2018 Kia Soul EV

2018 Kia Soul EV Review

The 2018 Kia Soul EV scores high on style, features and space, but not so much on range.
4 star edmunds overall rating
author
by James Riswick
Edmunds Editor

If you're a current or potential EV buyer, chances are that getting a lot of electric range is important. Nobody wants to suffer from range anxiety, and every extra mile an electric car can eke out represents another mile you can go without burning gasoline in your second car, taking public transit or getting an emergency recharge. Well, the 2018 Kia Soul EV can go a few extra miles this year with the debut of a more energy-rich battery, bringing with it a new maximum of 111 miles. That's up from 93 miles.

That's great news for the range-conscious, but it falls a bit short of the range of other EVs such as the VW e-Golf and the Hyundai Ioniq Electric. And, much like every other EV not named Tesla, the Soul has less than half of the Chevrolet Bolt's estimated 238 miles of all-electric range. For many, that will make their EV choice obvious.

Still, if you're planning to stay within the city confines, own a second car, or quite simply don't plan on going very far, the Kia Soul EV offers a lot to like. For starters, it arguably has far more character and style than the Bolt and most other EVs. Like the gasoline Kia Soul upon which it's based, it boasts a handsome-if-quirky exterior, a stylish cabin, and a body style that's pretty reminiscent of a small SUV. It's certainly a more convincing crossover substitute than the Bolt. You also get lots of passenger and cargo space, plus an abundance of features for your money.

Basically, the same things that make the regular Soul so appealing also apply to the EV, and if range isn't everything, we think it's most definitely worth a look.

Notably, we picked the 2018 Kia Soul EV as one of Edmunds' Best Electric Cars for this year.



what's new

For 2018, the Soul EV gets a more energy-rich battery pack, increasing its range from 93 miles to 111 miles.

we recommend

Get the most basic and least expensive Kia Soul EV you can. Given its range deficit relative to the Chevrolet Bolt, you might as well take as much advantage of the Soul's considerably lower price point. Plus, it's not like a base Soul is a stripper model: You get a heated steering wheel and seats, satellite radio and, with the base EV (versus the California-only EV-e), an 8-inch touchscreen that includes a variety of other tech goodies.




trim levels & features

The 2018 Kia Soul EV is, as the name suggests, the all-electric version of the Soul. Though not marketed as such, that car is similar in size and concept to subcompact SUVs. So is the EV. There are three trim levels: EV-e, the base EV and EV Plus (+). All come with generous standard equipment, though the top trim's luxurious extras could be worth the extra bucks. All use the same 30-kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack and 375-volt electric motor that produces 109 horsepower and 210 pound-feet of torque.

The EV-e is sold only in California. It comes standard with a DC fast-charging port, 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, LED running lights, heated mirror, rear privacy glass, keyless ignition and entry, automatic climate control, a pedestrian warning system, multiple steering modes (Normal, Comfort and Sport), a height-adjustable driver seat, two-level heated front seats, cloth upholstery, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 60/40-split folding back seat, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, one USB port, and a six-speaker sound system with a 5-inch color display, a media player interface, an auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio.

The base EV is the starting point for those Soul EV shoppers outside California. It adds better-looking 16-inch wheels, mirror turn-signal indicators, HD radio and an 8-inch touchscreen interface that brings with it integrated navigation, 3G Wi-Fi and Uvo Eco services, which includes an app that allows you to monitor the car's charge, find a charging station, lock and unlock doors, and adjust the in-car climate before you leave.

The EV Plus (+) adds front and rear parking sensors, foglights, power-folding mirrors, a faux-leather-trimmed dash, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a cargo cover, three-level heated and ventilated front seats, heated outboard rear seats and leather upholstery. Exclusive to the Plus is the Sun and Fun package, which adds a panoramic sunroof, LED interior lighting and speaker lights. A battery-heating system is also available in Oregon, Washington and eastern states that sell the Soul EV.



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 an increase in range, and 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. That's 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 0 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. Of Normal, Comfort and Sport settings, Sport gives the most normal steering feel.

Handling

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The EV isn't 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 and Hyundai Ioniq Electric, are sharper to drive.

Drivability

edmunds rating
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 stop-and-go traffic. The Soul EV is otherwise simple and easy to drive.

Comfort

edmunds rating
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 EV Plus' firm, leather-covered seats with an elevated placement are supportive and comfortable during longer drives (limited by range, of course). They 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 it's exacerbated by the lack of engine noise. You pretty much just hear the wind. Still, the lack of engine noise is welcome.

Interior

edmunds rating
For the most part, the Soul EV's interior is user-friendly. All but the California-only EV-e has a likable touchscreen 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 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. The 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 a bit bigger than most subcompact SUVs.

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 the Plus comes with front and rear parking sensors.

Quality

edmunds rating
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 costs much less than the EV. The Soul EV is well-built, but in the price range, interior quality is a bit under par.

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

All but the California-only EV-e comes with an easy-to-use 8-inch touchscreen, remote vehicle controls, Wi-Fi and integrated navigation. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and wireless charging are not available. There's one USB port.

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.