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2019 Kia Soul EV Review

In the 2019 Kia Soul EV, you’ll find a cute, capable small hatchback loaded with all the same great features and fun-to-drive flair of the standard Soul, but running solely on electric power and producing zero emissions. With a 110-mile range per charge, the Soul EV makes an ideal commuter car, more versatile and funky than a Nissan Leaf or a Volkswagen e-Golf, and with a better standard warranty, to boot. When plugged into a standard 120-volt outlet, the Soul EV takes about 24 hours to fully charge, but that time drops to a mere five hours when using a 240-volt outlet. A 94 percent charge can be reached in as little as 43 minutes with the standard DC Fast Charging port. The Soul EV can even recharge its batteries while in motion thanks to a regenerative braking system that helps capture and store energy.

As good as it is, the Soul EV isn’t the consumer’s only choice. Size-wise, the $33,000 Soul EV’s closest competitors are the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Bolt, each coming in around $31,000 and $36,000, respectively. The Volkswagen e-Golf is closer to the Soul EV in price, and now has a longer range. The Fiat 500e is also similarly priced but has a shorter range by about 25 miles, while the Hyundai Kona costs about $5,000 more, but offers a 258-mile range. When considering the overall cost of owning an electric car, remember to factor in the government’s tax credit, which can be as high as $7,500 if you qualify.

What’s New for 2019?

For 2019, the Kia Soul gets a new AVN 5.0 audio system as standard equipment. See the 2019 Kia Soul EV models for sale near you

What We Like

Handles well; loads of cool features; roomy interior; batteries don’t impede on cargo space

What We Don’t

Price is a bit high; no advanced driver assists; 111-mile range can’t compare with newer electrics like the Chevrolet Bolt and the Nissan Leaf.

How Much?

$34,945-$38,100

Fuel Economy

The Soul EV is powered by an 81.4-kilowatt electric motor producing the rough equivalent of 109 horsepower and 210 lb-ft of torque. The electric miles per gallon gasoline-equivalent rating for the Soul EV is 124 mpg in the city and 93 mpg on the highway, and 108 mpg in combined driving. The range for a fully charged Soul EV is 111 miles.

Standard Features & Options

The Kia Soul EV is offered in two trims: EV and Plus.

The Soul EV base ($34,945) includes DC Fast Charging port, a 6.6-kW on-board charger, keyless entry with push-button starting, power windows, mirrors and door locks, auto headlights, automatic climate control with driver-zone-only feature, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, a tilt-and-telescopic steering column, a trip computer, a unique EV-oriented gauge cluster, climate scheduling (allows preset heating or cooling of the vehicle while charging), FlexSteer driver-selectable power steering, a heat pump HVAC system, 16-in alloy wheels, outside mirrors with integrated turn signals, an 8-in color display with navigation and UVO voice-activated infotainment.

The Soul EV Plus ($36,945) adds fog lights, leather seats, power-folding mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, heated and ventilated front seats, a padded leatherette dash pad and door armrests, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and heated rear seats.

The EV Plus can be equipped with the Sun & Fun package that consists of speaker lights, a panoramic sunroof and LED interior lights.

Safety

The 2019 Kia Soul EV comes with a complete armory of the latest safety features including front, front-side impact and front and rear side-curtain airbags. Also on board are anti-lock brakes, electronic traction and stability control, hill-start assist, and because EVs run so silently, a pedestrian warning system that creates a virtual engine noise at low speeds.

As for crash-test results, neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tested the Soul EV. The gasoline-powered Soul does very well, however, earning an overall 5-star rating from the NHTSA and top scores in all the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests.

Behind the Wheel

Like most electric cars, the Soul EV is quick, quiet and efficient. Thanks to its batteries’ additional weight, the Soul EV feels more substantial than its gasoline-powered equivalent, but it also takes about a second and a half longer to reach 60 miles per hour. Handling is good, but not as sharp or well-mannered as the VW e-Golf. The Soul EV’s 3-mode FlexSteer driver-selectable steering is an interesting attempt at improving feedback, but we found little noticeable difference between the Sport, Normal and Comfort modes.

The 81.4-kW electric motor in the Soul EV produces 210 lb-ft of torque, which gives this little compact impressive power for off-the-line starts. It takes some time to get used to the way an EV accelerates, as the 1-speed transmission never shifts. Even more unsettling is the aggressive nature of the regenerative braking system that, once the driver’s foot is removed from the accelerator, rapidly decelerates. Kia says the Soul EV will run to 60 miles per hour in 11.5 seconds, with a top speed of about 90 mph. Maximum range on a single charge is estimated at 111 miles.

Other Cars to Consider

2019 Nissan Leaf — The Leaf costs less and has a more sporty design than the Soul EV, but it also has less standard content. The Leaf can travel further than the Soul EV, up to 150 miles on a single charge.

2019 Chevrolet Bolt — The Bolt costs about $5,000 more than the Soul EV, but it delivers better performance and can travel up to 238 miles on a single charge.

2019 Volkswagen e-GolfVolkswagen’s e-Golf is comfortable and quiet with a 125-mile range. Although it’s not as hip as the Kia, the Volkswagen still demonstrates a clean, youthful look.

Used Chevrolet Volt — The 2013-2017 Chevrolet Volt isn’t a pure electric — it’s a hybrid gasoline-electric that runs solely on electric power for about 40 miles. After that, a small gasoline engine powers the generator, which in turn provides power to the electric motor. Although it’s not a zero-emissions vehicle, the Volt is much more practical for long trips.

Autotrader’s Advice

Considering there’s only a $2,000 difference between the middle and top trims, we say go for the Soul EV Plus. Its heated and ventilated front seats are worth every extra penny, and the park-assist feature is a nice way to ensure that the bumpers won’t get beaten up when parallel parking. Find a Kia Soul EV for sale

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