Kia Soul EV Test Drive, Pt. 2: Fast Charging And Driving Far

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I came around the corner to find my wife just exiting the bar where she works, ready to hop into the cool confines of the Kia Soul EV. I had found that using the air conditioning cost me between 2 and 5 miles from my estimated range calculator, but by driving into Hartford using city streets, rather than always-congested I-84, I was able to maximize the Soul EV’s range.

In fact, on the 10-mile journey from my home to my wife’s place of employment, I spent just 4 estimated miles, even with the air conditioning on full blast (it was 90 degrees out, for the record). The journey home was the same deal, with the regenerative braking and activeECO modes reducing power but turning up the regenerative braking. This also meant I didn’t have to use the brakes nearly as much, and I never felt like I was driving in a way that was detrimental to other people on the roads (no creeping along under the speed limit or braking for 200 feet before every stop sign.

That said, between dropping my wife off and running errands all day, I arrived home with the battery down to just one-third charge, prompting me to find a place to plug in the next day. I found my charging options down the street at Central Connecticut State University, and initially I plugged into a 240-volt Level 2 Charger, which told me I’d have to wait about 2 hours and 45 minutes for a full charge.

20150509_101137That was when my wife called me over to the CHAdeMO/CSS Combo fast-charger also installed. had completely overlooked the fast-charger in my eagerness to plug in the Soul EV, which has a nifty pop-open charging dock where the grille would normally be. Estimated time for a charge dropped to just 39 minutes, giving the wife and I time to enjoy a leisurely stroll home before returning in our other car to recover the Soul EV.

An hour later I retrieved the Soul EV, only to discover that the CHAdeMO charging station or the Soul EV stops the fast charging at about 80%. So instead of a full charge, I got a 50% charge (from about 35% to 83%), which gave me just enough range (an estimated 63 miles) to get down to my friend’s Jack and Jill party approximately 25 miles each way. Sure, I could have plugged into the Level 2 charger to top it off, but I had places to go and things to do!

That said, I didn’t hesitate to take the Soul EV on the 50-mile round trip journey, feeling confident that the estimated range calculator was quite conservative, especially if I kept it in the regenerative braking-favored “B” driving mode. For this trip though, I kept it in D and even turned the activeECO mode off, giving me all the torque and horsepower to play with.

I could really get used to driving an electric vehicle. No gearshifts to deal with, the acceleration is as smooth or as instant as you want, and everything is so quiet. It makes listening to music or having a conversation infinitely easier, and there were plenty of conversations to be had at the Jack and Jill.

While the Soul EV didn’t exactly draw a crowd, blending in as well as it did with the gas burners in attendance, but it raised a lot of questions, especially from the older crowd, who had mixed responses and opinions. One guy called it “silly” and said electric cars would “never work”, while a fellow at least a decade his senior was absolutely fascinated.

My Millennial-aged friends, however, were for the most part disinterested in the Soul EV, except for Pat, a fellow gearhead. I took him on a quick test drive, and he was impressed with the torque, silence, and well-appointed interior. Unfortunately (for Kia), Pat is one of the many of my generation who have moved into major metro areas; he sold his Subaru WRX with no intention of replacing it anytime soon. Electric cars may solve the problems of noise and pollution, but sometimes, there’s no getting around New York City traffic. Maybe that study about EVs and Millennials wasn’t all that far off the mark?

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All told, I travelled 45 miles round trip, but the Soul EV’s estimated range calculator only dropped from about 63 miles to 26, and so I never felt any sort of range anxiety. Without a home charger however, I would either have to drop the Soul EV off again at 10 PM in order to use it for the next day, or fall back on my gas-powered car. Not wanting to leave a $36,000 vehicle that doesn’t belong to me overnight in a parking lot, I opted to leave the Soul EV behind on Sunday morning in order to drive my wife into work. I definitely would have driven it had I a home charger, and the 26 miles should have been enough to get me there and back…but I didn’t want to start out my Sunday, stranded at 7 AM halfway home.

Thus, the Soul EV spent most of Sunday sitting idle, as I drove my Chevy Sonic once again to go the 60-miles round-trip to visit my mom for mother’s day. Again, had I a mostly-charged Soul EV, I would have driven it…but what I have come to realize is that I probably drive more frequently than the average American, and 80 miles just isn’t quite enough. At least for me.

Something interested happened while driving my Sonic down to my mom’s house though. This car that I have loved with all my heart for the past three years now felt a lot more…dated. Older. Obsolete. The way the motor had to roar to deliver any sort of power, the gentle vibrations from the constant spinning of the combustion engine, and the smell. Everything that bothered me about combustion cars seemed much more amplified after a few days with the Soul EV. I found myself missing the Soul EV more and more, and wishing it had a longer range.

And that’s where we’re at. If you want to read my initial thoughts, check out part 1, and stay tuned for part 3 to read my final thoughts.

 

Christopher DeMorro

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.