2017 Kia Soul EV

2017 Kia Soul EV Review

The Soul EV is affordable and well equipped, and its boxy shape provides extra cargo utility.
4 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Travis Langness
Edmunds Editor

Based on the standard Kia Soul, the 2017 Kia Soul EV is what its name says it is. It's a Soul, but with electric power. Simple, right? Well, Kia's engineers probably don't see it that way, but the end result for you is very much that easy.

Kia fits the Soul EV with a 109-horsepower electric motor and a 27-kWh (kilowatt-hour) battery, and the combination is good enough for an EPA-estimated 93 miles of driving range. In the past, this was an above-average figure for a low-cost EV. But a few key competitors, such as the new Hyundai Ioniq and updated Volkswagen e-Golf, can now go a little farther. There's also the new all-star of the class, the Chevrolet Bolt, which has more than double the Kia's range.

From a utility standpoint, though, the 2017 Soul EV still offers a distinct advantage. Its boxy shape allows for greater cargo-carrying capacity than many other EVs, particularly if you're looking to haul bulky items. The Soul EV is also relatively quiet and comes well equipped with convenience and luxury-oriented features. Overall, we're fans of the 2017 Kia Soul EV, but we recommend that you look at the newest rivals if range and interior quality are your main concerns.



what's new

The 2017 Kia Soul EV gets a few updates to optional and standard equipment. Otherwise, it carries over unchanged.

we recommend

Our top choice for the 2017 Kia Soul EV is the top trim level called the Plus (+). The Plus is only marginally more expensive than the base trim level below it and includes all sorts of extra equipment such as leather upholstery, heated and ventilated seats, front and rear parking sensors and even heated rear seats. The Plus trim level also makes you eligible for pretty much the only significant options package that the Soul EV gets, the Sun and Fun package. Basically, the Plus is the best bargain for the money in the Soul EV's three available trim levels.




trim levels & features

The 2017 Kia Soul EV is a four-door electric-powered hatchback available in three trim levels: EV-e (available only in California), EV (also known as base) and Plus (+). Regardless of trim level, you get a 90-kW electric motor (109 horsepower, 210 pound-feet), a 27-kWh battery pack, a DC fast-charge port and a 6.6-kW onboard charger.

Standard equipment is pretty generous for the bottom EV-e and base EV trim levels, but there are a few optional extras on the top trim level that are appealing. Look for the ventilated front seats and the potential upgrade to a panoramic sunroof, if that's to your liking.

If you go with the EV-e (California only) you'll get 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, heated side mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, automatic climate control (with a "driver only" function to save energy), a height-adjustable driver seat, cloth upholstery, heated front seats, a heated tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 5-inch center screen with a rearview camera, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and a USB port.

In the middle of the Soul EV's trim-level structure is the base model. It's similar to the California-only EV-e, but it also gets a heat pump for the climate control system (helping to improve energy efficiency and maximize driving range), an 8-inch touchscreen, a navigation system and Kia's Uvo infotainment system (with additional electric-vehicle-oriented features).

Probably the most attractive of the trim levels for the Soul EV is the Plus (+). It gets almost all the equipment that the Soul EV has to offer, without a massive increase in price. On top of the base model, the Plus adds aerodynamic windshield wipers, foglights, front and rear parking sensors, power-folding mirrors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, simulated-leather dashboard and console trim, heated rear seats, a luggage net, a cargo cover and a 12-volt cargo area power outlet.

Optional for the Plus is a Sun and Fun package, which provides a panoramic sunroof and LED interior lighting.



trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the2015 Kia Soul EV Plus (+).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Soul EV has received some revisions, including the addition of a standard 5-inch center screen and an available panoramic sunroof. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's Kia Soul EV.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall4.0 / 5.0

Driving

3.5 / 5.0

Acceleration3.5 / 5.0
Braking3.5 / 5.0
Steering3.0 / 5.0
Handling2.5 / 5.0
Drivability5.0 / 5.0

Comfort

4.0 / 5.0

Seat comfort4.0 / 5.0
Ride comfort3.0 / 5.0
Noise & vibration4.0 / 5.0

Interior

4.5 / 5.0

Ease of use4.0 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out5.0 / 5.0
Roominess3.0 / 5.0
Visibility4.0 / 5.0
Quality3.0 / 5.0

Driving

edmunds rating
The Soul EV displays run-of-the-mill electric vehicle driving dynamics, which is disappointing compared to the gas-powered Soul, which has surprisingly adept handling, braking and acceleration. On the other hand, the Soul EV delivers silent, torque-rich power and aggressive regenerative braking.

