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Our Take: 2016 Kia Soul EV

, Contributing Editor -

The Kia Soul EV is an electric vehicle for the rest of us, but only if you can live with the 93-mile range.

Pricing and Equipment

The Kia Soul EV is a pure electric vehicle powered by a 109-horsepower motor. Torque is generous and immediate, producing an instantaneous 210 pound-feet when the throttle pedal is depressed. A single-speed transmission sends power to the front wheels.

The 2016 Kia Soul EV is available in three trim levels.

  • The $31,950 base Soul EV-E skimps on the extras, but offers the same drivetrain and safety features as other Soul EVs.
  • The $33,950 Soul EV is a nicely optioned trim level that provides all the tech essentials that most electric vehicle owners will want, plus some surprisingly thoughtful comfort features that will set the EV apart from its gas-powered counterparts.
  • The top-of-the-line $35,950 Soul EV+ adds parking assist, leather seats, power folding outside mirrors, some attractive leatherette interior touches, and optional interior lighting packages.

Performance Pros

  • Thanks in part to the extra weight of the batteries, and low center of gravity, the Soul EV feels planted and offers excellent driving manners.
  • To my surprise, the claimed 93-mile range wasn't overly optimistic. Even spirited driving resulted in range numbers very close to those advertised by the manufacturer.
  • With only 109 horsepower and a zero-to-60 mph time that exceeds 10 seconds, the Soul EV looks anemic on paper. All that instant torque, however, will make you grin from ear to ear, especially if you break the silence with the attention-grabbing sound of squealing tires.

Performance Cons

  • The Soul EV's 93-mile range, while decent for an electric vehicle that doesn't have a Tesla badge, still limites its usefulness for many buyers.
  • Charging a dead battery with standard "Level 1" 120V power takes an almost ridiculous 24 hours. Thankfully, 240V "Level 2" charging cuts that time down to a realistic 4 or 5 hours. And plugging into a DC fast charge station will provide the Soul EV with an 80% charge in about a half hour.

Interior Pros

  • As with the gasoline-powered Kia Soul, the EV's interior is open and inviting. While you won't forget that you are in an economy crossover, the comfortable seats and ergonomic controls suit the EV's personality perfectly.
  • On upper models, a high-quality 8-inch touchscreen controls Kia's highly regarded Uvo infotainment and navigation system. A suite of apps designed specifically for the EV provide vital information to the driver like range, nearest DC fast charge stations, and more.

Interior Cons

  • Rear passengers lose three inches of legroom to make space for the EV's batteries.
  • The upholstery in my test car reminded me of the heather gray sweat pants from the 1980s. Sure, it was a much denser material, but it seemed an odd choice for seats that will see quite a bit of use.

Most Pleasant Surprise

I never expected the Soul EV to scorch the tires during full throttle launches. The car is so quiet that the sound of wheels spinning off the line is enough to take nearby pedestrians by surprise. Moreover, when you're doing your part to help save the environment, it is kind of fun to be a little mischievous.

Least Pleasant Surprise

On one occasion, I pushed the range meter a little too far and was greeted with an urgent warning to charge the batteries. Unfortunately, I was about three miles from my house and twice that far from the nearest DC fast charge station. I did make it home without the help of a tow truck, but the anxiety was palpable.

Bottom Line

Kia has done a commendable job on its first-ever electric vehicle. Fans of the gasoline-powered Soul will be particularly pleased that the manufacturer has been able to perform a heart transplant without robbing the quirky vehicle's soul. (I couldn't help myself).

An important note: The Soul EV is available only in California, Georgia, Texas, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii. And if you're interested in the no-frills EV-E trim, you'd better live in California.

Buying With CarsDirect

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Used Kia Soul EV in 20149

Insider Information

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