When Kia launched the new Soul EV in California last year, our first look told us that this Soul model was going to be exceptional because it retained all of the styling elements of a regular Kia Soul plus all of the features and capabilities that has made the gasoline powered Soul urban crossover successful – and now it was an eco-friendly plug-in electric too.
We were disappointed that the initial distribution for the Soul EV last year was only in California as we felt it would resonate with consumers all across the U.S. based on its lineage to the current Soul and now enhanced by its new eco-friendly power train.
Now we learn the Kia Soul EV is quietly moving into new markets in 2015. Kia has extended distribution into Georgia. And, very soon the Soul EV will be available at Kia select retailers in Texas, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii where consumer demand for all-electric vehicles has been growing and where substantial charging networks are becoming available in major markets.
We are in Texas – Austin to boot (pardon the pun). Here in Texas, we are no strangers to plug-in electric vehicles as considerable demand exists in Dallas, Houston and Austin/San Antonio markets with metro markets having substantial urban infrastructure available – and growing.
So, when Kia showed up in our driveway a week ago with a brand new Kia Soul EV for us to test drive, we were delighted –both to be able to drive it for the week and to know that it was soon going to be available here.
Our test 2015 Soul EV + (Plus) came in the two tone Clear White over Caribbean Blue exterior with the Gray Leather with Blue Piping interior. The MSRP for our Soul EV Plus test vehicle was $35,700 and, with delivery and the Soul EV floor mats, it priced at $36,625.
For the record – the Soul EV is also offered in a Base trim with an MSRP of $33,700. Both are subject to the currently available federal tax rebate of $7,500 making the net pricing for the Base $26,200 and the + (Plus) $28,200 – both before freight, any port installed accessories or state and local rebates that may also be available.
Kia Soul EV Stands Out
The 2015 Kia Soul EV stands out from the rest because – from our perspective – it starts and ends with the classic Kia Soul. While other manufacturers have created either a stand-alone plug-in or have significantly altered an existing model to create an all-electric version, Kia created the Soul EV in the image, styling, comfort, and performance framework of the standard Soul. Simply, with a Kia Soul, you can now get one that is a plug-in electric as well as one powered by gasoline – and not a hybrid.
Inspired by the 2012 Kia Track’ster concept, the EV presents some unique features that make the EV standout. Retaining the iconic square-shouldered broad stance of the original Soul – Kia added exclusive EV design treatments like the signature two-tone exterior color treatment that is similar to that seen on the Track’ster, a front fascia with a larger grille area to accommodate the battery charging ports, color accent trim in the front and rear fascias, projector headlights, LED positioning lamps, and LED tail lights.
Of course, “Eco Electric” fender badging replaces the “Soul” fender garnish found on the gasoline-powered car, and the Soul EV gets its own set of distinctive 16-inch alloy wheels wrapped with specially engineered Super Low Rolling Resistance (SLRR) tires that offer 10 percent improvement on standard low rolling resistance tires – to improve range.
The highly functional interior design of the basic Soul continues in the Soul EV through the use of premium materials, the circular design elements and the significantly quiet, very roomy, cabin. The Soul EV sets itself apart with bright white accent trim on the center console, instrument panel and door panels. Our Soul + (Plus) came with the optional Gray leather with blue piping seating that also accented the steering wheel and center console armrest.
Standard Soul EV amenities include Navigation with eight-inch screen, a 6.6kW on-board charger, a standard household charging port (120- and 220-volt), CHAdeMO DC fast charge port (480-volt), Rear Camera Display, Bluetooth hands free operation, power windows, power driver’s seat, cruise control, and an exclusive HVAC system designed to extend driving range by minimizing energy draw. Other features include things like low-speed Pedestrian Warning System (to alert pedestrians as the Soul EV has almost no motor noise).
Also included are dual 12-volt outlets, heated steering wheel, heated front seats, electric power steering, power heated outside mirrors, tire pressure monitoring, electronic parking brake, Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC), Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Vehicle Stability Management (VSM).
The Soul + (Plus) upgrades the standard two-tone cloth seats to leather, increases seating heat levels settings to three and adds ventilation (3-levels) plus adds heating (2-levels) to the rear seats. Other Soul + features include an additional 12-volt power outlet in the cargo area, Park Assist with front and rear sensors, Aero Windshield Wipers, projection fog lamps and power folding outside mirrors.
The front-wheel drive Soul EV is powered by a 109-hp electric motor, producing 210 lb.-ft. of instant torque. The Soul EV has an EPA estimated range rating of 93 miles with an MPGe of 92 miles highway and 120 miles city for a combined mileage of 105 miles which is best in its segment. Top speed for the Soul EV is 90 mph.
The Lithium Ion Polymer battery is designed flat and is located beneath the floor yielding a lower center of gravity and maximizing room in the cabin and cargo spaces. There are three levels of charging available through two charging ports. Using the one charging port, the Soul EV can be plugged into a standard 120-volt outlet or a conventional 240-volt EV charger. The CHAdeMo DC fast-charging port enables quick charging at 480-volts from an appropriate source.
Recharging times vary from 24 hours for a fully depleted battery using a standard 120v outlet to under five hours when plugged into a 240v outlet. An 80-percent charge can be achieved from empty in as little as 33 minutes with a 50 kW-output DC fast charger.
In an effort to maximize efficiency and range, the Soul EV uses Kia’s third-generation regenerative braking system to capture up to 12 percent of the car’s kinetic energy, which is fed back into the battery while the Soul EV is coasting and braking.
And, available at no cost for the first five years of ownership, the Kia UVO EV Services uses an embedded connectivity solution powered by the Verizon network and an integral smartphone app to provide Soul EV owners with an innovative, real-time, in-vehicle connectivity experience that includes EV Charging Station Locator, navigation and a host of added convenience features including management of the charging and vehicle startup functions for added convenience and also improve range through effective power management.