Acceleration

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Abundant low-end torque makes the Soul EV feel spritely pulling away from a light, but this eagerness peters out as speeds rise. In Edmunds testing, a Soul EV accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 9.5 seconds, which is behind the leading all-electric competitors.

Braking

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In traffic, the Soul EV's brake pedal isn't particularly responsive or easy to modulate. But aggressive regenerative braking is available, and it is a boon once you get used to it. The Soul EV's panic-stop distance of 125 feet from 60 mph is about average for the class.

Steering

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The steering response is slow without much feedback regardless of the weight dialed in through the driver-adjustable steering system. Settings include Normal (relaxingly vague), Comfort (sloppily loose) and Sport (ironically the most "normal").

Handling

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This is not the surprisingly keen handler that the regular Soul is. The suspension favors comfort, limits are low and grip is unimpressive. Most EV competitors, especially the Chevrolet Bolt, Fiat 500e and Ford Focus EV, are sharper to drive.

Drivability

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Slotting the shifter to "B" engages aggressive regenerative braking. It feels unusual at first, but you'll quickly learn to love the car doing much of the braking for you, especially in traffic. The Soul EV is otherwise simple and easy to drive.

Comfort

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Without the gasoline Soul's raspy engine churning under the hood, the Soul EV is a quiet car to spend time in even with the elevated wind noise caused by its boxy shape. Ride comfort is average. The seats are commendably comfortable and supportive.

Seat comfort

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The firm, leather-covered seats with an elevated placement are supportive and comfortable during long drives (well, they would be if you could actually drive far in the Soul EV). But these are better than what you'll find in most small cars.

Ride comfort

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The added weight of the batteries, smaller wheels and increased tire sidewall result in an improved ride compared to the rather jiggly and sometimes harsh ride of the gasoline-powered Soul. Ride comfort is about average for the small-EV segment.

Noise & vibration

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The Soul EV's boxy shape creates more wind noise than is typical, and this is exasperated by the lack of engine noise. You pretty much just hear the wind. But that silent electric motor replaces the regular Soul's rather raspy, slightly crude engine.

Interior

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For the most part, the Soul EV's interior is user-friendly. It has a likable tech interface that's relatively easy to use, as well as easy entry and exit. Materials quality isn't as good as we'd like for the price, but it's not a deal-breaker.

Ease of use

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All dashboard controls are placed within easy reach. The large, optional touchscreen is generally a model of simplicity for its audio controls, with big icons and logical menus, but swiping to scroll phone numbers or track lists often results in errant selections.

Getting in/getting out

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The seats are placed higher than in your average car, making climbing in and sitting down easy. There's no "fall-in" as in a car or "climb up" as in most SUVs. There's near-perfect step-in height. Wide door openings help as well.

Roominess

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The battery placement raises the rear floor a few inches, reducing rear seat legroom and comfort compared with the gasoline-powered Soul. Still, high-mounted seats in all positions yield good room for a vehicle of this size. It's similar to a subcompact SUV.

Visibility

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The boxy shape makes it easy to know where the vehicle's corners are. Tall windows make the view forward clear, but thick rear-quarter pillars restrict the crossview while reversing. A rearview camera is standard on the Soul EV, and our Plus tester came with front and rear parking sensors.

Quality

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We gave the regular Soul a higher score in this category for its abundant soft-touch points and above-average materials and switchgear. However, it cost much less than the EV. The Soul EV is well built, but in the price range, interior quality is a bit subpar.

Utility

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Some EVs suffer a reduction in cargo space due to their extra batteries, but the Soul EV does not. In terms of passenger and cargo room, it lines up more with the new batch of subcompact SUVs rather than compact hatchbacks.

Technology

A fast-charge port, navigation, an 8-inch touchscreen, a rearview camera, parking sensors, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and leather upholstery are all a part of the Plus trim level. The Soul EV's touchscreen commands are easy to learn and use.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.