2015 Kia Soul EV Review

Soul EV

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2015 Kia Soul EV Overview

The inherent coolness of the 5-passenger 2015 Kia Soul comes from its shape. That newly popular cube style also lends itself perfectly to an electric vehicle (EV). Kia wisely waited for other automakers to show their hands and learn hard lessons before diving into the now-mandatory EV segment. The wisdom Kia gained is to your benefit if you're considering a Soul EV. Reviewers say good things about this new Soul EV, including that it has a lot in common with the BMW i3.

Let’s get right to the important bits. The 2015 Kia Soul EV has a total range of 93 miles. That's 11% more range than the 2015 Nissan Leaf's, and those 9 additional miles per charge will come in handy. The Soul has 210 lb-ft of torque, more than the BMW i3’s 184 lb-ft. That said, the Soul EV was not made from adamantium and pixie dust like the i3, so it's not as light and quick. However, it is about half the price.

One way the Kia Soul is exceptionally quick is with regard to charging. A CHAdeMO DC quick-charge port comes with the car. CHAdeMO is short for "Charge de Move" and is a widely used standard for DC charging. At a CHAdeMO charging station equipped to deliver 50kWh of DC power, the Soul will charge from empty to about 80% charge in 33 minutes. Like all EV makers these days, Kia has gone ahead and partnered with the charging-station operators and will set up new owners with a Kia Charge-up Card. Since these programs change and are regional, ask your dealer for details. Regardless of location, Kia Soul EV owners can use the no-cost UVO app on their smartphone or the 8-inch screen in the vehicle to locate charge points nearby.

Owners that charge at home on a 240-volt system will find the 6.6kW charger means the Soul can be fully charged in about 4 hours. A Nissan Leaf can match this only with its optional charger. Of course, the Soul EV can also be charged slowly anyplace a 115-volt outlet is available.

If ever there was a vehicle just dying to be electrified, it was the 2015 Kia Soul. The Soul is a front-drive, compact, boxy vehicle with a tall ride height. This is ideal for battery storage. Putting the batteries under the flat floor minimizes intrusion on the passenger and cargo area, and the battery being so low means the vehicle’s center of gravity is as low as possible, aiding handling and responsiveness. Reviewers report the vehicle is snappy around town. Like all affordable EVs on the market, the Soul EV is intended primarily as a commuter-type vehicle for in-town use, but reviewers find that it's quite good on the highway, too.

One area in which the Soul was able to benefit from past EVs errors was in keeping the cabin comfortable. Climate control is an area that tripped up many EVs upon introduction, including the BMW i3. Part of this was users’ newness to a vehicle that does not generate waste heat and the owners’ learning curve. The 2015 Soul EV comes standard with heated seats up front. The + trim adds ventilation to the front seats and heat to the rear seats. And the Soul EV may well be one of the least expensive cars in the world with a standard heated steering wheel.

Like all EVs and many gas-powered cars, the 2015 Soul EV can pre-condition its cabin. That's important for two reasons. First, it's just a great feature. Imagine being on the tarmac at the airport in winter and telling the car to warm up. Second, it allows the user to condition the cabin while the Soul is drawing power from its charge source. That way, range is maximized.

Available in two trims, Base and +, the Soul EV starts at $33,700. From this, most EV buyers can subtract the $7,500 federal tax deduction and their state’s EV credit. After the math is done, most Soul buyers or lessees will end with a buy price between $19,000 and $23,000. The Soul EV will first be available in California and then roll out to other states. The Soul has a 5-year/60,000-mile new-car warranty, but the drivetrain and all EV bits are covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles.

The 2015 Kia Soul EV is an electric car that has everything one expects from a second- or third-generation EV. Yes, it's made sustainably, and many of the materials in the vehicle are sustainable, free-range or whatever green specification is appropriate. What makes the Soul EV special is that Kia watched others learn the hard lessons and applied them, so you won’t have to drive a beta version. The Soul EV is more than worth a close look for those considering buying or leasing an affordable EV.


John Goreham is a life-long car nut and recovering engineer. In the early 1990s, he was part of a team that built a solar-electric race car from scratch. In addition to his work at CarGurus, John covers automotive news at Torque News and GM-trucks.com and is a contributor to CarTalk and BestRide. Aside from all things automotive, John loves fishing and hockey, preferably in the company of his two boys.

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