurant critic.