2015 Kia Soul EV Review: Delivery And Day One

 

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On Tuesday, a fresh, bright-white 2015 Kia Soul EV was dropped off in my driveway, brought by custom flatbed from New York City to my humble abode in central Connecticut. Coated in a bright white paint but minus the conventional grille its gas-powered stablemate wears, my wife remarked how it looked like a guy in a surgical mask. Can’t say I disagree with her there.

If you’re a regular reader, you know that this is our second go-around with the Soul EV, after Chicago’s deep, deep winter meant Gas2 alum Jo Borras didn’t have much range or road to test it out on. With warmer weather and no snow to contend with, we’re hoping to give the Soul EV a fairer assessment this time around.

The Kia Soul EV boasts an official EPA rating of 93 miles per charge, more than any other BEV except the Toyota RAV4 EV and Tesla Model S. So you might imagine my surprise when the Soul EV proudly proclaimed that with a fully-charged battery, I had about 78 miles of range to play with.

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Alrighty then. Since I don’t have a home charger, my only charging options are a 110-volt outlet through my kitchen window, or using the freshly-installed 240-volt chargers at the college down the street. But I’m only going to charge it when it needs it, and for my first outing to target a few minutes after the Soul EV’s arrival, the two-mile journey hardly warranted an overnight plug-in.

First impressions on the outside…eh. I like the Kia Soul, and putting the charging point where the grille should be isn’t a terrible idea. But in white…eh. It looks a lot softer than the bright yellow Kia Soul I test drove awhile back. I was hoping the blue one I see in all the promo pictures was going to show up, but all my guy friends have let me know that my sexuality is probably being questioned by those that see my driving it.

Cracks about my orientation aside, I’ve always considered interior attractiveness and quality more important than what the rest of the world has to look at, and I’m a big fan of the changes Kia made to the Soul EV. The leather seats remind me of Super Nintendo cartridges, and soft touch dash begs to be caressed. Instead of an ignition or start button, the push start system says “Power” instead, again taking me back to my days as a video game enthusiast.

Reminds me of Playstation 2.

Kia made great use of its UVO infotainment system in the Soul EV as well, with my wife quickly poking through all the information screens that take a lot of the anxiety out of range anxiety. The GPS system has been integrated to show just how far the battery can take you, an energy usage screen shows how many kW the motor, climate control, and other electric accessories are sucking up at any given time, and an easy-to-find screen not only shows the nearest charging station location, but even adds a little arrow to indicate exactly where it is.

First impressions…I’m feeling it, which I’d better be with a starting price of $33,700. Then I started counting buttons.

Kia has a button problem, and it really pushes my buttons. The steering-wheel alone has over a dozen different buttons, with dozens more spread out between the HVAC and infotainment system…and many of those buttons have buttons in the infotainment screens as well. Kia must have stock in some third-party button supplier, because it’s just gone button-crazy on the Soul EV...a problem I complained about in the conventional Kia Soul a year and a half ago.

Finally, after all that reading, you probably want to know how it drives, right? Well get this; as soon as I pulled out of my driveway and stepped on the gas, I chirped the tires. Instant torque baby! 0 to 30 whooshes by in confident silence, though the Soul EV runs out of steam shortly thereafter. I chriped the tires again pulling onto the main road, though I quickly figured out how to manage the 210 lb-ft of torque Kia gave me to test drive. That’s about 30% more torque than the torqueiest conventional Soul, it’s worth noting.





The regenerative braking works as-intended without encroaching too much on driving dynamics; for those wanting to eek out every extra mile of range they can, there’s the B driving mode, which ups the regenerative braking and limits power even more the the activeEco mode already does. It works great for city driving, but I haven’t gotten a chance to test it out on the highway yet.

I was considering driving it about 45 miles from my home down to Milford for a friend’s birthday party, but with the display telling me I only had 78 miles of total range, not even the normally-daring me was prepared to stretch my luck that far. So much for Zach’s argument that EVs have enough range for most drivers. Day 1 and I’m already leaning on a conventional car crutch. With no public transit options and the nearest charging station 5 miles from my final destination, there was no getting around taking my tried-but-true Chevy Sonic on the 90-mile round trip journey.

