Electric vehicles are a fascinating thing, fueled by still-developing technology that the general population still has yet to embrace. While the adopters are growing in numbers, electric cars are still most prevalent in markets like California, not only due to a higher environmentally-friendly consciousness, but practicality as well. While makers like Tesla have their vehicles readily-available here in Northern Illinois where I live, there are issues pertaining to battery life and range that can hinder EVs in cold-weather climates (battery heaters are available), which is why Kia is smartly rolling out their first-ever zero-emmissions, all-electric vehicle in select markets before casting the net wider. Just launched on the West Coast, I had a chance to spend some time with the 2015 Kia Soul EV a couple of weeks back, taking to the road in Southern California to see just how this new ride handles and performs.
Like it’s gas-powered brother, the Soul EV packs a lot of style into it’s modest package, bringing forth a two-tone design with additional styling flair available as part of the EV + package. Low resistance tires help with efficiency and range. The charging port is attractively hidden behind a sliding door on the front grille for easy access.
While the model I was driving was the Caribbean Blue/Clear White version, I prefer the Shadow Black/Inferno Red pairing, which I’d initially assumed was custom-built with me in mind, tapping into my KNIGHT RIDER-inspired obsession with black/red color schemes.
Customizers should note: Weight makes a huge difference when it comes to performance in an electric vehicle, and that’s something that could make customizing a Soul EV a bit tricky, as even the wheels have already been designed with range in mind.
Comfortable, yet somewhat no-frills (which is good here), the interior further accentuates the eco-friendly design by reducing the amount of petroleum-based products used to construct the car, instead opting for plastics made from organic materials like corn and sugar. The texture feels a little weird at first, reminding me much of some corn-based eco-friendly disposable plates I bought a Target awhile back – they looked like what they were replacing, but the feeling was a bit… different.
The navigation system and on-board UVO EV Services dashboard puts everything you need to know at arm’s reach, from where to find the nearest charging station, to how the car is performing in real-time. The sound system (a key component for The Rock Father) is adequate, the six-speaker affair placing the tweeters on the dash and spreading out solid sound from the expected bluetooth-connected AM/FM/CD/Sirius XM head. We listened to some MEGADETH while cruising beneath the palm trees.
It’s zippy, and the torque is there (I squealed those low-resistance tires from a dead-stop), and the acceleration is FAST. I’m still weirded out by the silence of driving an electric vehicle, devoid of all the engine and transmission noises that we’ve all been accustomed to for the entire history of the “horseless carriage.” We pushed our car to the limits, as it’s on-board computer was showing us a range of 105 miles from a full charge (the official rating puts it right at 93 miles), and we had about 70 miles to our destination. We used as much power as possible, and still came out with plenty of miles left to spare.
Ratings not yet available, will update this review after ratings come in.
The Bottom Line:
The Kia Soul EV is a fantastic vehicle that I would absolutely consider buying – if I lived in a warmer climate, or did most of my driving in an urban area. With MSRPs of $33,700 for the Soul EV Base and $35,700 for the Soul EV + (totally worth it for the extra bells and whistles like heated seats, etc), the Soul EV will also be available on a 36-month lease, limited to 12,000 miles per year (again, not practical for me personally, but great for city drivers). Figure in potential tax credits, gas savings, and the fact that it’s just a fun car to drive, the 2015 Kia Soul EV is not only Rock Father-Approved, but heartily recommended.
Check out KIA.com for availability and more specs.
Disclosure: The Rock Father was a guest the National Press Unveiling for this vehicle, with expenses paid by Kia Motors America. This in no way influenced the opinions put forth in this review.