Thursday, February 22, 2024
Reviews 2023 Kia Soul EV Review: Needs a Base Model with the Big...

2023 Kia Soul EV Review: Needs a Base Model with the Big Battery

The 2023 Kia Soul EV is a rare, affordable, and fun way to get into the electric vehicle game


2023 Kia Soul EV Pros

– The base Premium model offers plenty of value at $43,095.

– Still looks unique and cool after all these years.

– Decent range with the Limited trim.

– Very pleasant and entertaining to drive.


2023 Kia Soul EV Cons

– The $52,095 Limited version is priced in Ioniq 5 territory.

– Important features like the heat pump are only available with the Limited.

– The base Premium model’s range is on the low end at a rated 248 km.


 

2023 Kia Soul EV | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The Kia Soul EV is a seriously underappreciated electric vehicle. The fact that is not sold in the US but is offered in Canada probably does not help. The fact of the matter is that it is one of the rare people’s EVs that is affordable enough for most of us.

Electric vehicles are still novel and make headlines every day for their design, impressive range, mind-bending performance, and unobtanium status be it based on pricing or availability. The 2023 Kia Soul EV is none of these however it is an electric vehicle that, like the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Bolt, isn’t sexy.


Still unique and cool

What the Soul EV is, though it must be said, is original. And this is despite being introduced some 13 years ago and its incredible success. The current 3rd generation Soul arrived for the 2020 model year. Exterior body changes from the second-generation vehicles are obvious up front with the new grille and headlights. The rear is updated with new taillights and a revised bumper. The proportions and overall are unchanged.

2023 Kia Soul EV | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

All of these changes, including new 17-inch wheels and new front fascia, apply to the  Kia Soul EV. As such, it looks great especially painted Neptune blue as was the tested unit. There is, however, one major issue. The front-mounted charge port is terrible. While I had the vehicle in my possession, I was forced to battle with caked-on ice, slush, and snow to get it open. This is an extreme annoyance for owners and drivers who do not park in a heated garage and could be a deal breaker. Sure, winter lasts only four or five months per year…

Climbing into the Soul EV puts the front occupants ahead of the highest level of technology available in the crossover. As standard in the Premium, the cluster features a 7-inch display and the smart infotainment system is accessible via a 10.25-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, along with plenty of other accessories. The pricier Limited ads leather-covered cooled front seats, and most importantly, a heat pump, and there’s more.

2023 Kia Soul EV | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

As always, the Kia Soul offers up more than enough room for four passengers. The rear bench can accommodate three abreast though two adults, or in my case two booster seats, will be best. The trunk is rated at 663L although that number seems overly generous based on the visible and accessible space.


Premium vs. Limited

The “more” included with the 2023 Kia Soul EV Limited comes down to a larger 64 kWh battery compared to the standard 39.2 kWh unit, and a more powerful 201hp front-mounted electric motor, up from 134. For the latter, both produce an equal 291 lb.-ft. of torque. The extra power no doubt comes in handy when attempting to pass on the highway in the 3,700lb electric crossover.

2023 Kia Soul EV | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The 67hp surplus is far from the more important add-on for the Limited, but it’s necessary to justify the $9,000 price differentiation between the Premium and Limited versions. I don’t have exact numbers however I suspect that the bigger battery is responsible for roughly 75% of the amount.

With the small battery, the Soul EV has a rated 248km range whereas, with the bigger one, the range climbs to a very respectable 383km. As has been demonstrated, 15-30% (and more) range losses can be observed in winter driving conditions with EVs. This would leave the Premium with a sub-200km range which for many will be anxiety-inducing. Throughout the week with the tested Limited, I consistently observed an average indicated 320km of range on a full charge. Highway distances of 70km, in early January, would knock roughly 20% off the battery’s state of charge meaning the math checks out.

2023 Kia Soul EV | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Long story short, I’m in the process of discovering the joys and freedom that come with a Level 2 home charger. By programming the 2023 Soul EV to accept a charge off-peak hours, I benefitted from its onboard 7.2 kWh charger that happily converted all the juice delivered by my portable Level 2 charger. Kia states that a full charge is achieved in about 9 hours, or effortlessly topped up overnight.


A darling of an EV

Pricing for the 2023 Kia Soul EV starts at $43,095 and for the amount, on top of the aforementioned kit, buyers get a very well-mannered and agreeable compact crossover to drive that is at home in the city and cruising at highway speeds. This version is perfect (and eligible for all incentives) but would do better with the larger battery which should ideally be a $5,000 option.

Otherwise, the Limited, which is also eligible for all incentives, is great however barges into the Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 territory. Here, I would opt for an AWD Long Range EV6 which retails for $57,495, or only $5,400 more.

Finally, while I would normally suggest alternatives to a Kia/Hyundai product, between the LEAF, Bolt, and Soul, grab whichever is available.

2023 Kia Soul EV | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2023 Kia Soul EV | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2023 Kia Soul EV | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2023 Kia Soul EV | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2023 Kia Soul EV | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2023 Kia Soul EV | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2023 Kia Soul EV | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2023 Kia Soul EV | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2023 Kia Soul EV | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2023 Kia Soul EV | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2023 Kia Soul EV | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

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Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,500 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai

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