The next day was decidedly different though, as I had to run some errands in the neighboring town. In stop-and-go traffic where speeds rarely exceed 40 MPH, the Kia Soul EV absolutely shined. It gets up to cruising speed quick enough to exude confidence, but quietly enough so even a whispered conversation in the back seat could be heard. Between my trip to target and errands around town, most of which I did in regenerative B driving mode, I managed to cover about 14 miles of actual distance, while losing just 9 miles of estimated range (78 to 69).

That’s surprisingly good, and according to the battery pack, there still about 90% of the battery life left. But the next few days will prove more interesting, as my list of errands grows exponentially. No rest for the weary and all of that.

How far can I get before range anxiety sets in for real? I’ll have my next report on Monday, so stay tuned.






About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he’s running, because he’s one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • Joshua Burstyn

    We started the day today with 175km on the dial. How come your car only had 78 miles available? Something isnt right.

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  • BlackTalon53 .

    The 78 miles with a full battery is most likely just an algorithm thing. Maybe the guy who drove the car from the parking lot onto the flatbed really floored it and did a few 0-60 launches while the boss wasn’t looking and reduced the range prediction by that much.
    Btw charging the battery only when it is empty is not good for it. Degradation is kept to a minimum when charges and discharges are as shallow as possible, so it should be plugged in every chance one gets. There is a reason tesla recommends doing exactly that in the manual.

  • Nice initial article. Fun stuff. 😀 Thanks. Curious to hear how it compares to other EVs.

    A 45-mile trip to a birthday party is average? I beg to differ. 😉 Maybe we do things differently down in car-dependent Florida. 😀

    • Chris DeMorro

      I have lots of friends man, and they’re spread out everywhere. We’ve but almost 50,000 miles on our Chevy Sonic in less than three years, about 50% more miles than the average person.

      • Offgridman

        Hi Chris,
        Have you had a chance to check out the PluggedIn review of the Soul EV on YouTube?
        Just wondering because way different results on range capability and the cars estimates, etc.
        Now perhaps due to slightly different versions available in England or the driving conditions there, but it is interesting for comparison.
        He just put it up in the past week or so, so wasn’t sure if you had seen it yet.

  • William Tzouris

    The reviewer should have a level 2 charger installed — it’s not 2010 anymore, anyone can get a 240v electric dryer circuit installed and a Clipper Creek portable EVSE. And it’s useless to read what the range meter (GOM= Guess-O-Meter) says since it is not the range of the car. Drive the car, take the miles driven and divide by the % of charge used as a decimal point figure and that is the range on that day. so 20 miles driven and 20% charge used is 20/0.20 = 100 miles range. The GOM is always 10-20 miles off. Driving more than 50 miles gives the most accurate range calculation. Sub zero temperatures will decrease the range by up to 40%.

    • Chris DeMorro

      Yes, I should have a charger installed for the plug-in cars I don’t own.

      • William Tzouris

        Look I thought it was a long-term test, not just a couple of days….. If you are just testing the EV but don’t own an EV yourself, I guess I understand. But wait the site is called Gas2, and I expect you guys to be a little more into it — maybe driving PHEV type cars?

        • Light up Bill. He said he’s going to plug in using an extension cord. I would like to know how that works out. Then he said he can get the full volts at the College location. Time will tell.

          • William Tzouris

            Fair enough, Chris. enjoy the car and keep up the good reporting!

        • Chris DeMorro

          I’d love to own a plug-in car, don’t get me wrong. I’d love to have a Level 2 charger installed at my house too.

          Right now though, I’d like to just get through the week without overdrawing my bank account. On the plus side, I haven’t had to pay for gas since I got the Soul EV, so I have that going for me, which is nice.

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  • James

    Some supplier should step up and give this reviewer a Level 2.