Search
The FREE Complete Bay Area Auto Enthusiast Guide
ALL-ELECTRIC KIA SOUL MAKES SUITABLE DEBUT

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
About 86 miles. That is the distance we were able to drive on a full tank of … Err, forget gas, since the all-new 2015 Kia Soul Electric Vehicle (EV) runs solely on an electric motor and battery. However, EPA estimates put the full charge battery range at 93 miles. Regardless, we must hand it to the Korean carmaker for equipping the quirky and lanky hot-seller with all-electric gear.
The hatchback is powered by an 81.4 kilowatt electric motor along with a 27 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery that is warrantied for 10 years/100,000 miles. The outcome is 109 horsepower and 210 pounds-feet of torque. A single-speed gearbox provides satisfactory feedback. And the ride comes in B (for regenerative braking) and D (normal driving) settings. There also is an eco button to eke extra mileage.
Standard safety features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for both rows, four-wheel antilock brakes, Vehicle Stability Management, stability and traction control, rearview camera, front seatbelt pretensioners, front/rear crumple zones, side impact door beams and tire pressure monitoring system.
The EV has retained the boxy and odd-looking shape of its gasoline-powered twin though a distinguishing feature are dual ports behind the sliding doors in the larger grille. With the on-board 6.6 kW charger, you can put life into the Soul at home. On a 120-volt system, you will need 24 hours to fully charge the battery; a 240 volt will do the job in 4 to 5 hours. However, on a 480-volt fast charger, it will take just 33 minutes. The portable charger can be stowed in an under-floor cargo tray.
Certainly, the coolest cabin trait is an energy-use monitor on the 3.5-inch instrument cluster showing power, eco guide and charge status via colored bars. Also useful is the EV button on the 8-inch touchscreen, which pulls up nearby EV charge stations, allows you to set charging/climate times and shows remaining charge percent on the battery. The extremely frugal folks will love the virtual plant that sprouts leaves. The more heavily one steps on the pedal, the fewer leaves will develop, making you see anything but green! Also notable are three illuminated blue lights atop the dashboard showing battery status during charge. Other standard goodies include leather, tilt/telescopic steering column, heated/cooled front seats, 60/40 rear fold seat and cruise control. 
Base-priced at $33,700 (apply $7,500 federal tax credit so total is $26,200), the Soul EV is an admirable first-time effort. Of course, the off-beat appearing ride now transforms into a city commuter, making long-distance travel virtually impossible. But then, as they say, a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. And Kia has joined the rest in taking that first stride.

SOUL EV (PLUS)
Tires: 205/60R16
Wheelbase: 101.2 inches
Length: 163 inches
Suspension: McPherson strut front; torsion beam axle rear
Steering: electric power
Weight: 3,289 pounds
Web site: www.kia.com
CALLING ALL KIA DEALERS IN THE WEST CENTRAL AREA: if you would like to be listed here as one of the test-drive dealerships, e-mail us at motoringtampabay@gmail.com