2015 Kia Soul EV

Starting MSRP: $33,700 - $35,700

Estimated MPG: 120 city / 92 hwy

2015 Kia Soul EV Review

Kia's first electric vehicle, the all-new Soul EV, is an impressive feat. With an excellent driving range, vast cargo space and a price tag that won't break the bank, the 2015 Kia Soul EV is at the top of its class.

By William Maley
Last Updated 05/03/2016

When Kia set to work on building their first electric vehicle, the automaker had two options: take an existing vehicle and put in an electric powertrain or do a clean-sheet design and build an all-new vehicle. Kia chose the former and used the Kia Soul as the base for its new EV. The result is the 2015 Kia Soul EV, which is a pretty well-rounded vehicle.

Exterior

Exterior
10

The Kia Soul is already one of the most distinctive vehicles on sale with a boxy shape and range of funky colors. Kia designers knew that it would be a bad idea to make any dramatic changes for the electric model. Thus, small changes were done to differentiate the Kia Soul EV from the regular Soul.

These include a new front fascia with a larger, closed-off grille, as well as different wheels, lighting with a blue tint and special color choices.

Interior

Interior
9

A key problem with retrofitting an electric powertrain into an existing vehicle is that the battery often compromises cargo space. The 2015 Soul EV is no exception to this, but there's still a lot of useable space. It has less cargo space than the standard Soul since its battery takes up space that is normally part of an underfloor storage tray.

However, most owners won't notice the loss of the storage under the floor, and both models have the same amount of cargo space when you exclude the underfloor storage space. Credit the Soul's boxy design to this.

As for the back seat, you don't really notice a difference in terms of space. The EV feels just as spacious as the standard model, despite 3 inches of lost legroom.

Like the gas-powered model, Kia made sure the Soul EV's interior features expressive styling details and high-quality materials. There are some unique touches for the Soul EV such as white trim around the center stack and gearshift, and a new gauge cluster that includes information about driving range and how much charge is left on the battery.

Cloth is standard on the base model, while leather comes on the higher Soul+ EV. The seats provide very good comfort and are simple to adjust. Some may wish for power-adjustable front seats, but the Soul EV doesn't offer them since they would require electricity that would be put to better use powering the vehicle.

The base Soul EV comes well equipped. You'll find keyless entry and push-button start, a six-speaker audio system, an 8-inch touch screen with navigation, Bluetooth, automatic climate control, heated front seats and dual charging ports. Opt for the Soul+ model and you'll get ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and front and rear parking sensors.

Performance

Performance
9

The Kia Soul EV has an electric motor that delivers 109 horsepower (81 kilowatts) and 210 pound-feet of torque. Overall range stands at 93 miles, and a full charge will take around 24 hours if you plug the Soul EV into a household outlet. That charge time is similar to how long it takes to charge most other electric vehicles. Most buyers will go for the 240-volt charger that drops the recharge time to four to five hours.

The Soul EV is about 600 pounds heavier than the standard Soul, but it doesn't feel like it. With the 210 pound-feet of torque available at zero rpm, the Soul EV gets out of its own way very quickly. 

Moreover, the electric motor was able to provide power quickly whenever I needed to pass or merge onto a freeway. I found that it took eight to 10 hours for the Soul EV to recharge after a day of driving around (about 40 miles in my case) when plugged into a household outlet.

The Soul EV rides very comfortably. Bumps and imperfections seem to be non-existent. More impressive is how little road noise came into the cabin while driving around. There is a fair amount of wind noise, mostly due to the boxy shape.

Technology

Technology
10

An 8-inch touch screen comes standard on the Soul EV. This is one the best infotainment systems on the market thanks to a clean interface and snappy response times. Kia has added a few new features such as showing you the location of the nearest public charging station and estimates on how long it will take the battery to charge.

One other interesting piece of technology Kia has put into the Soul EV is climate scheduling. This allows you to go into the climate control system and setup a schedule for when the air conditioner should turn on, and for how long. 

Climate scheduling only works when the Soul EV is plugged in, which prevents the air conditioning system from draining the battery when the vehicle is not in use.

Safety

Safety
8

The Kia Soul EV hasn't been crash-tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). However, the standard Soul earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick award and an overall five-star rating from NHTSA.

Standard safety equipment for the 2015 Soul EV includes a suite of air bags, anti-lock brakes, hill start assist, traction and stability control and a backup camera. The Soul EV also has a warning system that emits a noise at 12 mph or less to alert nearby pedestrians that the vehicle is approaching.

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
10

The Kia Soul EV starts at $33,700, while the upmarket Soul+ model is about $2,000 more. Both models currently qualify for a $7,500 tax credit. It should be noted that the Soul EV costs slightly more than the Nissan Leaf, which has a starting price of $29,010. However, the Soul EV has value on its side with a longer driving range and a more extensive list of standard equipment.

The only downside to the Kia Soul EV is that Kia is only selling it in certain markets. At the time of this review, Kia sells the Soul EV in California, Georgia, Hawaii, Oregon, Texas and Washington.

Overall

Overall
9

For its first electric car, Kia has really knocked it out of the park with the 2015 Soul EV. If you happen to be considering an EV and live in one of the six states where Kia sells the Soul EV, be sure to take some time to give it a close look. The rest of us will have to consider EVs and plug-in hybrids that are more widely available.