The electric vehicle (EV) market is in full bloom, with announcements of new models coming every month.
There are attention grabbers such as the Tesla Cybertruck, Porsche Taycan, and the Ford Mustang Mach-E. These vehicles can make buyers forget about some of the less exciting but equally important mainstream options, such as the all-new 2020 Kia Soul EV Limited that we have in the garage here.
The Kia Soul EV arrived in an electrifying Space Green paint colour that easily attracts whole lot of attention everywhere. The neon paint scheme fits the Soul’s bold design language very well, accentuating its signature boxy silhouette and distinctive elements such as the floating roof. The 17-inch alloy wheels look functional in improving aerodynamics which in turn enhances efficiency. The vertical taillights stay true to the Soul’s heritage, and overall funky character is fitting for the target audience.
The as-tested 2020 Soul EV Limited has a 356-volt electric motor that is leaps and bounds better than the last generation, in terms of both power and range. It is an upgraded motor from the standard EV Premium’s 327-volt motor, with 201 horsepower on board versus the standard 134, and a maximum 291 lb-ft. of torque for both motors. The massive torque figure, as well as its instantaneous arrival, allows for immediate acceleration that can creep up on unsuspecting drivers, and the Soul EV has the ability to surge up to speed limits on most city roads before letting off.
More importantly, the 2020 Soul EV Limited has extended its maximum drive range to 383 kilometres from the standard Soul EV Premium’s 248 kilometers, and this more than doubles last generation’s 179-kilometer rating. During a city commute, we were able to take advantage of the Soul’s excellent regenerative braking system that charges the batteries during braking or coasting to consistently use less range than expected. Range anxiety still exists for longer road trips, but it is far more manageable than our experience with the previous generation, and the ever-growing network of charging stations in Ontario has also made EV adaptation much easier than in years before. Charging to full from 0% takes 9 hours 45 minutes on a Level 2 charger, and can be done in as little as an hour with a 100-kilowatt DC fast charger.
Power is sent to the front wheels using a single-speed reduction gearbox, Kia’s version of a CVT, and drivers can choose from four different drive modes (Normal/Sport/Eco/Eco+) for a tailored driving experience. While one-pedal driving is not available like some other EVs in the market, drivers can use the paddle behind the steering wheel to adjust the aggressiveness of the regenerative braking system.
Thanks to Kia’s suite of driver assist systems such as the Advanced Smart Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist, Advanced Forward Collision Avoidance Assist, and Blind-spot Detection, driving the Soul EV is quite an effortless and enjoyable task. Steering force is light, and fairly accurate in directing the little urban crossover. The new generation Soul’s balanced driving dynamics have carried over to the electric version, offering no detriment to those wanting to minimize their carbon footprint.
The newly designed interior is simple and practical. The centre of attention belongs to the gorgeous 10.25-inch wide touchscreen that houses the multimedia infotainment unit. While the resolution is not particularly sharp, its touch response is great and the width of the screen allows for additional information to be displayed as well as bigger buttons for easy input. The presence of shortcut keys below the screen help drivers access frequently used functions quickly, and the Soul EV supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.
Another Kia Soul heritage feature retained is the sound reactive mood lighting system, which can adjust the ambient lighting to either synchronize with the music being played, or tailor its light output to a variety of selectable moods. These moods, named ‘Hey! Yo!’, ‘Party Time’, ‘Traveling’, ‘Romance’, ‘Midnight City’, and ‘Cafe’, help turn the Soul EV into a rolling night club. The Limited comes standard with a ten-speaker 640-watt Harman-Kardon premium audio system that, along with the mood lighting feature, injects a ton of character to the funky crossover. This brought a genuine smile to every passenger we had throughout the test week.
The Soul’s boxy shape means there is an abundance of interior space for all occupants. Thanks to the large windows all around, the cabin feels airy and outward visibility is excellent. The front power adjustable seats are heated and air-cooled, and are fairly comfortable even for longer trips. The driver’s seating position is quite high, and getting in and out of the vehicle is an effortless task. Standard cargo space is rated at 530-litres, bigger than that of the Chevrolet Bolt (479-liters), and the floor can be lowered to increase capacity to 663 litres, besting the Volkswagen e-Golf (645-liters).
Pricing for the 2020 Kia Soul EV Premium is $42,595, and our top-trim Limited costs $51,595. It prices itself in between a couple of other mainstream offerings such as the Hyundai Kona Electric Ultimate (reviewed here) and the Chevrolet Bolt Premier (reviewed here), all of which are eligible for the $5,000 incentive for zero-emission vehicles by the Government of Canada. Even with incentives applied, the Kia Soul EV Limited is still at least $17,000 more than the gas-powered version, and whether it is worth the premium will depend on one’s commute and ability to integrate into the EV lifestyle.
Chances are that it will take you longer to recapture the gas savings than one’s regular car buying cycle, but many will tell you there is no price tag too big in making a statement against climate change. For those who have made the commitment, the 2020 Kia Soul EV Limited is an excellent choice. Its best attributes are that it drives like a regular car and the extended drive range in the Limited model makes the Soul much easier for anyone who is new to the EV space. Bonus points for music lovers who will enjoy the mobile jukebox experience with the fun mood lighting system.