If you’ve spent nearly 13 minutes of your precious time watching my video review of the 2020 Kia Soul EV, unfortunately, Motor Illustrated does not offer reparations for mental distress; I thought you should know. But seriously, I conclude my seemingly endless rant by saying that there are no current bad EVs, only better ones. The 2020 Kia Soul belongs to the latter group.
If I consider the EVs I’ve driven over the last two years, from the Nissan LEAF to the Tesla Model S P100D and many in between, I cannot point to one in particular and proclaim it to be bad. Not all have equal on-board charging capabilities, battery sizes or similarly-designed platforms but then this is how the car industry operates, and it’s the way it needs to be.
Big resources, big design, big personality, small CUV
The 2020 Kia Soul EV does have the distinct advantage of being part of the mega Hyundai-Kia family where investments in electrified technology can and are shared over numerous nameplates. This explains why, on paper, and in real-life, why EVs like the Hyundai Kona EV and this Kia Soul EV are superior, without commanding massive prices.
Factor in Kia’s design department and you have an EV that no one can overlook, unless drinking the Tesla cool-aid is part of your daily diet. Weening yourself off the stuff will enable you to see that among its single electric motor peers, the Kia Soul is extremely compelling. The base EV Premium’s $42,595 price tag is in the very acceptable range, again when compared to the others.
Spicy, or extra spicy
It sports a standard 110 kW electric motor (134-horsepower) which produces 291 lb.-ft. of torque, holds a 64 kWh battery pack good for 248 km of range, has an on-board 7.2 kW charger, and a huge array of amenities that puts some “luxury” cars to shame. Included are a 10.25-inch display, a 7-inch IP display, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, heated front seats and steering wheel, smart cruise control and so on.
The jump to my tested EV Limited is steep. Priced at $51,595, it’s far from off many budgets once more, the value packed into this compact crossover is immense. Over the EV Premium, is has a useless HUD pop-up screen, Harman Kardon audio, leather, cooled front and heated rear seats, and that’s it for the fluff.
The important elements are the heat pump and a more powerful 150 kW permanent magnet AC synchronous motor. The 201-horsepower electric motor delivers the same amount of torque but all said, range does rise to credible 383 km.
Not just for kids
Now that we’ve got all the numbers out of the way, let’s touch on the cabin. What I’ve always found interesting is that their marketing efforts have always been geared towards younger buyers. My tested Limited’s ambient mood and LED lighting is a pointless gimmick but Kia’s learned a few lesson over time.
The new 2020 Soul’s cabin is far more grown-up and cleverly laid out. Although the car could benefit from more storage spots, I did like the seats and how it is easy to get in and out of the Soul. Same goes for installing the baby seats however, with them in place, the trunk will only provide a limited amount of space. Kia claims the volume to be of 530 litres but my eyes say it’s far less than that.
You’ll find countless reasons to go for a drive
And now, the best part. After a 59-hour full charge at home… Ok, so I didn’t need to charge it completely form 0 as I stopped at the local mall once for a Level 2 charge (9h35 from 0.) So, setting off in the 2020 Kia Soul EV is extremely fun. Power is instantaneous and addictive. Like the Hyundai Kona, at highway speeds, a determined stab on the throttle resulted in effortless acceleration.
In the city, too much go-pedal, like 50%, results in front wheelspin a little handful of torque steer and this, in ECO drive mode. Obviously, driving like this hampered my indicated range slightly even after a full charge. Even so, I cannot imagine anyone needing more than roughly 340 km of range all day every day. Let’s keep in mind also that ambient temperatures hovered in the 0-degree Celsius range.
What is equally brilliant about the new Kia Soul EV is its ride quality: As I said for the Kona, it’s surprisingly good. The Soul never faulters, be it driving over uneven surfaces, at high speeds on the highway or when avoiding a Toyota Corolla turning out into your lane in a parking lot (really happened.) Like the Kona EV, the Soul has four brake regeneration modes accessible through the steering-wheel mounted paddles – applying constant pressure on the left-hand paddle will being the vehicle to a full stop and hold it in place.
Patience is a virtue
The only true fault that can be associated with the 2020 Kia Soul EV is that they are hard to come by. Demand for batteries may very well become a global crisis before too long but for at the moment, limiting production is to only way to avoid issues. If you are on the fence about the Soul, don’t be – it’s great. If you need an EV soon, like li said, they’re all quite good.